Eight Bells: Bernie Swindeman

Published on March 1st, 2016

It is with great sadness that I have to report my friend and fellow sailor of the Great Lakes, Bernie Swindeman, passed away on February 29 in Florida. He was 80 years of age.

Bernie owned a number of boats named Appleknocker, from Dragons in the early 1960s to a custom 40-footer that he raced with his three sons in the 1970s. His Ranger 37, Appleknocker, was Lake Erie Boat of the year in 1974.

Bernie was a successful business man who took over his father’s apple orchards in Southeast Michigan in the early 1950s and he, along with his three sons who all took active roles on the farm in the mid 1970s, turned it into a multi-million dollar business. It is now a fourth generation, family run company.

Bernie was one of those type of thinkers who if he couldn’t find the kind of equipment that suited him or could help him grow his business, he would go into his workshop and create it. He held a number of patents for apple packing machinery. He was the same kind of sailor.

Bernie was a patient skipper and a natural born teacher. He was always great fun to sail with. Some of the most fun I ever had on a sailboat was as a crew member on one of Bernie’s boats. I will miss him. Sail on sailor. – Big George McCroskey

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