Friday, September 4, 2009

Marjorie Bourne boat fastest in its class

Picture above shows Marjorie Bourne racing her boat, the Moike (click on picture to see it enlarged).


In 1904 Marjorie Bourne, the youngest daughter of Commodore Frederick G. Bourne of Dark Island, was given her own motorboat for her fourteenth birthday. The 36 foot 9 inch boat, originally named the Eureka, was built by Charles L. Seabury & Company of Morris Heights, NY and was noted for its speed. Marjorie renamed the boat the Moike and according to the February 6, 1908 issue of The Hammond Advertiser, the first record of the boat in the 1000 Islands is from the Gold Cup Challenge Races in 1906. The article also mentions that Commodore Bourne had the boat re-powered in 1908 with a “new 40 horsepower Smalley engine making the Moike’s top speed of 27 miles per hour.”

Marjorie, like most young women of her era, kept a scrapbook and on their recent trip to Boulder, CO to visit Bourne relatives Judy Keeler and Jean Papke were able to see her scrapbook and obtain copies of several pages from the scrapbook that she began keeping in 1904. The pages contained articles from the Sunday, June 5, 1910 New York Times and the New York Herald of August 15, 1910 that described boat races in the 1000 Islands.

A New York Times article entitled “Fastest Motor Boats in America in their Classes” pictures boats owned by both Marjorie and George Bourne as well as those owned by F. K. Burnham, Alexander R. Peacock, George Hasbrouk and Mrs. A.G. Miles (Clover Boldt, daughter of George C. Boldt - of Boldt Castle fame). The names of several of the boats mentioned in the articles are recognizable by area fans of antique wooden boats and a few of them are in the collection of the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. The boats mentioned include: the Dixie II, the Intruder, the P.D.Q., the Duquesne, the Stranger, the J.A.N. and the Moike.

During a race on August 13th, Marjorie Bourne, then 20 years old, beat them all. In an article entitled “New York Girl Steers a Motor Boat to Victory,” the New York Times said: “Miss Louise [sic] Bourne …was the cynosure of all eyes here late yesterday when in competition with the fastest motor boat of the Thousand Islands she steered the Moike to victory defeating a large field. For twenty-one miles the plucky woman held her craft in the lead. When the race was over, a round of cheers from the fashionable crowd and the din of yachting whistles greeted her as she walked down the long dock.” The New York Herald of the same day stated that the race took 52 minutes and 9 seconds to complete in perfect weather.

The members of the Bourne family, Commodore Frederick G. Bourne and his children George and Marjorie continued to participate in the summer boat races for many years and Commodore Bourne was influential in setting up the courses for many of those races. Marjorie kept the Moike in the North Boathouse at her home on Dark Island until the early 1960s but by that time the engine, the seats and the hardware had been removed. Her nephew Frederick B. Hard donated the boat to the Antique Boat Museum in 1972. The boat is stored on its original cradle in the museum’s Doebler Storage Facility.Visitors to the 1000 Islands region can tour Bourne's castle, now called Singer Castle, on Dark Island. The castle is open 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily during the summer months and weekends mid May – mid June and Labor Day – mid-October. They can also see several of the antique wooden boats that the summer residents raced and used on the St. Lawrence at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. The ABM is open 9:00 – 5:00 daily mid-May to mid-October.

Source: Direct from Dark Island.