Eight Bells: George S. Hendrie Jr.

George S. Hendrie, Skipper of the BULL. Photo from the Carl Bernard Collection. (This photo is likely George S. Hendrie Sr.)

The opening line of an obituary often sets the tone for a life well-lived, and when it begins with the mention of sailing on the famous stern-steerer FERDINAND THE BULL, you know you’re about to dive into the story of a true sailing legend. George S. Hendrie Jr., an avid iceboater hailing from the Detroit, Michigan, area, passed away on January 1, 2024, at the remarkable age of 96.
Fair winds and following seas, George.

 George S. Hendrie Jr., 96, died Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. He was a loving husband and father.

George was president of Color Custom Compounding prior to selling the company in 1984. He also was an avid sailor and iceboater. At age 16, he was the trimmer for his father aboard Ferdinand the Bull, when they won the Stuart Cup in 1943. The Stuart Cup was considered the world championship of iceboating in the unlimited class in that era. George and his father repeated as Stuart Cup victors aboard Ferdinand the Bull in 1944.

His involvement in sailing on Ferdinand the Bull ended in January 1945, when he joined the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II. Upon his return from the war, he continued racing iceboats. He was a past commodore of the Detroit News Ice Yacht Club and Detroit Ice Yacht Club in the late 1940s and early 1950s. On or around 1961, he won the national championship for the Arrow class of iceboats. Continue reading.

Letter to Carl Bernard from George S. Hendrie Sr.

Don Dallar’s Detroit – Historical Scrapbooks

Joe Lodge and DEUCE from Wayne State University Digital Collection https://digital.library.wayne.edu/search?q=joe+lodge Interesting to note that Joe Lodge was a cousin of Charles Lindbergh.

Some iceboat history in the form of copied and bound scrapbooks arrived on my doorstep recently. Michigan’s Don Daller filled his scrapbooks with the early history of the DN class and the Detroit iceboat scene. Dallar was part of the original crew that built the first DNs in Detroit News workshops. What makes these scrapbooks a valuable resource to those of us who enjoy researching the history of iceboating is that the archives of the Detroit newspapers have yet to make their archives easily accessible. Dallar’s collection fills a considerable gap in iceboat history not only because of the newspaper clippings but also because of his hand-written editorial comments and corrections in the margins.

An article that immediately interested me discussed Joe Lodge’s contributions to the Stern-Steerer DEUCE (there were at least three DEUCEs and I’m not sure which one the article is referring to.) Another article provided a clearer picture of Claire Jacob’s DEUCE and the BULL’s whereabouts after they departed from Detroit in 1961. Today, Rick Hennig of Racine, WI, owns DEUCE, and the BULL is in Lake Geneva.

According to the article, Joe Lodge designed a spar similar to a wing mast, was the first to use a windlass on an iceboat, and designed three pairs of runners for specific ice conditions. He was also an early embracer of performance measurement, mounting three stopwatches on the DEUCE II to keep track of elapsed times, time against rivals, and time on the weather leg.

Tip of the Helmet for sending the scrapbooks: Robert Cummins US3433

Learn More
DEUCE Archives



Buddy’s BULL

Buddy Melges with FERDINAND THE BULL on Lake Geneva at the 2001 Hearst Regatta.

FERDINAND THE BULL, owned by Buddy Melges, is one of history’s most successful Class A Stern Steerers. The BULL has its roots in a combination of a beloved children’s book turned Disney short film, a couple of brothers with a metal stamping factory now famous for vintage Coca-Cola machines, and leftover distinctive green paint from a cottage.

I am indebted to Grosse Point Yacht Club, Michigan historian and member Dr. Larry Stephenson M.D., for his article, THE GROSSE POINTE YACHT CLUB CONNECTION TO LARGE ICE YACHT RACING, about the history of the BULL. Read his article here.

Brothers Rex and Clare Jacobs founded the F.L. Jacobs Company, an automotive industry supplier and maker of Coca-Cola vending machines during WW2, which remain popular with collectors. Jack Jacobs, Clare’s grandson, invented the popular “J” iceboats, built for comfortable cruising. Rex Jacobs and George Hendrie, who also skippered, were co-owners of the BULL.

“At some point in the late 1930s or early 1940s, Clare Jacobs acquired DEUCE IV, a serious racing competitor to the BULL.” Both of these boats had been built in Harrison Township, Michigan, by the Vanderbush brothers. Their woodworking shop was just a few hundred yards from where iceboaters had been launching on Lake St. Clair in the 1930s, near the intersection of East Jefferson Avenue and Crocker Boulevard.”
Dr. Larry Stephenson M.D.

Even today, both DEUCE (now owned by Rick Hennig of Racine, WI) and BULL carry the same green livery, and there’s a reason for that. In a 2006 article about his grandfather Clare Jacob’s DEUCE, Jack Jacobs recalled, “The boat was the same flat green that the cottage on Harsens Island was painted. My grandfather felt you should never spend any time on parts of a race boat that don’t make it go fast (like paint).”

The boat’s namesake came from a popular children’s book, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, published in 1938. The story, about a mighty bull who would rather sniff the flowers than fight, was made into a successful short film in 1938 by Disney Studios.

The BULL’S long record of championship titles began in 1940 in Menominee, Michigan. Rex Jacobs and George Hendrie traveled there with DEUCE and the BULL to compete against the Oshkosh Ice Yacht Club for the Stuart International Trophy. This race was originally established in 1903 by Michigan’s Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club. Skippered by George Hendrie, the BULL brought the trophy back to Michigan, beating out the cup’s defenders, John Buckstaff in DEBUTANTE III and Tom Anger in BLUEBILL II. The BULL went on to win more championships with Hendrie at the tiller.

“Around 1960, “The Bull” and “The Deuce” were sold to iceboaters in Wisconsin. “Ferdinand the Bull” was sold to Harry “Buddy” Melges, Jr., of Zenda, Wisconsin, close to Lake Geneva in the southern part of the state. Buddy, now 83, is considered one of the most successful competition sailors in history, winning dozens of national and international championships. He was the helmsman in America’s successful defense of the America’s Cup in 1992 and took both gold and bronze medals in Olympic sailing competition.”
Dr. Larry Stephenson M.D.

Someone once told me that the BULL journeyed from Detroit to Zenda on the top of a car. I don’t recall if Buddy effortlessly transported the BULL’s 40-foot hull from Detroit through Chicago’s Skyway to southern Wisconsin. Still, based on another story from Mendota Yacht Club’s Lon Schoor of Madison, Wisconsin, that may have been the case.

“Bill Mattison and I were partners in several A-Scows beginning in 1982. All were salvaged after the insurance company declared them total wrecks. Bill and Buddy were close friends and talked frequently about their shared interest in both hard and soft water sailboat racing. That friendship resulted in some bartering between them. We would build boat parts for Melges sails. Unfortunately, I do not recall the year we built a new hull for Buddy’s Bull, but I believe it was in the 80s… We loaded the hull on the [Buddy’s] Suburban, and I swear the truck was barely out the garage door when the overhanging hull was in the street, stopping traffic. I remember looking at Bill and saying after all that work, it will be a miracle if it makes it to Geneva. …you can imagine the overhang on a Suburban was ridiculous.”
Lon Schoor

Check out Peter Harken’s tale of survival mode while crewing for Buddy on the BULL as they charged towards the leeward pin during a regatta. You can find the video on YouTube.

Buddy Melges and FERDINAND THE BULL had a strong bond, and Buddy went on to win 22 significant Stern-Steerer championships.
Read More: 2001 Hearst


Stuart International Cup
1940 -1947 DIYC, R. C. Jacobs, George Hendrie
1965 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Frank Morgan
1968 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Frank Morgan
1975 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., A. R. Wenzel
1980 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Harry C. Melges 111, Hans Melges
2001 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Harry C. Melges III, Hans Melges, Charles Harrett

Hearst International Cup
1961 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Frank Morgan
1962 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., G. Gerber, Frank Morgan
1963 – 1965 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Frank Morgan
1971 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Frank Morgan
1980 SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Harry C. Melges III, Hans Melges
2001 Ferdinand, SIBC, Harry C. Melges Jr., Charles Harrett

Northwestern Ice Yachting Association Championship
1961  Buddy Melges, Skipper; Morgan & Gerber, Crew
1962  Frank Morgan, Skipper Buddy Melges, Crew
1963  Frank Morgan, Skipper; Frank Trost, Crew
1966  Frank Morgan, Skipper; Buddy Melges, Crew
1967  Frank Morgan & Buddy Melges
1971  Buddy Melges, Skipper; Frank Morgan, G. E. Gerber, Jerry Sullivan, Crew
1980  Frank Morgan, Todd Morgan
1991  Buddy Melges

Early ISA Video

In his search to learn more about a Ray Ruge built Skeeter he is restoring, Maine iceboater Bill Buchholz has inadvertently discovered some historic 16mm film in the archives of the Cohasset, MA Historical Society Francis Hagerty collection. The footage centers around the Fox Lake, Illinois Skeeters of the early 1940s. It’s possible that the films are from the 1941 and 1942 International Skeeter Association regattas. Considering the ISA was first sailed in 1940, these are very early films that show the early development of the Skeeter class. Some things to look for in the video below:

  • The winners of the 1941 and 1942 ISA regattas from Fox Lake, Harry Salmon and JD Graff (the first JD!)
  • The A class stern steerer, Ferdinand the Bull, then owned and sailed by C.S. Jacobs of Detroit, MI
  • A really cool ice car that would make a fine RC vehicle.
  • Some very early DNs
  • Ted Mead, designer and builder of the famous Mead iceboats, many of which are on the ice today.
  • ISA trophies (with kittens!?)