Visitors to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, especially yearly visitors, can become almost jaded by the splendor of the yachts on display, so when something manages to grab attention away from the latest superyacht launch, it’s worth noting. That’s what happened this year with the 1937 mahogany commuter yacht Posh. Designed by John Hacker and built by Huskins Boat Work or Bay City, Mich., Posh once bore the name WeeJoe II. What might make this gorgeous yacht even more remarkable is that Tempo and Thunderbird—her two sisterships—have also survived the decades since their launch.
The first of these beauties was built in 1936 for Jules Stein, chairman of the Music Corporation of America (MCA). Stein paid $65,000 for the boat and later sold it to his friend Guy Lombardo who christened the boat Tempo. WeeJoe II was built second for Joe Cooper of Poughkeepsie, NY, who owned a series of theaters in the Midwest including several that took part in the unveiling of Cinerama technology. Cooper paid $75,000 for his boat, which boasted original 6-cylinder Packard engines.
The third, and last, of the series made her debut in 1939 for owner George Wittell and included a stainless steel cabin roof. Wittell had this custom roof designed to match the lines of his DC2 airplane. Paying $82,000 and naming her Thunderbird after his estate on Lake Tahoe, this boat is still part of the Thunderbird estate and belongs to the foundation that cares for it.
WeeJoe II spent some time in Canada during the 50s in an area known as the Back of Bays. Eventually, though, she caught the eye of a new owner. Todd Warner, owner of Minnesota-based sales and restoration firm Mahogany Bay, rechristened WeeJoe IIPosh in honor of the late Bob Speltz. Speltz wrote a series called The Real Runabouts that featured histories and builds of several wooden boat manufacturers. In volume three, he described WeeJoe II as “posh” and Warner kept the name. He also bought Tempo, but Thunderbird remains in Lake Tahoe where she entertains private guests.
Warner has decided to revive this glorious period in American boat design. Teaming up with designer Bill Prince, builder Steven White of Brooklin Boat Yard and brokers Bartram and Brakenhoff, Warner wants to bring the classic Hacker-designed Posh into the 21st century. The new design has slightly different hull lines thanks to computer-precise tweaks and will feature an Art Deco décor with glass-encased shower and include top of the line electronics.
Warner has a permanent twinkle in his eye when he discusses the project and grand ideas for events that will lead up to its unveiling. His enthusiasm is contagious. Yachts International will be following this project closely.
For more information, visit mahoganybay.net