Boatnerds take over S.S. Badger

A total of 101 Boatnerds enjoyed the hospitality offered by the officers and crew of the Lake Michigan carferry S.S. Badger this past weekend during the annual Badger Boatnerd Gathering. All of the Badger's 46 overnight staterooms were booked by the group Friday evening, with the rest of the attendees joining the vessel before its 9 a.m. Saturday morning sailing. Those on board Friday night were treated to a tour of the Badger's pilothouse and engine room led by Capt. Dean Hobbs and Senior Chief Engineer Charles Cart. Lake Michigan Carferry Co.'s Max Hanley was also on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly.

Although weather forecasts predicted a stormy crossing from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wisc., seas were more moderate than expected, although a bit of rocking and rolling reminded everyone they were on board an authentic Great Lakes steamer. Clouds gave way to sun as the Badger steamed into Manitowoc harbor shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday. As a special treat, Great Lakes balladeer Lee Murdock performed for nearly an hour in the Badger's lounge during the crossing.

After reaching Manitowoc, the majority of the group boarded a bus chartered by Great Laker magazine for a trip to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. One of the highlights of the museum visit was an opportunity to view a new display featuring one of three triple-expansion steam engines from the Great Lakes trainferry Chief Wawatam. The impeccably-restored engine, part of an impressive, $6 million expansion program at the museum, is under motorized power so visitors can see what one of these huge power plants looked like when it was in operation. Museum volunteers Wally Randolph and Larry Fitch were on hand, along with Bob Tamlyn, the Chief Wawatam's last chief engineer, to patiently answer Boatnerd questions. After visiting the museum, many of the attendees had a chance to explore the downtown Manitowoc area before heading back to the ferry.

On the return trip, Lee Murdock performed another set of his popular, Great Lakes-themed tunes, and an impromptu slide show followed in the Badger museum room. Many of the images shown offered rare views of lake steamers and their crews taken decades ago, while slides provided by Chuck Truscott featured many outstanding views of carferrys and passenger steamers. Also during the crossing, Art Chavez, author of the new volume "S.S. Badger: The Lake Michigan Carferry," signed copies of his book.

The historic Badger, the last coal-fired vessel sailing the Great Lakes, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Pictures by Roger LeLievre, Dave Wobser and  N. Schultheiss

Badger Returns to Ludington Friday evening. Doug Fairchild

Entering the harbor. Doug Fairchild

Welcome Aboard.

Capt Dean Hobbs explains operating a floating museum.

Waiting to tour the Engine Room Friday night.

Top section of the Badgerís Skinner Uniflow steam engine.

Senior Chief Engineer Charles Cart shows Capt. Hobbs who is in charge below deck!

Boatnerds Louie and Rod get a chance to take photos during an engine room tour Friday night.

Badger Capt. Dean Hobbs shows guests through the historic steamerís pilothouse.

Pilothouse Tour.

Boatnerds sharing stories Friday night.

Departing the Ludington Dock Saturday morning.

Goodbye Ludington.

Crowd settles in for the crossing.

Some head to the Upper Deck for breakfast.

Waves were forecast 8 -10 feet.

We meet the tug Invincible and barge McKee Sons.

Close up.

Great Lakes folksinger Lee Murdock performs during the crossing Saturday morning.

Blue skies prevail as the Badger passes the Manitowoc lighthouse.

Backing to the dock.

Badger docked at Manitowoc Saturday.

Exterior view of the Wisconsin Maritime Museumís new addition.

Chief Wawatamís restored triple expansion steam engine, on display at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.

Close up shows detail work of Chief Wawatam engine.
Former Chief Wawatam engineer Bob Tamlyn (right) with the museumís Larry Fitch.

Chief Wawatam Engine.

Replica of Chief Wawatam's 12-foot propeller. (It is driven by the engine)

Model of the Chief.

Steam Engine Pistons.

Model gallery.

Another view.

96-year-old Burger Boat Lady Isabel in the Wisconsin-Built Boat Gallery (real boat gallery, not models)

View back to the Badger through the museum's periscope.

Tug Mary Page Hannah docked up river from the museum.

Tug Erich.

Tug Dauntless.

Badger drops anchor at Manitowoc after arriving from a short shoreline cruise Saturday afternoon.

Another view.

Raised seagate displays Badgerís 50th anniversary logo.

Last of the vehicles are loaded.

Goodbye Manitowoc.

Passengers enjoy calm seas on the ride back to Ludington.

Lee Murdock entertains the crow on the way home.

Slide show in the onboard museum.

More sharing and swapping.

The Assembled Boatnerds.

Our thanks to all those who made this enjoyable weekend possible

Sara Ewing - Badger Group Sales
Captain Dean Hobbs and the friendly crew of the SS Badger.
Max Hanley
Jamie Lee - Transit manager, Maritime Metro Transit
Lee Murdock
Dave Wobser - Dave coordinated the entire weekend
and made sure everyone had a good time


More pictures from the weekend: Two Car ferries, an LST and one Lighthouse

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