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When You Move Your Boat Cross-Country — in Pieces

In the January issue of Latitude 38, we shared the story of Steve Ingram, Allie Hawkins and Joyce Dostale, who, at the start of 2018, did not know one another, and by mid-2019 were partners in the Bay Area’s charter boat, Gas Light. In researching their story, we learned another interesting fun fact, one that didn’t fit into the pages of the magazine.

Did you know:

Gas Light co-owner Steve Ingram came to California with a dismantled boat that he had shipped across the country. He then rebuilt it and put it back in the water.

In 1995, while living in Utah, Steve and his parents commissioned the Great Salt Lake’s first (and for a long time, only) charter boat, Island Serenade. She was designed and built in Wisconsin and shipped in pieces to Utah, where she was reassembled and launched. Twelve years after they’d pioneered the Lake’s charter industry, the waters were drying up and had become too shallow for the boat.

“The lake was literally falling so fast that the bow of the boat was in the mud when we loaded passengers,” Steve said.

Boat Move Cross-Country
The newly launched Island Serenade cuts a magnificent figure on the Great Salt Lake in early 1996.
© 2022 Steve Ingram

With no help with dredging coming from the state parks, Steve had little choice but to reconsider his chartering future. He took a trip to California with the hope of finding a new place from which to operate a charter business. “I literally drove around the Bay Area for a week, stopping in all local communities.” But no one was able, or perhaps willing, to give him space for a a commercial vessel.

Until he reached Pittsburg. The town had just spent $12 million rebuilding its waterfront and was looking for a boat to showcase its new look. A deal was struck and Steve was ready to move in. The challenge would be to move the boat from Utah to the West Coast.

“I had already reassembled it 12 years prior, so it was up to me to move it to California.”

Two trucks and a special permit were needed to transport Island Serenade over the Sierra Nevada. Including the time spent waiting for the transport permit and later the Coast Guard COI, the impossible-sounding mission took a little less than six months to accomplish. “It ended up going some convoluted route through Susanville.”

But before Steve moved the boat, he had the sense to talk to the Coast Guard and find out what he would need to do to get the COI he would be seeking.

“I got hooked up with the greatest officer,” Steve said. “He was in charge of all inspections in the area. He said, ‘Pay for my flight, I’ll come up, I’ll look at the boat, and I’ll tell you what you have to do. Or I’ll discourage you completely. Or you may not want to do it at all.’ I said that’s not going to happen; I’ve got to do something with the boat.”

The officer worked with Steve for almost four months after the boat arrived in Pittsburg, the end result being a rebuilt vessel, complete with COI. By August 2008, Steve had completed his mission and was ready to begin his charter operation. “I had charters lined up, ready to go. And then, boom! — the economy crashed.” Fortunately the City of Pittsburg, which had loaned Steve the money to move the boat and set up his operation, was willing to work with him through the untimely financial disaster that caused repercussions throughout the US and much of the world.

“They were very nice, actually, extremely accommodating and understanding. By the following spring I was operating in the black already, because again, just like on the lake, I was the only show in town. For about 50 miles I was the only operation.”

Island Serenade remained in Pittsburg until 2012, when she was sold to Empress Events, which at the time was based in Sausalito. The boat was renamed Golden Gate Empress. The well-traveled ship was later sold, and once again disassembled and relocated, this time to Lake Tahoe, where she is reportedly working somewhere at the south end of the lake.

The boat as she looked at the time of her sale to Empress Events in 2012.
© 2022 Steve Ingram

Steve laughed and said, “It’s almost put more land miles on it than sea miles!”

Read how Steve, Allie and Joyce came to buy a boat together in the January issue of Latitude 38: Three Strangers Buy a Boat.


  1. Chuck Hawley 11 months ago

    Wait, what? No pictures of the disassembled boat? I am baffled by this story writing omission.

  2. Ants Uiga 11 months ago

    It seems I may have seen this boat in transit on Interstate 40. The boat was so far out of place that I speculated it may have required relocation from the Colorado River due to low water levels. As for the disassembly, it seemed it may have been a horizontal cut to allow passage under the overpasses. No photos. Sorry Chuck.

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