Construction: Catoctin is Wheeler hull No. 193. Her hull is fully double-carvel planked with an outer layer of ¾” mahogany and an inner layer ½” red cedar. Her frames are sawn oak, 1-1/4” X 1-5/8” - 9” OC (typical). Her hull fastenings are #14 Silicon Bronze (Everdur) screws and are likely original to construction. Her floors are 1-1/2” thick as with bronze and steel fasteners to the frames. Her weather decks are now non-skid polymer with rainways and plywood sub-decking and would have originally been treated canvas.
Wheeler Shipbuilding Corp. constructed hundreds of wooden costal patrol and minesweeper vessels during WWII. Post war, it would appear that they continued to build their vessels to battle-ready standards.
Propulsion: Her powertrain has always been twin gasoline engines, twin prop, and direct drive. Originally, she had two 140hp, 6 cylinder Chrysler Crowns. She was repowered in 1968 with two 210hp, 8 cylinder Chrysler LM318’s by Lake Union Drydock mechanics and shipwrights. Her cruising speed is approximately 9-10kts. She has allegedly hit 18kts, likely with the aid of trim tabs which were added at some point and have since been removed. Fuel consumption is approximately 2.5gal/engine/hr at 7kts.
Historical Background: During WWII, Wheeler Shipbuilding Corp. supported the war effort by building hundreds of medium wooded costal patrol and minesweeper vessels. Post war, Wheeler, like many other now classic boat builders, had to change course to serve a United States in peacetime. Wheeler appears to have valued quality over quantity and they focused on custom, stylish, and frankly overbuilt recreational craft. It was in this climate that Catoctin’s keel was laid.
Catoctin is a 40ft Sunlounge with a “Streamsheer” hull designed by Eldredge-McInnis and featuring the “Wheelerlightenair” extended portlighting (that is a continuous band of portlghting that runs from the forward cabin to amidships, port and starboard). She is hull No. 193, built in Whitestone, NY in 1946. Though it is not clear how many Sunlounges were built, it is likely less than ten but more than just this one. In late 1946 or early 1947, Catoctin was sent to Seattle to be a showroom model. This showroom was slated to be at 1131 Fairview Ave (near current day Yachtfis Marine on Lake Union). However, it seems that Wheeler could not compete in Seattle’s boat market and thus Catoctin was likely the only one brought to the city. Now orphaned, she was soon adopted by another boat building company.
Around 1950, she was purchased by George Hobart Stebbins Sr., one of the co-presidents of Lake Union Drydock Company (LUDD). She belonged to the Stebbins family but she was often used as a company boat. Despite not being a Lake Union Dream Boat, she still played host to LUDD family, craftsmen, and clients. At this point in her life, Catoctin was simply named “Wheeler” or “The Wheeler” as she really was the only one in the area, and her manufacturer’s name was already emblazoned in brass on her transom. We hope to someday hear all of her stories from her decades at LUDD.
One very important event that we do know of was in 1968 when she was repowered and had her flying bridge added under the direction of George Hobart Stebbins Sr. She originally had twin 140hp Chrysler Crowns which were replaced with 210hp Chrysler LM318’s. Also, a 6.5kw Onan gasoline generator as well as an electric stove and refrigerator were added to replace the original oil fired appliances. The most obvious addition was the flying bridge along with alterations to the forward main cabin to support the new structure. To complete the classic boat bingo, the flying bridge was designed by Ed Monk Sr. All of the modifications were performed at LUDD by LUDD craftsmen.
In 1992, likely due to changing times, Catoctin was sold from LUDD. We are still seeking details for this next period of her history. We know that there have been four owners between us and the Stebbins’. Her third owner was Charles Draper, owner of Salmon Bay Marina until 2018. Catoctin has called Salmon Bay Marina home since about 1992. During some portion this period, she was named Atralia.
In May 2017, Kyle and Garret Holt (your humble storytellers) purchased her. Interesting, she was appraised for more-or-less the same price she was offered for in 1946. We have been engineering crew on the SS.Virginia V since 2009, and thus old boats have slowly but thoroughly worked their way into our psyche. We could not have dreamed of encountering such a fine lady, with such an intriguing story, whose pedigree and stewardship has made her able to weather even first-time boat owners.
We have named her Catoctin after a forest / mountain range in the northern reaches of Maryland. The name originates from the Susquehanna region native peoples. There is no exact translation “Catoctin,” though one translation is “the place of many deer” and another is “sacred place.” No tribe lived there, but all local tribes frequented the area as it was a place plentiful enough to share. In similar fashion, it was an East Coast location special to us in our childhood and, similar to the boat, it is best shared.
We love her and we look forward to adding plenty more chapters to her story!