Sailboats & Iceboats
One recreational activity that gained great popularity over the years was sailboating. The first regatta on Orchard Lake, and perhaps the first on any neighboring lake, took place about 1873. However, the competition between a Pontiac club and one from Detroit was apparently with oars rather than sails. The Pontiac group was responsible for building the boat house in front of the Orchard Lake Hotel. Joseph T. Copeland was the owner of the first sailing craft on the lake. He was quickly followed by Mr. L. Crofoot and his sloop Aloah; Forrest Campbell and his Mackinaw boat, the Shela; and the Ward family and their single cat (a light draft, broad-beamed boat with a single sail). The natural rivalry among skippers produced the first sailboat race which took place around 1875. A Mr. Liggett from Lake Oakland with his double cat won first place. Next came Ward’s entry, then the sloop Aloah, and finally Forrest Campbell on board the Shela. Although boat size would vary over the years, from time to time onward
regular racing events took place on the lake.
The era of double catboats followed and was highlighted by the early exploits of Willis Ward’s Tantalizer, the Ellen Marie, named after the wife of Albert D. Noble, and the Irene G. Next came a period when sloops were in vogue, such as: Forrest Campbell’s Keewadin, baptized with a spelling variant of Longfellow’s Northwest Wind from his epic “Hiawatha”; the Zenda; the Paralyzer; the Hoo Hoo; and the Skwapeha. The unusual title of the last boat was composed from the first two letters in the surnames of its four owners: Skae, Ward, Pelouze, and Hammond. Excerpt from "Song of the Heron" a history of West Bloomfield Township by Charles Martinez.