Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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From mailboat jumper to ship captain

by Jade Bolack

July 18, 2013

KEITH VOGT, right, helps clean the Walworth before the first tour of the day. He serves in many different roles on the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, mailboat jumper, tour guide, jumper trainer and captain to the Geneva.Jade Bolack/Regional News.
Keith Vogt doesn't get interviewed much anymore.

"They like to come and talk to the first-time jumpers, not someone who's been here for this long," he said. "They want to talk to new kids, see why they're trying out."

Vogt has been a mailboat jumper for four years, since he was a senior in high school.

Every summer, the Walworth II, a member of the Geneva Lake Cruise Line, delivers mail to residents living on the lake. Mailboat jumpers jump from boat to dock, deposit the mail, and jump back on the still-moving boat.

Now, a student at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Vogt doesn't deliver the mail as much as he used to.

"I train others to jump now," Vogt said. "I still jump sometimes, but it's mostly the others."

He's not just a trainer, though. Vogt is also a captain on one of the cruise line boats, the Geneva.

"It's a smaller version of the Walworth," he said. "They (management at the cruise line) came to me and asked if I wanted to learn how to captain the boat."

Vogt said he didn't need to get his captain's license because of the small size of Geneva Lake.

"I just needed to be trained and get a safety certificate," he said. "A lot of the older captains, who have been doing it a while, they just cruise right into the docks and park. I just coasted in real slow the first time."

With a full boat, Vogt said parking a boat is nerve wrecking.

"The crowd makes you more nervous," he said. "They're all watching and waiting for you to park the boat."

While he doesn't deliver mail that often anymore, the mailboat tour on the Walworth is still his favorite.

"The people on that tour really pay attention," Vogt said. "They want to be there and hear about the mail delivery and everything. They're not just on a tour to get out on the lake, like on some other tours."

His favorite house on the lake isn't mentioned on any of the tours, and he wouldn't share the home's name.

"They wanted to stay anonymous, so we don't mention the house," he said. "I also like Hillcroft, one of the former Wrigley mansions."

Hillcroft was originally built in the late 1800s, and the home was P.K. Wrigley's summer residence from 1927 to 1977. The current Hillcroft is a reconstruction of the original.