After the boat shows with the winter haul-out season approaching, one would think that the pace of life for area boatshops would slow down to a more leisurely level. Apparently, that is not the case this fall. Chesapeake-area shops are seeing an increase in activity even greater than last season’s rush of postponed maintenance.
J.J. Williams of Osprey Composites in Tracys Landing, MD, explained it this way: “We are slammed. We have all kinds of work, refinishing jobs, core replacement jobs, gel coat repairs, you name it.” He indicated a Kadey-Krogan 43 through the open door of the shop behind us. “For example, that boat has major deck core problems and some hull core problems. There is a lot of work to do there.” When I observed that it was good to have too much business, he agreed, but said, “It is really hard to find workers right now. It just seems like no one wants to work.”
Robin Phipps of Phipps Boat Works (also at Tracys Landing) has had the same experience. “We had a busy summer and now we are just swamped with new work for the winter. We are getting orders and work from all over the area, not just locally,” she told me. “We have an unusual project in the shop right now. We are repairing the broken mast from a 27-foot, 1955 Elkins sailboat. The boat is from Connecticut and was on her way to Florida when she had an accident with the Eastport Bridge,” she explained. “Our biggest problem right now is finding enough workers to keep up with all the work we have to do. It just seems like no one wants to work in the boating industry anymore.”
This increase in business is not just for repair and maintenance work. Boat builders also seem to be experiencing an increase in demand. For example Weaver Boatworks has four sportfish under construction, the largest a 90-footer, still upside down and taking shape on the jig in their new shop in Deale, MD. F&S Boatworks in Bear, DE, has three large sportfish in the works, two nearing completion and the third just beginning to look like a boat on the jig. Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD, has posted a help wanted notice on its web page, and the list goes on.
Dave Hannam with Classic Watercraft Restoration in Annapolis reports the boatshop is filling up fast with new fall projects including; a new arrival from Newport, RI, a 1960 Chris-Craft ski boat that has been sleeping in storage for the past 26 years, in for a major tune up and to get the engine running in top speed for its new home destination out on Deep Creek Lake, MD. Hannam also has the 1957 Flying Dutchman FD US 37 sailboat in for repair to the autoclave formed hull. And lastly, the Chris Craft U-22 has been back up on the blocks and just received a new 5200 bottom, and plans to start on the mechanical system are in the works. DV8 2XS, the Gar Wood 16 footer, hit amazing performance record speeds up to 70 miles per hour out on the Bay after fine tuning and adjustments on the trim tabs. According to Hannam, “It’s being run like he stole it!”
Carson Forrester of Forrester Boatworks in Suffolk, VA, checks in with more information about a busy fall. “Forrester Boatworks continues to be busy! The 17-foot Trout skiff is for sale and will be ready for people to test ride shortly. We continue to move forward on the 21-foot Duck boat being built for Josh Bourne of Wingman guide services in Virginia Beach. Josh will be using this boat to guide duck hunting parties in the area. The boat was designed to fit his specific needs and has been a great project. We are currently talking to several people about future projects ranging from 14 to 23 feet. Please give Carson a call if you would like to find out more about Forrester Boatworks.”
Meg Roney of Mathews Boats in Denton, MD, sends us this upbeat report. “The busy fall season has started for us with boat pickups and winterizations in progress. We’re looking forward to catching up with everyone to see how their season went at our sixth annual Fall Festival November 5 from noon – 6 p.m. at our 408 N 10th Shop location. Everyone is welcome. RSVP at mathewsboats.com! We wrapped up summer with new electronics and upsized bow thrusters on two separate Dettling 51s and a Cummins repower on yet another Dettling. We also completed refits on an Eastport 32 that included changing out the countertops and gel coat repairs.
The Buy Boat Crow Bros is taking shape with paint and varnish complete on the exterior of the pilothouse. The windows are installed, as are the navigation lights, and the doors are completed and ready for install.
On the new project front, we’re in the midst of building the first of our upcoming rental fleet at Mathews Landing: a Mathews Brothers 18 footer. We are most excited about working on New Plans for both a 26-foot runabout, and a 32-foot cruiser. Come and see us at the Annapolis Power Boat Show for complete details!”
Chad Brenner of Classic Restoration and Vintage Craft Boats in Philadelphia, PA, anticipates a busy fall. “We are getting ready to install the bottom on the 26-foot electric powered runabout we are currently building here at the shop. That project, along with bringing in our restoration projects for the winter months should keep us busy for a while.”
Interest in electric propulsion seems to be growing in our area. And on that subject, Hartge Yacht Harbor in Galesville, MD, sends us this interesting note. “We are excited to announce that we now carry Torqeedo electric outboards. The desire to safeguard nature for future generations is the same all over the world, and the interest in environmentally friendly solutions is correspondingly high. No fuel cans, no fumes, and helping save the Bay: what could be better? So after a careful search, we settled on Torqeedo because we feel it does the most efficient job per length of runtime. We invite you to call us for more info, or stop by—we have one in the office which we would be glad to run for you!”
On the subject of winterization and getting ready for frigid weather, Alex Schlegel at Hartge Yacht Yard in Galesville, MD, brings up an often overlooked hazard. “Over the years we have seen some surprising things happen during the winter when the water freezes. Water gets everywhere and into everything, but not too much damage occurs unless it can’t get out. There was a deck-stepped mast (of which) ice split the bottom two feet and a roller furling system tube lying on horses and bowed to the ground. The damage wasn’t obvious, but it bulged enough that the halyard swivel wouldn’t slide. We have also had the tubes on rolling stairs split, even though they did not look as if they were built well enough to hold water.
Stainless steel handrails on most boats have drains, but not all boats. Our star welder, Pete Appell, did some fine work on an Albin Trawler’s handrails that had bulged in some places and split in others due to ice. Over the years water had seeped into a joint forward and accumulated in the aft end. The welding was done from our pier with the boat in the water. Pete put a blanket over his head and the rail so that the wind would not blow the argon away. Pete also made and installed a stainless steel strut to help hold the weight of a heavier dinghy on the hardtop. It fits the boat as if it came from the factory that way.”
If you are a do-it-yourselfer and like puttering on your boat and are thinking of winterizing it yourself, you might be interested in a free 15-page Winterizing Guide being offered on line by Boat U.S. To download the guide, go to boatus.com/winterizingguide. It just might prevent an unpleasant surprise in the spring.
by Capt. Rick Franke