Winter is tightening its grip on Chesapeake country, and January is a good time to settle down in front of the fire and reflect on the past year as well as to make plans for the coming one. Most shops report that the year just past was busy and the future looks good.
Speaking of the future, we occasionally report on the activities of the Center for Applied Technology South (CAT-South) and efforts to train young people to become the boat builders of the future. We’ll start with an update of that effort by Nancy Noyes, who shares the story of a collaborative venture by CAT-South and Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) of Annapolis, MD.
In 2014, boat builder David Fawley took the helm of the Marine Technology department at Anne Arundel County’s CAT-South. Previously, he enjoyed a long tenure as a manager at the wooden boat specialty shop, CLC, in Annapolis. He adds his success in growing CLC’s boatbuilding education programs to his own deep file of boatbuilding expertise; David is uniquely suited to use boatbuilding as a tool for expanding the minds of teenaged students. Looking for a project that would both excite his students and raise the profile of CAT-South’s maritime trades programming, David commissioned John C. Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft to design a 23-foot motor launch. The cold-molded center console launch is now under construction at the Edgewater campus.
“We could have gone with an 18-foot fishing skiff,” Fawley says, “but there are plenty of those out there already. This is something new and distinctive.” The long, narrow canoe-bodied hull references traditional Chesapeake Bay working craft. There are strong hints of the Hooper Island Draketail and the log canoes that were converted from sail to power a century ago. “It’s nice to have the continuum with Chesapeake working craft in an otherwise completely modern design,” John Harris says. “But it’s not for show. This boat should offer great fuel efficiency, something we think about a lot in 2015.” Harris specified a 20-hp, four-stroke outboard mounted in a well to drive this slippery design, with the option of all-electric propulsion. In addition to wooden boat construction, CAT-South students will grapple with fiberglass, paint, varnish, mechanical, and electrical systems while building the motor launch. “We’ve got science, technology, engineering, and math all going on here every day,” says Fawley.
Jake Glover of Ferry Point Marina in Trappe, MD, reports that the new management team is preparing for a busy new year by upgrading their facilities. “More renovations completed and new ones underway! Our north bulkhead and slips were all replaced early this year with updated electric and water service. Our south-facing bulkhead is being replaced as we speak. The center pier is also currently under repair with more boat lifts scheduled to be in by spring 2016. The marina and yard received all new lighting last fall as well as additional electric and water service for those DIYers. Even more electric and water are planned to be installed throughout the yard this summer. Don’t forget our stocked ship store, 50-ton Travelift and ABYC-certified techs on staff.”
Lauren Distefano of Bluewater Yacht Yards in Hampton, VA, shares her optimistic outlook for the coming year with us. “It’s hard to imagine a year has already gone by. We have had an incredibly busy year. Thank you to all of our customers for your continued business with us! Our service yard has worked on many teak cockpit and mezzanine installations, bottom painting, and custom boot stripes, live well installations, custom rod holders, fighting chairs, Garmin electronic installations, engine reworks, as well as our normal routine maintenance and commissioning tasks. We are looking forward to see what 2016 will bring us!”
Dave Hannam with Classic Watercraft Restoration of Edgewater, MD, reports that the 1946 Chris-Craft U22 has already undergone a complete restoration on the topsides and deck including repair work, seaming and numerous coats of varnish. Next up, the old mahogany bottom planks are about to be re-fastened and seamed, as Hannam continues to “hit bottom,” giving us the “lowdown” on the situation, and reports that “there is nowhere to go but up.” Note the black tire mark on the bottom planks, where the rusty four-wheel farm trailer rubbed through, almost causing the boat to pass the driver—on the freeway down to the shop! Classic Watercraft Restoration reports its one year anniversary in the new building, where they are just getting around to hanging the wall art.
Lowery Boat Shop in Tilghman, MD, brings us up to date on the restoration of the classic Chris Craft Classy Lassy. We reported on the Lassy’s star turn in the movie On Golden Pond in our September 2014 column. “Work is progressing on the Classy Lassy, Craig Brittingham’s 1959 Chris Craft Sportsman. All side boards that needed to be replaced are in; the rear deck has been replaced. The hull has been stained, and two coats of sealer have been applied. The old girl is coming together…”
Joe Reid of Mast and Mallet in Edgewater, MD, has a busy winter planned. “Mast and Mallet ‘bilge team’ is taking up residency in two engine rooms this winter. A 28-foot Pacemaker is in for a new cockpit, but we’ll remove the old fuel tanks first for some modern aluminum tanks coated with epoxy. When the sub-cockpit deck is finished, a synthetic teak deck will be applied. Fake teak side decks may also be included. Last of all, a real mahogany transom is planned for application. Meanwhile, a Cape Dory 28 will have its engine removed for access to the two outboard fuel tanks, one which is leaking. Fuel tanks will be replaced as well as a water tank, heater, etc., and the whole engine room will receive a fresh coat of paint. The woodwork department has two bowsprits to build and some interior projects on Thomas Point boats in for winter storage.”
Meg Roney of Mathews Brothers Boatworks in Denton, MD, also reports a busy year and a busy outlook for 2016. “We are nearing the end of 2015 the same way we entered it—busy and grateful. Thanks again to all of our customers for entrusting us with your boats! We would like to wish Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to everyone. We will be closed from December 24, half day, until January 4 to spend the holidays with our families. Here in the shop, we’re finishing up winterizations and tucking storage boats away—we are at capacity.
We are also working on sprucing up a Hinckley 36 to include Awlgrip, complete strip and build-up of varnish, soda blasting the bottom, and putting new barrier coat on. Our varnish crew has hardly had any reprieve; they’re working on boats that will head south for the winter and storage boats that are wintering with us, so they’re ready to go in the spring. Down at Mathews Landing, the buy boat Crow Bros has been tented for the winter so work can continue. We are in the process of installing the engine and generator while the pilothouse assembly is continuing here at the main shop. Along with the Hinckley 36 spruce-up over the winter, we will be painting an Eastport 32 as well as minor repairs and maintenance items to our 50-plus storage boats. There is also buzz of construction of a new Mathews Bros boat in the next several months as well—another customer taking advantage of our current deal: buy a new boat, get two years maintenance free!”
So, here at the Boatshop Reports, we are going to throw another log on the fire, wish all our readers a very happy Holiday season, and count the days until spring.
by Capt. Rick Franke