Sonny-S Returns to Middle Bass Home Port

Welcome Committee at the MBI Main Dock

The historic motor vessel Sonny-S returned to Middle Bass Island on Monday, 8 May 2023, after a nearly two-year hiatus for a major overhaul at Shrock’s Marina, Marblehead, Ohio.

In July of 2021, the Sonny-S interrupted service between Middle Bass Island and Put-in-Bay due to a rudder post failure.  Then, during a USCG hull inspection in February 2022, the inspectors informed Captain John Schneider, owner/operator of Sonny-S Boat Line, “Replace everything from the waterline down” due to pitting from bow to stern.

According to Captain Bob Schneider, the big question was whether to move forward to preserve the family tradition or shut down operations completely.  “It was a challenge to find a reliable company to do the work,” said Bob.  Gabel Welding, Inc., of Port Clinton, Ohio, became the right company to complete the project.  John describes the next year and one-half as, “An f’n process!”

After the motor and fuel tanks were removed, and major sanding, plumbing, and painting, Gabel Welding began removal of the hull’s steel plates on 22 May 2022.  This effort reached its conclusion only one week ago.  Burt’s Diesel Service, Inc., Woodville, Ohio, did the mechanical work, including the installation of a new drive shaft.  USCG inspectors examined the vessel on a regular basis during this time.  A cleaned-up and modernized Detroit 671 engine was installed in 2016.

Christening for 2023 maiden voyage

The Sonny-S , 50.5 feet in length,was built in 1948 by GW Nolan & Sons in Erie, Pennsylvania, and has been in continual service on Lake Erie.  Monday’s final preparations prior to re-christening at 5pm came in time for the final USCG inspection on Thursday, 11 May 2023.

The following images from Monday, 8 May 2023, portray only a few of the Schneider’s dedicated efforts to bring the Sonny-S back into full service.

New propeller
Refreshed fuel tanks
Bob displays custom belt cover.
Bob re-installs valve cover.
Detroit 671 engine
Parts galore!
Jake begins lift into water.
Sonny-S splash!
John and daughter Lucille
Proud brothers John & Bob Schneider
Leaving Shrock’s Marina
Captain John at the helm
Approaching the Bass Islands
A nod to Put-in-Bay