Gale Jet Boat Question

By Fred Farley - ABRA Unlimited Historian

QUESTION:

What's the story on the GALE jet boat of 1958? - Brian Millin

ANSWER:

The Gale Enterprises' jet boat that Les Staudacher constructed in 1958 was the first of its kind to be built in America. It was not propeller-driven. The unnamed craft made one public appearance--in an exhibition run at the 1958 Detroit Silver Cup--with Lee Schoenith driving.

I once asked Jerry Schoenith about the boat. He replied, "It made more noise than speed."

The hull shape resembled something from the Gar Wood era and was without benefit of sponsons.

There was some discussion in late 1958 about the possibility of installing the hardware from out of the retired GALE VI (i.e., twin Allisons, gearbox, propeller shaft, etc.) in the jet hull. But to my knowledge, that never happened.

The Schoenith jet boat was still in existence as recently as the 1980s. Everyone assumed that it had been burned by the Schoeniths along with several of their retired GALE Unlimiteds in the 1960s. But that wasn't the case.

A friend of mine discovered the jet hull in storage at a marina in Michigan about 25 years ago. He had possession of it for a time. I don't know where the boat is now. Apparently, the Schoeniths weren't aware that someone in the GALE organization had sold it years ago. They were pretty upset and demanded that the hull be returned to them. (They wanted to "dispose" of it.) But my friend had a legal bill of sale and wouldn't surrender the craft.

If anyone knows of the Schoenith jet boat's present whereabouts, I would appreciate knowing about it.

In later years, Staudacher experimented with a couple of other jet boats--TEMPO-ALCOA for Guy Lombardo and MISS STARS AND STRIPES II for Robert B. Evans. While at the wheel of the Evans craft in 1963, Les almost lost his life on Michigan's Hubbard Lake when the steering gear failed at 280 miles per hour.


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