WHITEFISH POINT, MICH.- Actual Flying boats at Whitefish Point? Not really, but for about 5 minutes last week, we saw the rare USCG Type TR Motor Lifeboat CG 36381 being lifted by a huge crane and “flying” over the roofs of our campus!

But it didn’t start there. The beautifully restored 36-foot-long boat, CG 36381 (CG meaning Coast Guard), coming home has been years in the making. The Motor Lifeboat (MLB) was discovered in a boat yard around 10 years ago in a marina in Maryland. Back then, CG 36381 was destined to be burned to the ground for its hardware.

Luckily, some friends of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS), Jeff Shook and Glen Cathers, let us know about this unique opportunity. CG 36381 was then purchased and shipped to Michigan with the help of a generous donation from David Sutton, as well as Brad and Keith Tolles of ADS Transport, Wixom, MI.

Restoration of the MLB started at Passage Boat Works in Detour, MI, and then shifted to E.J. Mertaugh Boat Works in Hessel, MI. The masterful work took about 6 years until the time came for CG 36381 go to its new home at Whitefish Point.

“Delivery day for a once in a lifetime project. The boat left Mertaugh Boat Works in Hessel, MI yesterday for Whitefish Point anticipating the arrival of the crane and crew for today’s lift/swing/fly. Loshaw Crane did an amazing job flying the boat to her home. Ken Graham trucking delivered her within feet of her new home. Fantastic work guys.” President of E.J. Mertaugh Boat Works, Geoff Hamilton said. “Although all the staff members that have worked on this project, past and present were not able to attend today your work will be on display for all to see. Outstanding. Considering the timeline, logistics, weather and equipment that made this adventure an enjoyable success…I thank you.”

“The list is long of the people that have been involved in the restoration of Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat # 36381 here at E.J Mertaugh Boat Works. This restoration project was all made possible by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society Museum’s board and Bruce Lynn’s commitment and dedication to seeing this project to its conclusion.” Said E.J. Mertaugh Boat Works CEO, Brad Koster. “Many years have passed since this project began with a pandemic sandwiched in between. Through all the efforts of so many people added up to this day when we placed her back in her house at Whitefish Point. Now it’s time for everyone to go see her, that’s the ultimate reward of this project.

“In order to make our 1923 Motor Lifeboat House restoration complete, we really needed a Motor Lifeboat!”, reflected Shipwreck Museum Executive Director Bruce Lynn. “This was a tall order…not many of these boats are left. Fortunately, some friends made us aware of a Type TR motor lifeboat that was only 10 hull numbers from the original that arrived at Whitefish Point in 1933. I can’t tell you how excited we were to get this old boat…and we are so excited now to see it in its new home!”

The GLSHS will be hosting a dedication ceremony for the Motor Life Boat next summer. Stay tuned for more information on times and dates.

Media Contact
Corey Adkins, Communications/Contact Director GLSHS.