MONTAGUE — Family, friends and fellow boaters gathered at Ellenwood Marina on the White Lake waterfront on a recent Friday evening to help owners Kevin and Linda Schutter christen their restored classic 1959 Chris Craft Roamer Regal cruiser.
The unique 35-foot steel hulled boat was restored by Kevin, an experienced welder who has a shop in Montague Township.
The christening was a fun acknowledgement of Kevin’s hard work in restoring in the boat and a gift to the gods of the deep seas.
“In ancient mythology days it was widely believed that a Roman king of the sea, Neptune, and a greek ruler of the sea, Poseidon, lived on the floor of the ocean,” Linda Schutter read from a script while standing on the boat’s stern. “These gods of the sea would assure safe passage over the seven seas, and hopefully the Great Lakes, for all sailors who followed their doctrines and respected their protocol. Poseidon and Neptune are said to have kept a ledger of the deep which recorded the name of every sea vessel by name. Changing the name of a vessel is said to be disrespectful. Those who fail to follow a christening ceremony are said to face the rath of Neptune and Poseidon.
“The ritual of the renaming ceremony is intended to purge the old name from the ledger of the deep and the memory of Poseidon and Neptune and replace it with a new name,” she added.
The 10-minute ceremony included toasting to the boat’s first name, “Tojo,” by pouring a small bottle of wine in waters from east to west, and a request to the gods to erase the previous name.
The ceremony was completed when the boat’s captain, Kevin Schutter, christened the new name, “Retro Steel,” by cracking a bottle of champagne on the bow.
“I christen thee Retro Steel,” he shouted when hitting the bow with the champagne, much to the enjoyment of those who attended.
Tours of the boat were given after the ceremony.
Linda Schutter told the audience that the couple acquired the boat last November, and Kevin completely renovated it.
Kevin said he repaired the steel hull and painted the entire boat white. He added a transom door to make it easier to board the vessel.
Linda polished the wood trim.
Kevin said friends of their’s at Terrace Pointe in Muskegon, where they live, previously owned the boat so they knew it. Previously, the boat was docked 15 years in South Haven.
“The price of the boat went down when I ran a pry bar through the bottom,” he said. “I knew it was rough, but not that rough.”
Linda said the boat was manufactured in Holland by Chris Craft which purchased the Roamer boat manufacturer.
Not many of the steel hulled boats were built as the wood hulls turned to fiberglass hulls.
Linda said there are very few steel hulled Chris Craft Roamer Regal boats still in existence.
“It’s a work of art,” one of the friends at the ceremony cried out.