After 10 years of rebuilding a closed commercial fishery/quasi marina, I decided it was time to move the service department to a new level. (1987)
One of the main things that we were trying to offer our customers was dependable, quality service. This service often required on water assistance. Working from small run-abouts and recreational craft was not really meeting the needs of the growing boating population on Lake Huron.
About this time the Mackinac Bridge Authority retired one of two Coast Guard 40s they used to maintain the bridge. This boat seemed to fit the need for the PSM towing and service operation. The US Coast Guard built 40s were sturdily constructed and had robust pulling power with twin Detroit Diesel 6-71s and they were known for their reliability and longevity. I believe the sister ship to the Monya Marie still services the Mackinac Bridge and is stationed in St. Ignace. There is also another sister ship dry docked at the Dawson Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle.
One of the trademarks of these boats was the noise. The Monya Marie was extremely loud. Boaters that were around Port Sanilac in the late eighties and early nineties will remember the roar of her engines. Without exaggeration, my wife CeAnn could hear the engines start when she was at our house a mile down the shoreline. Around 1992 we installed mufflers and although the boat never sounded quite the same, many boaters were happy that the inevitable late night towing operations no longer made everyone in the harbor jump out of their skin!
Over the years there have been at least half a dozen different captains on the Monya Marie all with memorable stories to tell myself included. With her heavy tow bit designed right into the hull structure, forward of the rudders and twin engines, the Monya Marie proved very capable for any tow we encountered. Almost too capable. We soon learned her power output could easily damage recreational vessels. We went to a smaller diameter tow line as our safety valve. The tow line would break before the recreational boat would be damaged.
It was always immensely satisfying to be able to help a boater in distress and bring them to safety. However, towing is not the only thing the boat has been used for. One of the most notable operations we completed on the Monya was a contract we were awarded by the Connecticut Coast Guard. The CCG had been commissioned to develop search and rescue tables for helicopters to use when trying to find a target in open water. They had to determine the optimal speed and altitude in any given weather condition for a quick recovery of the target. They would give me a call around 6pm and say they wanted certain targets (life rafts, boats, or mobs) planted at precise coordinates at 2am the next morning. So we didn’t get much sleep during that job but hopefully it has improved rescue response time.
Another government related contract was a company called General Dynamics who were putting in a bid to build high speed amphibious assault vessels for the Marine Corps. They were using Lake Huron to test a prototype and needed an escort boat in the event that the prototype broke down or sank. We had to have divers at the ready and it was real challenge for a 1955 CG boat to keep up with these high speed amphibious vessels with cutting edge technology. But fortunately, it was a success.
The Monya Marie was successful more often than not towing small 12’ dinghies up to a 250’ dredging barge and everything in between. She has been reliable and we are grateful for her service for the last 27 years. Although it is time for PSM to upgrade I believe with her recent engine rebuilds the Monya Marie will easily go another 25 years. We will miss her classic lines, great maneuverability, and outside helm station but I know she will make her next captain a hell of a boat.
Check out the listing here:http://portsanilacmarina.com//documents/CoastGuard40UTlisting.pdf