2017-10-05 / Life in Leelanau

Rescue from ‘55

Restored Coast Guard boat plays role in nonprofit’s Crib project
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


ROLAND SCHULTZ of Lake Leelanau has donated his restored 1955 Coast Guard rescue boat to the non-profit working to restore the Crib. ROLAND SCHULTZ of Lake Leelanau has donated his restored 1955 Coast Guard rescue boat to the non-profit working to restore the Crib. A Lake Leelanau man is lending his nautical knowledge and craftsmanship to help restore the North Manitou Shoal Lighthouse.

Roland Schultz will be involved in the restoration of the historic ‘crib’ and has donated the use of his restored and fully-functional 1955 Coast Guard rescue boat to the non-profit working on the project.

The North Manitou Light Keepers (NMLK) closed on the purchase of the property from the federal government in July and has already begun work on the Crib.

Schultz, 70, spent many summers near Glen Haven as a youth and remembers first exploring the Manitou islands when he was 11 years-old.

“Boats have always been a passion of mine,” Schultz said. “My father and I built several boats together.”


ROLAND SCHULTZ worked for more than two years to fully restore this 1955 Coast Guard rescue boat he stumbled upon in the Upper Peninsula. ROLAND SCHULTZ worked for more than two years to fully restore this 1955 Coast Guard rescue boat he stumbled upon in the Upper Peninsula. After high school in Grosse Point Woods near Detroit, he joined the United States Coast Guard and later attended the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, where he was a member of its first graduating class.

“We are so fortunate to have someone with Roland’s background and experience helping us,” NMLK president Dan Oginsky said.

After serving in the Coast Guard, Schultz took to the skies. He earned his pilot’s license and worked for 30 years flying corporate jets, as a member of the Air National Guard and later as a commercial airline pilot before retiring.

He’s been far from idle — and remains opinionated.

“I don’t have a respect or appreciation for the boats built today. They’re no more than floating Chlorox bottles,” he said.

The yard of his home just above the Narrows on south Lake Leelanau is a trove of boats he has restored or on which he is currently working.

“I don’t go looking for these things,” he said. “They find me.”

His fleet includes a Navy whaleboat from the U.S.S Kittyhawk and a 1938 Palmer-Johnson tug that he restored to to ship shape then took on the “Great Loop” from Lake Michigan, down the Illinois River to the Mississippi, around the Gulf of Mexico, up the East Coast to the Hudson River, through the Erie Canal and back to the Great Lakes.

Neighbors in the “pond” portion of Lake Leelanau know Schultz as the owner of a yellow seaplane that he powers up ramps to a storage barn.

While searching for a boat trailer he found a vessel that appealed to his roots as a Coastie — a 1955 Coast Guard utility boat.

“It’s like I resurrected it from the dead,” he said.

The 30-foot boat was decommissioned it made its way to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources via the U.S. General Services Administration and was then purchased by two brothers in St. Ignace.

It was while purchasing the trailer than he discovered the CG-30410. But it was in pretty bad shape and needed TLC to make it seaworthy. Dents in the boat, built of steel and aluminum, had to be pounded out. The hull was sandblasted and, with permission from the Coast Guard, painted with the agency’s traditional Band-Aid red racing strip.

“I had thought about donating it to the Coast Guard as a floating museum, but the Coast Guard doesn’t have a museum like other armed forces,” Schlutz said.

So he’s donating use of the boat to the North Manitou Light Keepers.

“It isn’t going to carry thousands of pounds of sand (for sand blasting), but it’s open and could be used to bring things back and forth from Leland to the Crib,” Schultz said.

Interestingly, the nautical navigator had himself considered submitting a bid on the lighthouse.

“It’s the most prime piece of property on the Great Lakes,” he said.

On a clear day from the Crib you can see the Fox islands to the north, North and South Manitou islands to the west, and to the south Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Schultz has formed an association with NMLK’s lead person on the project, Dave McWilliams as he was also a commercial pilot.

A little less than three months after becoming the official “owners” of the lighthouse, NMLK has made great progress. Bird guano left mostly by cormorants and covered the exterior of the structure has been scraped off. Lead-based paint and asbestos has also been removed.

“The work done has been based on the weather,” Oginsky said. “The wind and waves dictate whether we can get out there.”

Last week, contractors were scheduled to erect scaffolding in preparation for sandblasting and painting the exterior of the structure. In addition, crews are expected to remove the lantern house from the top of the crib, bring it to the mainland where glass windows will be installed in place of plexiglass.

Cost of the lighthouse restoration project is estimated at $1.5 million.

Whatever the challenge, Schultz’ vast knowledge and experience is sure to prove valuable during the restoration.

“We respect and honor the history and legacy of the Coast Guard in protecting the people on the Great Lakes,” Oginsky said. “We appreciate (Schultz’) enthusiasm for what we’re trying to do and encourage anyone who served to contact us.”

Further information is available at northmanitoulightkeepers.org.

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