Tuesday, April 27, 2010

James Bond "MOONRAKER" (1979) Boat Found!

I found a pleasant surprise a day before my 40th birthday! One of the thought to be wrecked customized Glastron boats used by 007 in the film Moonraker (1979) starring Roger Moore.

About 25 minutes down the highway is a small town called Birch Run, MI. Strangely, they have a large building called the Birch Run Expo Center that frequently hosts events. Never been there before. A radio ad caught my attention for a Boat and Fishing Show. I figured it would be a cool thing to go to the day before my birthday.

The radio ads started about a week before the event and just mentioned "see James Bond's Moonraker boat." I had to hear it several times before I heard what I though I heard.

I went mainly to check it out, get ideas on how I could display the Batboat, and see the new boats displayed to get an idea of what basic items missing from mine would look good in it and what would not. (A lot of it, like the tilt steering, looked too plastic or chrome "new.")

On Sunday, March 7th I went and there it was.

They let me take all the photos I wanted. Here they are.

Days later I did a websearch and found that 007 fans thought the Moonraker boat disappeared. Didn't know what happened to it. It was badly damaged in early 2006 and then gone. (An article detailing the damage is at the bottom of this post.)

The owner, the Ian Flemming Foundation, chose a fiberglass boat restorer near here, Invision Boatworks of Reese, MI, to fix it and make a duplicate to sell at auction. Its unbelievable to me that since around 2008 a movie prop like this has being hiding away near where I live and I didn't know it.

As far as I have determined, this event is the first time the Moonraker boat has been seen in public since the accident in February 2006. Could be wrong, though.

What I am certain of is that this blog post is the first time photos of the restored boat have ever been seen on the Internet.

Its hard to see but look close. A metal frame work supports the fiberglass roof. The custom fiberglass roof and side supports consist of five pieces. The metal and front window area holds it all steady.

The interior is very cramped. The vessel this was based on, a 1978 Glastron CV23 HT, wasn't intended to have a roof on it. Not much room for poor Mister Bond. But then again, he ejected on a hang glider before it went over the falls in the Amazon jungle.

Under the dashboard is a cubby hole with cushioned seating areas extending to the bow. This is a 23 foot boat. Upholstery and carpet is gray. I believe the box under the steering was a speaker playing music.

The information card detailing this boat's history. Some sources on the net say four boats were used in the movie. This says three.

There weren't too many angles I could shoot of it and the inside was too dark to photograph details.

While talking to the lady who was there with the boat I commented that I had a Batboat that I was overhauling and we talked about it briefly.

The two old crafts had something in common; the smell of mildew. lol!

She told me a lot about the recent history and restoration and that all of the weapons in the boat worked. I must have gave her a good impression because she gave me a new embroidered Invision Boatworks carrying bag, boat key chain and pamphlets.

The mines are department store inflated bouncing balls painted silver.

Switches for Mine Eject, Torpedo Launch and Roof.

I have an old camera that saves photos to a 2.5 inch floppy disc (!!!). If I am lucky, I can get 22 photos before it is full. These are all the pix I took.

For $10 people could pose and have their photo taken. Here's mine. One day before my 40th birthday dressed to blend in with a Boat and Fishing show. lol.

The scene in Moonraker where the boat appears....

The article about its sad misadventure...

Moonraker Boat Destroyed

February 9, 2006 – DSBG The Ian Fleming Foundation is suffering from a major loss after receiving word that the Glastron speedboat, used during the Amazon river chase, was destroyed in transit after completing the Boats Of Bond show in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Doug Redenius' e-mailed friends saying, "It seems the transport person who was hired to bring the boat back here pulled it without a cover, without any tie downs and without checking during the entire trip. The only thing left of the boat at this point is the hull & windshield....everything else has been completely destroyed!"

The Ian Fleming Foundation is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the study and preservation of the history of Fleming's literary works, the James Bond phenomenon, and their impact on the culture of the Twentieth Century. It has been formed with the goals of procuring, restoring, and archiving Ian Fleming's legacy for the general public. This legacy includes manuscripts, books, periodicals, movies, movie properties, recordings, and merchandise produced over the last four decades. Some of this material has been "lost", some resides in museums, and a large amount has been collected by private individuals. One of the goals of the Foundation is to search out the "lost" items and to restore and preserve them. The publication of the Goldeneye Magazine was a major fund raising activity allowing them to work toward those goals.


David bone said...

Awesome.BoatParadise Boats for Sale

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine, Ronald Bailey of Minnetonka Minnesota actually owner this boat for a few years before he sold it to The Ian Fleming Foundation. I had the opportunity to ride in and ski behind it many times. Then it had a Ford 460 big block. Ron swapped out a Chevy 454 with Nitrous! The boat still had some switches for the top, torpedo's and mine launcher as well as holes in the rear for the mine and torpedo launchers! The top was missing and the windshield was modified and cracked. Glad to see it restored! Last week Ron had a garage fire and lost everything. If the boat had still been there it would have been lost forever.

Unknown said...

I know back in 1980 a man who lived in Homestead Florida named Fred mowrey was the owner of this boat

Lester Burnham said...

Unknown, please tell us more about the boats time in Florida with Mr Mowry. Did he purchase it from the film set?

I was told that one of the Moonraker boats went to auction or raffle in 1981 to raise funds for a New York based charity. The boat was donated by Cubby Broccoli himself. Whether that was this one or a missing one I dont know.

I would love to find out more about this boats history during and after the filming.