Wedding stunt floated this couple’s boat

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Newlyweds put a restored 1941 Chris-Craft in a swimming pool to pose for their marriage photo

Some people drive off into the sunset in a convertible on their wedding day. Maryland couple Webster Griebel and Erin Syswerda opted for floating a restored 1941 wooden Chris-Craft in a swimming pool.

An old wooden runabout neatly tied up in a swimming pool is not something you see every day, but it is when a young Maryland couple decided to create a memorable wedding day photo.

“I actually wasn’t too thrilled about doing it at first,” says Carl Griebel, the groom’s father, laughing. “I had to drive my crane truck — which is like driving a tank — 30 miles each way to make this happen.”

The wedding was held Oct. 4 in Trappe, Md., at Bullens Chance estate located on the shore. The 16-foot boat, named Coach, was supplied by Ebby duPont of St. Michael’s, Md.

“It was a total restoration and I named it after my father, who everyone called Coach,” says duPont. “It was the first [powerboat] I ever completely restored, and I finished it about nine years ago.”

The couple climbed into the boat with the help of line handlers for a good-luck photo. At the end of the reception, the couple escaped in a restored wooden 40-foot Chesapeake Bay crabbing boat with a drake tail transom that was loaned to them by another close friend of the elder Griebel’s.

“We’re all boaters in this family,” says Griebel, who owns Severn Marine Services in Tilghman, Md. “I own a Chesapeake Bay workboat that’s 22 feet, all restored, but not quite as old as the one my son escaped on. Mine’s only from 1965.”

Bob Grieser, the professional photographer who snapped the wedding photo, is an old friend of Griebel’s. This isn’t the first time Griebel and duPont have collaborated to put a boat in a pool. They celebrated the 100th anniversary of Island Lark, a 54-foot Chesapeake Bay log canoe owned by duPont and his brother Tad that was featured in Soundings in August 2001. The canoe was plunked into the pool of duPont’s mother’s house the same way Coach was: with Griebel’s crane truck. With 150 guests dressed to the nines to celebrate, it is no surprise Grieser was there to capture that moment as well.

“It’s just fun,” says Griebel. “Having Coach for the wedding worked out very well. I didn’t even know Bob was getting this shot until after the wedding was over.”

 This story originally appeared in the January 2009 issue.