That’s right, folks!
Al Capone owned this boat from 1930-32. He cruised Lake Michigan with it and also down in Florida near Miami. The boat is named “Flying Cloud“.
It’s a 36 foot long V-bottom Robinson Seagull and it features gleaming brass and varnished mahogany.
In 1926 Glen Robinson, owner of Robinson Marine (St. Joseph, Michigan), built this on the design of Naval architect John Hacker.
The boat was originally built for auto manufacturer Ransom E. Olds (of Oldsmobile fame) in 1928. The boat was named “Flying Cloud” and was used by the Olds family for two years before it was sold to the infamous “Scarface” himself, Al Capone in 1930.
Prosecuted for tax evasion, Capone served a 7-year prison sentence in the infamous Alcatraz Prison. His assets were seized by the IRS.
Capone was more than just a gangster stereotype. He loved fishing, playing music and even composing songs. During his time at Alcatraz, he learned to play banjo and formed a band called the Rock Islanders.
Capone’s debtors sold the boat to Clarence Welch of Michigan.
The Welch family took the boat from Michigan to Florida every year for the winter and then back to spend the summers in Michigan.
After many years of enjoying and maintaining the boat, Mr. Welch sold the boat to Emmett Roche in 1949. Roche, who was the inventor of the Emrola Radio, used the boat for many fishing excursions on Lake Michigan. For several years, he took the boat back and forth from Michigan to New Port Richey, Florida.
Fitted with Pullman berths, a galley, ice-box, clothes lockers and a separate head with a fold-down lavatory, Flying Cloud would have cost about $15,000 to buy at the time.
An integrated card table in the interior folds down on one side.
One man actually had the vision to bring Flying Cloud back to life. When Clay Thompson bought the boat in 1995, he had no idea of its historical significance. Over the next 5 years, Thompson painstakingly restored the boat, section by section, in a lot near his home in Oklahoma. He did the sides, bow, transom, and interior.
Al Capone’s son, Sonny Capone, also sent Thompson some pictures of the boat in its early days. Thompson’s restoration is generally considered one of the best restorations in antique boat circles, partly because of the attention to detail that he employed, but also because of Flying Cloud‘s unusual historical importance.