The Electric Launch Company, later shortened to Elco yachts, was in operation from 1893 to 1949 building classic wooden boats. They are known for their handsome interior woodwork and handsome lines. Stepping onto an Elco provides a tangible connection to boating’s history and makes for a head-turning boat ride too.
So it was a good day in 2010 when Mare and Tim Deckard met a man looking to get rid of his 35-foot Elco Cruisette, which he had been offering as an amenity for a hotel in Virginia. The Deckards bought Annalee and went about restoring her inside and out. Today they run Vintage Voyages, offering sunset cruises and special events aboard the picture perfect Elco.
“We specialize in intimate cruising experiences with between two and six people,” said Mare Deckard. “We used to live on Lake Norman near Charlotte, N.C. and loved to sail and powerboat. Then we moved to Beaufort in 1999 so that my husband could run a charter fishing business.”
Tim is a captain, and pilots the Elco when she is chartered, with Mare serving as the ideal crew and steward. “In order for the Captain to remain focused while at the helm, I will take care of all the service duties while underway,” she said. “This includes photography, cleaning afterwards or perhaps decorating the boat for a special occasion. I especially love to dress up the yacht with wedding bells and white lace when we are providing one of our bridal deliveries.”
Don’t forget that Captain Deckard is also a licensed notary, and capable of performing a wedding ‘at sea’ if need be. Proposal cruises and wedding send-offs are very popular. With a max speed of 10 knots under an electric motor, the Annalee travels the waters of Beaufort providing dock-to-dock custom cruises.
Unfortunately, she’s not suited for long trips. “This is a unique vessel and we are very hands on with her,” said Captain Tim. “She has had only five owners in her history and we only found a handful of companies that offer any insurance for this type of craft.”
So what type of experiences can one order up while in Beaufort? How about a sunset cruise of the “dock and dine” sort, where the Annalee ties up next to a restaurant that brings the food to the boat. A small table on the aft is the perfect place to enjoy a meal or maybe even a sunset cocktail. The Annalee does not serve alcohol, but spirits can be brought aboard by approved caterers and restaurants, or customers may bring their own bottle.
Another excursion, the “Ultimate Experience,” begins with a morning of inshore charter fishing on Tim’s skiff. A local restaurant will clean and prepare the fresh catch and deliver to the boat for a memorable sunset cruise.
Having observed the Annalee depart from the docks at sunset with happy couples on board, I’d say that Vintage Voyages can deliver a pleasurable experience. Factor in the natural beauty of the Lowcountry surroundings and wildlife like birds and dolphins, and a short cruise on this Elco will go a long way towards serenity.
For more information visit the Internet at www.BeaufortVintageVoyages.com.