The Van Lokerens Preserve a Vital Piece of GLBBS History

In 2007, Patrick Mahon, as GLBBS lead instructor, chose a design by the prominent, Michigan-born naval architect, Nelson Zimmer, who had just passed away, to be the first major boat-building project for the School.

Originally drawn as a fishing tender on the Great Lakes, with a unique forward helm, Zimmer had modified the plans to become a sleek-looking, diesel-powered, 21-ft. launch for casual daytime cruising reminiscent of the early 1900s.  Considiering the practical side as well as aesthetics, Mahon opted for electric power, skillfully making the necessary adjustments for her to float perfectly on the designed waterline.  Elco Electric Launch of New York donated the motor and systems components.

Her woods were exquisite, offering the ideal experience in teaching yacht joinery.  Thus, in 2008, Tony Grove, a highly skilled Canadian shipwright, artist, and furniture builder, joined GLBBS’s first summer program to teach the students this exacting craft.  To fully relate to that experience visit Tony’s blog by clicking here.

The Zimmer, as she was known then, brought great pride to the students and the School, becoming a testimonial for what they and the School could accomplish.  Proudly launched by the Class of 2009, she was featured in WoodenBoat’s 2010 edition of Small Boats in an article written by George D. Jepson.

When it became legal for GLBBS to sell its boats, deeply caring supporters, Michael and Mary Ann Van Lokeren, purchased her to not only provide them and their guests idyllic transportation along the channels of the Les Cheneaux Islands but to ensure her posterity as a legendary boat for the School.  Appropriately, as the first major boat to be produced, they named her Bonnie after one of the School’s founders.

When the Van Lokerens sold their Les Cheneaux property, they returned the Bonnie to GLBBS as a gift, with the understanding that it was the School’s choice as to ownership but with their wish that she remain in the area as a historic signature of the GLBBS mission.

The Bonnie (pictured at right) was featured in the 2016 July 4th parade through downtown Cedarville – staff and their families were invited to wave and toss candy to the crowd.

If you are interested in supporting Great Lakes Boat Building School by commissioning a boat or donating one please visit the following links:



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What People Say

Thank you so much for doing such a beautiful job on the
Marilyn Jean. Everyone loves her!

Wayne B., Commissioned Boat Client July 14, 2017

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