Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kruising on the Krawdaddy

These  moments  we're  left  with
May  you  always  remember  
These  moments  are  shared  by  few  
And  those  harbor  lights,  lord,  they're  coming  into  view 
We'll  bid  our  farewells  much  too  soon  
So  drink  it  up,  this  one's  for  you 
Honey,  it's  been  a  lovely  cruise  
“Lovely  Cruise”  -  Johnathan  Baham,  1977

The Kradaddy sits in Cedar Shore marina

In the spring of 1999, as I was frantically trying to secure tickets for the Final Four in Tampa, I was concurrently bidding on a boat. I had looked at the boat before leaving town and had set a limit for my proxy bidder. When I learned I was the high bidder, I wasn't sure if I was the winner or the loser!

This is the story of that boat and the ten great summers on Lake Francis Case on the Missouri River that followed. 

The Krawdaddy was originally built as a harbor ferry to navigate salt water on the west coast in 1972. Its use was limited to 12 miles from shore while serving as a ferry. It carried 16’ life rafts as it navigated the San Diego Harbor. Joel Schneider, who brought the boat to Chamberlain in 1985, has indicated that the boat weighs 45,000 pounds and has ¼- ½” steel pontoons that measure 63’ in length. 

In 1979, Joe Theimann bought the boat and moved it to Lake Tahoe where it was named the Tahoe Queen. On Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Queen was an excursion boat. Twin Volvo diesel engines were installed in the pontoons. The boat required two rest rooms in order to be certified. 

During the Tahoe Queen’s six year stint on Lake Tahoe, numerous celebrities toured Lake Tahoe aboard the boat. The captain’s log included Ronald Reagan, Willie Nelson, Pat Brown (father of the former California governor Jerry Brown), Johnny Cash and Ann Margaret. 

The boat had a very colorful history while on Lake Tahoe. Theimann lost his life in a dispute over the boat. After that, a federal judged seized the boat. He was in more than one dispute over his business in Lake Tahoe.  His sister tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the business after his passing.  

In 1985, Joel and Mary Sue Schneider bought the Tahoe Queen and moved it to Lake Francis Case and made Chamberlain its home. The boat was moved to Chamberlain on 18-wheeler.  

The Schneiders operated the boat as the Missouri Trader and gave tours from Pontoon Bay 
down to the Burning Brule area. From 1986 through 1988, the Schneiders ran a family business aboard the Missouri Trader and provided tours on Lake Francis Case. The Schneiders remember many military personnel touring on the Missouri Trader during those three summers. 

Schneider said that the diesel motors cruised at about 12 mph. They made the trek to the Platte/Winner Bridge on a couple of occasions. At least one wedding and several rehearsal dinners were hosted aboard the Trader. 

My Grandma Theresa Wurnig especially enjoyed riding on the Missouri Trader. That gave the Knust family reason to ride the boat quite often before she passed away in 1987. 

The Missouri Trader sat abandoned in the American Creek Marina for two years while an SBA loan was settled. Finally, Boniface “Barney” McGuire from Omaha bought in spring of 1991 on auction by the United States Small Business Administration. 

The Omaha Belle when we bought it
McGuire needed to replace the engines as they sat out through three winters without proper winterization. He put the twin Yamaha 115 hp outboards motors on.  

McGuire’s parties aboard the Omaha Belle, as he named it, were legendary. He had a friend that would fly his group into Chamberlain and they would set off aboard the Omaha Belle for the weekend. Other boaters would come upon McGuire’s group only to find many naked bodies aboard; sunbathing, etc. 

McGuire died in 1998. The Omaha Belle went up for auction in the spring of 1999. That is where our story began. 

Family photo shortly after we purchased the Krawdaddy

In the spring of 1999, we christened our new boat the Krawdaddy. Prior to launching the boat, we put vinyl siding on the exterior. We tried to make at least one major improvement each summer. In 2000, we put in new carpeting and added the restaurant booths. We mounted our old grill from our home on the front of the boat as well. In 2001, we added the jet ski lift. We put a new deck on the front and back and replaced the deck gasoline tanks with a forty gallon below-deck tank in 2002. We put a new ceiling in the cabin in 2003 and a new roof on during the summer of 2004. In 2007 we added a new gas grill. 

Rachel celebrates her birthday aboard the Krawdaddy

Alex doing what he did on the Krawdaddy

Wonder where Sarah learned that move!

Our daughter, Rachel, celebrated her birthday on July 4 and we hosted her birthday party aboard the Krawdaddy each year we had the boat. 

The Krawdaddy served as our family “cabin on the water” for many weekends. The perfect afternoon was one on which we anchor the Krawdaddy in the middle of the lake and have our friends “tie up” and join us for a burger and their favorite beverage. We spent so many Saturday and Sunday afternoon this way.

We hosted car dealer outings, Republican Party outings, gourmet club outings, "Christmas in July" outings, corporate parties, class reunions, birthday parties, rehearsal dinner parties and many "Hey, could I get a ride on that boat" outings. More than once I met people I didn't know out in the middle of the Missouri River atop or inside my boat. They were always grateful to be able to hitch a ride.

In 2005, we auctioned a couple of cruises to raise money when our church built a new community center. The bidding was spirited and we were grateful for that opportunity!

The PWC lift made beer runs a lot easier!

Family photo shortly before we sold the Krawdaddy
After ten wonderful, fun-filled summers with family and friends on the Krawdaddy, we made the difficult decision to sell her in 2008. On July 26, 2008, we sold her to Justin Neidviecky of Casselton, North Dakota.

It was a bittersweet moment for us. On one hand, the boat had become a lot of work with too many worries and too few opportunities to use it. On the other hand, so many people had been able to enjoy time on the boat with us and would miss it like we would. 

We were able to share many great days on the river with our friends. We made many new friends as we had various groups tour of our beloved Missouri River aboard the Krawdaddy

Neidviecky’s plans never worked out so the Krawdaddy still sits on the banks of the American Creek Marina in Chamberlain. The engines have been “redeployed” and it has fallen into serious disrepair.

But we'll always remember the Krawdaddy as our "home on the water" for ten wonderful summers!

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