“The bay forms in the morning and evening an animated spectacle, covered as it then is by a fleet of small vessels called Mackinaw boats going and returning from fishing, for each family has its own boat, and the Indians are very expert in their construction.” - 1857 Government Report
The Mackinaw Schooner dates back to the 18th century, and was the "pickup truck" of boats on the Fox River and Green Bay for over a century. The type of Mackinaw boat used on the Fox River and in Green Bay was less than thirty feet long, up to eight feet on the beam (across), had a plumb or vertical bow stem, and one of the most notable characteristics was the canoe stern. These boats were gaff-rigged in a schooner configuration, which in combination with its strong curvy sheer line makes the Mackinaw a beautiful sight on the water. These Mackinaw boats were sturdily built and stable for operating in open waters under the demands of freight transportation and fishing. The Native Americans quickly learned how to incorporate their boat building methods into the European shipwrights craft to capitalize on the demand for this boats. As a result a lot of the Mackinaws in use were built by First Nations or Native American Peoples in Northern Lake Michigan and Northern Lake Huron.
Fast forward to 2017, Hands On Deck has taken a custodial role for a twenty-seven-foot Western Lakes Mackinaw boat that was built on Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron in the early part of the 20th century. “Serang" is past the point of a full restoration, but we plan to research her further, copy her lines, and maybe even build a sister ship someday.