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1000 Islands Cruise – an interview with an American Adonis crewmember

October 1, 2016 by Mike

1000 Islands Tour Boats American Adonis - JWK Collection(Photo used with permission from the “J.W. King Photography Collection” and supplied for use by Tom King)

A 1000 Islands cruise is a great getaway.  The vessels have changed over the years, but the fun hasn’t.  I’ve posted before about my fascination with the old American Boat Line 1000 Islands tour boats: Adonis, Venus, and Neptune.  The former was the first double decker in the line, made of wood, some confirmation that she was built on a PT boat hull, and downright nice looking!  Recently, I got in touch with Tom (Twitter handle @tbogie52), who answered a few 1000 Islands trivia questions I tweeted, and found out he was a crewman for one season on the original Adonis.  So we got to trading questions and answers, and I learned a few new things about the Adonis.  Let me share them with you:

1000 Islands Cruise: The Q and A:

Q: So Tom, how did you get started as a deck hand on the Adonis, and what years did you work on her?

A: Hi Mike, I worked at American Boat Line in 1970 for half of the summer. Normally I would not have been allowed to work the boats as they were reserved for 1st year college students. They were short handed so I worked for hourly wage, no commission.  I worked on all the boats, including Miss Clayton 1 and 2, but mostly Adonis.

Q: What were some of her characteristics?

A: She was a double decker with double plank hull, 3 Detroit diesel engines (2 /6-71 cid each side and 1 /4-53 cid centerline); a generator for the soda coolers.  The bridge was on the upper deck at the front center, as was the tape recorder for the PA system. The trips were prerecorded but the captains pointed out other bits of good stuff like “If you look over the port side you will see the international boundary line between US and Canada”  (there were ALWAYS gullible tourists on board!)

Q: What was the worst trip you ever had?

A: The worst trip I had on the Adonis was the dead head trip to and from Gananoque,Ont.  Waves were 8 to 10 feet high going around the head of Grindstone Island and broke over the bow with solid water hitting the 1st deck windshields and spray going over the top for the length of the boat.  She was shuddering pretty good and when we tied her up for the night the mechanics put extra bilge pumps in for the night to make sure she didn’t sink.  It was pretty exciting, as I had never been on the river when it was that rough.

Q: I remember taking several tours on her as a kid… my favorite part was the one you described above, when the tourguide told us to look for the painted line that marked the US-Canadian border on the river bottom.  What other “make-it-interesting” tour features do you recall?

A: Some things Captains did to make cruises interesting was more microphone use to customize the prepared tape tours.  They would also let young kids and pretty girls “drive” the boat under close scrutiny in safe areas.

Q: What duties did you perform on the Adonis?

A: As deck hands we were expected to clean the boat between cruises, and at the end of the day restock coolers and food supplies.  We also assisted with docking, handling lines, and making sure no one got injured during loading and unloading.  We also sold snacks and souvenir booklets during cruises.

Q: What did the Adonis (wooden hull) crew think of the more modern (metal hull) Venus and Neptune?

A: I liked the wooden hulled Adonis better than the Venus and Neptune because there was much less engine noise transmitted through the hull.  The metal boats “rang” with engine reverberation at certain rpm’s.  The Adonis II was added at a later time.

Q: It is rumored she went to a tour company near Boston, MA.  Did you ever hear anything about where she ended up?

A: I don’t think she would have fared very well around Boston.  The engines did not have heat exchangers.  She sucked raw water to cool the engines, a no-no in salt water.  Also marine organisms would eat the wooden hull without some kind of coating to protect it.

Well thanks Tom, I appreciate you taking the time to share your recollections!

How about you?


How about the rest of you?  What do you recall about the Clayton area 1000 Islands cruise tour boats of the 60’s and 70’s (or any other era for that matter)?

   Let us know in the comment section below!




  1. Scott Blackwood says:

    Hello Mike. I never got your first email… really glad you sent a follow-up. Here’s my cell phone number …. That would be easier to discuss the Calumet reunion I think, than over email. It’s set for August 1, on the island. I for one will be staying at Bertram’s Hotel in Clayton July 31. I have enjoyed reading your 1000 Island articles, and look forward to talking to you.

  2. Scott Blackwood says:

    Mike Fesco… would like to talk to you concerning Calumet Island reunion, Aug 2017.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Scott, I did try sending an email reply to you. Did you receive it? Great to hear from you and I’d love to hear any details about the reunion. Mike

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