Boblo Boat burned

The Ste. Claire, known as the Boblo Boat, is seen following the fire. (Photo: Jon Hewett/WWJ)

Help Restore The Boblo Boat: Owners Launch GoFundMe After Devastating Fire

July 11, 2018 - 6:38 am

DETROIT (WWJ) - Plans are still in the works to restore the historic Boblo Boat heavily damaged in last week's fire, but the owners are asking for help.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to fund the restoration of the historic S.S. Ste. Claire ferry that was ravaged by fire last Friday. The owners say they are still committed to plans to restore the vessel and make it into a banquet hall and family entertainment space filled with Boblo Island memorabilia.

The goal is to raise $500,000, which is expected to cover the cost to repair and rebuild the boat. As of Wednesday morning, just over $1,000 had been raised. 

"We need to start from scratch with everything from tools, lumber, paint, steel, and funds. Anything you can donate brings the dream one step closer to reality," organizers said in their GoFundMe post.

Much of the boat that went up in flames was not insured, and the parts that were insured -- the hull, the steel and the main deck -- weren't damaged in the blaze.

The fire broke out as a worker was welding on the fourth deck. A spark fell down to the deck below and the fire began to grow. Reports indicate the worker tried to extinguish the fire before abandoning those efforts and calling for help. 

Firefighters had a hard time putting out the fire because their hoses weren't long enough to reach most of the boat from the dock, at the Riverside Marina on Freud near St. Jean Street on the city's east side. The Detroit fire boat later arrived to help extinguish the blaze.

The S.S. Ste. Claire — one of the two vessels nicknamed ‘The Boblo Boat’ —  has been tied up at the marina since Jan. 2017. It was one of two boats built in 1910 that took people to Boblo Island, an amusement park in the Detroit River, which closed in 1993. The S.S. Ste. Claire's sister ship, the S.S. Columbia, was hauled off years ago and is being rehabbed elsewhere.