by Ed Neal
A new boat that took seventy years to come to life is joining the downtown Cleveland waterfront. Launched Sept 27 at Huntington Beach LITTLE HENRY will help to keep a problematic North Coast Harbor channel behind the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame free of debris.
LITTLE HENRY is built from plans drawn in 1953 by Henry Wischmeyer, a Bay Village amateur boat designer. A body of Mr. Wischmeyer’s work resides in a collection at the Bay Village Historical Society. It is there that Ed Neal, Executive Director of the Cleveland Amateur Boatbuilding and Boating Society (CABBS) discovered Wischmeyer’s plans for a ten foot utility boat that could address the unique clean-up issues at North Coast Harbor.
The idea to build a small harbor clean-up boat originated with Quinton Oliver and Jesus Sierra, students in the CABBS after-school boatbuilding club at the Cleveland Public School’s Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School downtown. The two worked part-time at the North Coast Harbor marina and had first-hand experience trying to keep the problematic channel free of trapped debris.
Encouraged by Cathy Flament, President of the Bay Village Historical Society, CABBS applied for and won a project grant from the John Gardner Fund of the Traditional Small Craft Association, Mystic, Connecticut. Boat construction started in March.
A team of CABBS members working four to six at a time regularly met on Wednesday evenings to construct the boat frame from Ohio white oak and southern yellow pine. They planked it with Philippine mahogany marine plywood and sheathed the hull exterior with 6 oz fiberglass cloth set in epoxy.
While painting the boat in early September they learned that Henry’s 151st birthday would be September 27 and targeted that date for the launch.
Approximately forty people participated in the launch ceremony on the beach. The rough Lake and breaking waves kept the first row to a minimum but all indications are that LITTLE HENRY took to the water admirably, rowed beautifully, and will be very capable little craft for its clean-up duties.