Monday, December 17, 2007


Who am I?

Research indicates that this is most likely the Helene. The yacht was built by the Defoe Boat and Motor Works in 1927 for Charles Sorenson of the Ford Motor Company. The yacht left Michigan waters in 1936 and served in World War II before returning in 1949. The Helene still exists and now spends her time in Lake St. Clair. If you would like to see a more recent photo of the Helene, please click here.


Anonymous the rock said...

First yacht that comes to mind is the Delphine.
But that's not her profile, as my photos show the Delphine with port holes on separate decks, and a taller funnel.

December 19, 2007 8:13 AM  
Blogger Ookpik said...

Hi Rock,

The Delphine is a good guess but as you correctly surmised, that isn’t her. I’m sure she is the yacht of some “big shooter” from yesteryear. Maybe Jjaba’s? ;)

December 19, 2007 12:06 PM  
Anonymous MikeM said...

I was going to guess it was the Eleanor, or some other Defoe-built yacht:

December 20, 2007 10:47 AM  
Anonymous the rock said...

Helene sure makes sense. She used to tie up next to the Infinity on the channel leading into Jack's restaurant in St. Clair Shores and spent her winters at Keane's Marina next to Sinbad's on the Detroit River. I have not seen her in a few years.
I have had a couple of rides on this historical vessel. She rocks and rolls because of her narrow beam, and was probably not a favorite of tourists who wanted a more stable ride. But what a history she had under the Verbeist family, and what appointments and lovely interior of polished wood.

December 20, 2007 4:46 PM  
Anonymous JJ said...

The Helene is currently tied up within a few yards of N42.15.595; W83.07.428. in a channel just off the Detroit River. She is open, exposed to the weather and in terrible shape. Looks like a barge may have bashed in part of her starboard bow.

Nearby, the derelict Boblo boats, Columbia and St. Clair, are tied up on the opposite side of this same channel.

Access by land could be difficult since the area is a private property industrial site, no doubt, with security guards. Access by water is unimpeded.

I was last there by boat on 092408.

September 30, 2008 10:42 AM  
Blogger Russell Zyla said...

Looking for a chance for my father in law,a Verbiest descendant to see her again.

June 07, 2013 3:38 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Helene is the yacht in the photo. Not the Delphine. The Delphine is totally restored and in the French Riviera for sale. The Helene is downriver from Detroit at Nicholson's Yard awaiting her death after she sank a few years back at Jefferson Beach Marina where she once was docked and ran charters. Bill Graham her once Captain recently passed away about a year ago.

September 02, 2014 12:53 AM  
Anonymous W.J. Graham said...

The picture is of the "HELENE: when it was owned by Bob Renauldi from 1953 to 1964. C.M. Verbiest bought it from Mr. Renauldi in 1964. Bob shortened her stack and C.M. replaced the vintage launches with Boston Whalers.

The present owners are keeping her for future restoration when
the economy warrants. However the pilferage of her equipment by those having no respect for her will make any restoration more difficult and expensive.

Also, the rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

Captain Bill Graham

November 09, 2014 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Captain WX7011,

First mate: Thomas P. McEvoy.

106' with a 17' beam we ran with 2000 gallons of fuel pumped up to a fourty gallon day tank every three or four hours we refilled her, switch by the engine room door. She turned a single brass screw with a three part shaft. When a freighter went by Harsens Island she sucked the water out and we bottomed out- bent the shaft. Had to pull her out at Nicholson Dock Terminal downriver for repairs. Dinner at the St.Clair Inn. Most common tour-to the McAuthor Bridge, turn back to the GPYC, turn South to Detroit riverfront and back to Keans Marina. Browning 9mm. Kujo, D.O.G. and ???? Diet coke. That asshole on the Maranatha. Hose the deck, polish the brass, put up the colors, load the Merry Mouse, passengers and drop the gangplank. 1,3,2, then the stern line "all clear!!" ISMA 3long 2short. Remember Angel Park when someone threw a knife at the pilot house. One night the genny went down and we put flashlights in the port and starboard.

March 23, 2017 3:41 AM  
Anonymous Jack Flanagan said...

I was a deck hand on the HELENE when I was in High school in the summers of 1965 & 1965--until I has hired as mate on the yawl Katherine II. Later, I was mate on her for the 1970 season. In those days the crew wore Navy-style uniforms--both officer and enlisted types. The most common operations consisted of getting underweigh in the morning with a business group and running across Lake St. Clair and up the St. Clair River to the St. Clair Inn, or one other dockside restaurant below Port Huron. She was in fact owned by C.M. Verbiest & associates. The skipper then was Captain Karvanan (sp?). Bill Graham was skipper of the SEVEN SEAS at the time, which was moored just down the dock from the HELENE at Keans's. A short time after I left to go on active duty in the Navy, Captain Karvanon died I believe, and Bill Graham took command of the ship, and skippered her for many years. I was relieved to see that Bill Graham's demise was not true. I remember him fondly from those days.

April 12, 2018 3:06 PM  

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