A fisherman has donated the remains of a wooden boat found at the bottom of West Lake Okoboji to the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum in Arnolds Park. Chad Thompson of Spirit Lake determined the engine was made in 1937.
“When I got it up and in the garage, we did take and put a wrench on it and we could get the motor to turn over, so being underwater for almost 50 years or whatever, the motor still turned over,” Thompson says, “so we thought that was pretty cool.”
Thompson says he’s 99 percent sure the boat is a 1942 Century Sea Maid.
“The most it could have been down there is for 50 years,” he says. “…The Sears battery was dated 1969.”
Thompson found the wreckage with his depth-finder two years ago and coordinated with Okoboji Underwater Recovery Specialists to bring it to the surface this winter.
“The plywood deck on the top, being on the water that long, it took a pretty good toll on it,” Thompson says. “…A silt line in the bottom of the boat was probably 14-16 inches in spots. Well, wherever that silt line was in the bottom of the boat when we cleaned it all out — it looked like it was brand new.”
Thompson is hoping that putting the boat on display at the museum will lead to someone to come forward with more information about who owned the boat and why it sunk. The company that made the boat was founded in 1928 and won a government contract to build 3600 boats for service in World War II. The boat Thompson found was one of the company’s pre-war models.
(By George Bower, KICD, Spencer)