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Bat Boat almost a reality for Crystal Lake Batman fan

Caped crusader’s watercraft taking shape for CL man

Published: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 6:21 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 12:16 p.m. CDT
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Caption
(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Fabrication manager Darrell Dedick (left) and Crystal Lake Marine Services owner David Piersall lift the fin of the future replica of Batman’s Bat Boat being built for Glenn Chelius of Crystal Lake on Thursday in Woodstock. The original boat being converted is a 19-foot Seaswirl 188 Spyder and they hope to have it completed by Memorial Day.

At first, Glenn Chelius wanted a Batmobile to call his own.

The 48-year-old fan of the 1960s version of Batman starring Adam West even found a person in Tennessee who could sell him one.

"It was pretty reasonably priced for a Batmobile," the Crystal Lake resident said. "But the more I thought about it, it's not very practical. It's a two-seater, you can't drive it in the rain because there's no roof on it, you have to store it. As cool as that would have been, my kids are all teenagers now, [and] have always enjoyed boating with friends of ours ... I thought, I'm just going  to ... create a Bat Boat or find one for sale."

So Chelius, who does own a Batman costume, went to Crystal Lake Marine Services in Woodstock and asked them to build him a Bat Boat.

To put together the design, workers used a 6-inch model of the Bat Boat as their starting point. They eventually drew up designs on Adobe Illustrator for the $20,000 project, said David Piersall, owner of Crystal Lake Marine Services.

Workers have built a back fin replicating the back of the Bat Boat. They have a red light to place on the back. Workers had to build a hood to give the 19-foot Seaswirl the desired shape. Chairs on the boat will be embroidered with the Batman logo.

The shop is 65 to 75 percent complete with the job. The boat will carry four to six passengers, depending whether the boat is in Bat mode, Piersall said.

When all is done, the boat will be painted blue and white with flame decals. There will even be a dashboard mimicking some of the gadgets on the boat, including a radar screen. The trailer wheels will have chrome Batman emblems.

They hope to have the boat ready to go by Memorial Day.

"We are very used to completely rehabbing clients' boats from the ground up," Piersall said. "We're custom fabricators, so we can do anything. This will be the first of this kind of project, and I think it will lead to many more projects like this."

This is the most challenging job ever for Crystal Lake Marine, Piersall said.

When designing the boat, Piersall and Chelius wanted it to also be a functional family boat. So they came up with a way to have extra seats in the front of the boat that are covered when the boat is in "Bat mode."

"The whole family will be able to enjoy the boat out on the lake," Chelius said. "It's not going to be strictly a parade, show boat or prop. It's going to be a functional boat."

Chelius even has a short write-up with a boat description, which he plans to put on display board if he takes the boat to boat shows.

If he had decided to buy a new ski boat, Chelius probably would have spent the same amount of money, he said.

Also spending $20,000 is about half the cost of a Batmobile, Chelius said.

Chelius' 17-year-old daughter, Celine, said she was excited the family was getting its own boat, but didn't believe her father at first when he told her it would be a Bat Boat.

She knew he had been looking for a Batmobile.

Celine Chelius eventually saw the design for the family's boat and thought, "Yeah, he's pretty nerdy," she said.

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