Hagerty Insurance, Traverse City, MI, wooden boat insurer, announced the addition of three inductees into its Hagerty Marine Hall of Fame. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees include Chris-Craft icon Chris Smith, Century Boat pioneer Chuck Miklos and California Classic Boats founder Al Schinnerer.
Founded in 2009, the Hall of Fame pays homage to individuals or organizations that have significantly contributed to the preservation and awareness of the hobby.
“This year’s inductees have had a huge impact on the classic boat lifestyle that represents the breadth of the hobby,” said Hagerty Classic Marine Insurance founder Louise Hagerty. “Chris Smith crafted these beautiful boats, Chuck Miklos helped bring a community of similar-minded enthusiasts together and Al Schinnerer fulfilled a need that benefited all wooden boat owners.”
Chris Smith’s grandfather, Christopher Columbus Smith, began building boats in the 1880s and founded Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company – the predecessor to Chris-Craft – in Algonac, MI, in the early 1900s. Chris Smith, now 84, began working for the company as a teenager and never left.
When fibreglass was all the rage and the market for wooden boats began fading in the late 1960s, Chuck Miklos knew the aging beauties were far more valuable than firewood. And he acted accordingly, buying up new old stock parts from his favorite boat company, Century, as each wooden model was discontinued. He was the 17th member of the Century Boat Club when it began in 1979.
Bob Miklos, the youngest of Chuck and Mary Miklos’ seven children who makes a living restoring wooden boats with his brothers. “To most people, they were just old wooden boats. But he didn’t look at them that way. If he’d had a warehouse, he would have filled it. He had foresight. He would be very honoured to know he’s joining the Hall of Fame. He loved those boats so much. They were his passion.”
Al Schinnerer saw a need, so he filled it. “I had a lot of boats, but not a lot of parts,” Schinnerer said. “I figured, ‘I’m an engineer. I can figure out how to make them.’ So that’s what I did.”
That was the beginning, in 1979, of California Classic Boats. More than 30 years later, Schinnerer’s company has created more than 600 molds that are used to make Chris-Craft, Hacker Craft, Gar Wood and Dodge parts. “I was blown away. I had no idea. Apparently, everybody knew but me. I’ve never been honoured like that, so it’s kind of incredible.”