Time Travel - The Voyage of Doryann II

As told by Jim and Margie Paynton, Seattle, WA

On June 22, 1946, Virgil Waite, of Berea, OH, was formally installed as Commodore of the Vermilion Yacht Club. He and his wife, Helen, had just acquired their new boat, a 1940 42’ Chris Craft, which they named Doryann II for their two daughters, Dorothy and Ann. Just eight days later, they left Vermilion for a nearly three week trip into the St. Lawrence Seaway, taking with them VYC members Paul and Jane Critzer.

Today, near the end of 2020, nearly 75 years after that voyage, that same 42’ 1940 vessel cruises the waters of the Pacific Northwest, including Puget Sound (the Salish Sea) and British Columbia. Now owned by us, Jim and Margie Paynton of Seattle, and named Maranee (a combination of languages meaning Sea Princess), this Chris Craft is still powered by her original twin 130 horse power Hercules gas engines!

But how did we get from 1946 (or 1940, for that matter) to 2020? A search resembling a genealogical pursuit began when we acquired the boat in 1988. Getting records of the original purchase from the Chris Craft archives revealed that the boat was delivered to Lakeside, OH on June 28, 1940. A name had been put on the transom at the factory, Sunny Dee, (we learned later that this was supposed to be Sonny D., named for the owner’s only son).

What ‘cracked the case’ involved some guesswork and hypothesizing on our part. Someone buying a brand new 42’ cruiser in 1940 surely had to have survived the Depression and was a person of some means. The median price of a new home in 1940 in the United States was just short of $3,000. The price of a twin engine Double Cabin Enclosed Bridge cruiser in 1940 was $11,000, or roughly the price of three homes! Who could afford that? And what might an owner of such an expensive yacht do? Perhaps they would list it in the Lloyd’s Registry of American Yachts? A trip to the Seattle Public Library provided the answer – the original owner had not registered the vessel, but Virgil did, in 1946. The back of each annual volume contained a ‘Previous Name’ index, and it was here that we found Sunny Dee, with reference to the Vermilion Yacht Club. Our search intensified, and we were fortunate to run into helpful folks along the way who were willing, and even eager, to help in our quest.

Long story short, we have been able to search out and contact the families of each of Doryann II/Maranee’s previous owners. The original owner was Ernest Dowd, co-owner of Dowd Feder Inc, a series of Chrysler dealerships in central Ohio. Virgil (Butch) and Helen were the second owners, from 1946-1952. From 1952-1959, Robert and Margaret Wolfe owned the boat, naming her Mary Lynne after their only daughter among sons and docking her at the Port Clinton Yacht Club; she is now painted out. Mysteriously, we next learn of the boat being on the hard near Gross Point, Michigan. A partnership of three Seattle businessmen purchased and arranged to have three boats brought to Seattle by rail car, including Mary Lynne. In Seattle, she was purchased on the spot by Wayne Quinton, who named the boat Maranee and owned her for the next 29 years. We are the fifth owners, having purchased and restored the boat over the past 32 years.

We have been told that we have ‘the disease’ – that obsession with an old wooden boat that makes us feel more like caretakers than owners. Chris Smith, grandson of the original Chris Smith of Chris Craft told us that the company never imagined their boats still being around all of these years after they were built, and that they are often in better shape now than when they left the factory. We have met dozens of folks with past connections to Maranee, including a long relationship with Virgil and Helen’s daughter Dorothy (Dory) and her husband Hank, who were able to see and ride on the boat here in Seattle in 1999; they have both since passed away.

We have proven that there is something more to an inanimate object; something that continues to make connections and foster relationships across decades of time. Perhaps reading this article has give you pause to consider the friendships and connections you have made with other owners of inanimate objects. It also allows us to appreciate the craftsmanship and pride of a bygone era of boatbuilding that can be passed along to future generations of wooden boat owners and caretakers.

  • Maranee in 2017 at Chatterbox Falls, Princess Louisa Provincial Park, British Columbia

  • Virgil H. Waite - 1946 Commodore of VYC

Doryann II at VYC fuel dock in early 1940s. Earliest known photo of the boat.

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