Wednesday, January 25, 2017
New skiffs, old builds
Tonight finds me writing onboard the Hogfish Maximus anchored in the Lee of a mangrove island in Little Basin off of Islamorada.
The evenings residents are chattering away discussing theirs days success of catching fish and other aquatic creatures for their sustenance. The Pelicans clopp their beaks, the Egrets natter on with the Comorants grunting back and forth to each other. I envy at times their simple lives of just having to be the best at what they do to make it through their lives.
But being a human being I and others are a bit more complicated. With this in mind I will share what's up in my life now of being anchored in Islamorada in the Florida keys. Islamorada can be called the epicenter of flats skiff boats due to the amount of fishing guides based out of this small island.
I have been busy looking over the latest new skiffs being built with looks at some of my own old one off custom builds that are here still.
Following are pictures of skiffs that I have seen here and many other pictures that have been sent to me.
This is Dustin Bates and his skiff that he has designed and built on his own. Dustin contacted me via email after I posted my blog about chine detail ideas. He wanted to incorporate them in his skiff build. This started a long email dialog of me giving opinions on where things could go as per his photos of his upside down skiff plug.
He sent these pictures of sea trials using a 1989 70 hp Yahmaha 2 stroke outboard with the hull as seen weighing 500 lbs. With the two men aboard it runs 42 mph and he swears after 4 months of very rigorous testing in all weather he has never gotten wet. The skiff will not skid at speed in a tight turn and is dead quiet polling straight.
He is very happy. Well done Dustin.
Stern view with nice rounded corners. The tabs are recessed which I am not a fan of due to the extra drag when running and the noise from the stern. But all the details are very nicely done.
Coming out of the mold.
Dustin has built several deck molds as his brother and other family members are building their own skiffs.
Thanks Dustin Bates for taking a chance on some of my ideas and proving they work.
Jon Conners sent me these pictures of his Plywood stitch and glue skiff when it was still warm up in his home State of Vermont. He is very happy with this skiff and his new motor.
This is Ralph Shepards Whipray that I built along with the new crew in the first year of Hells Bay Boatworks getting a complete new paintjob. This skiff is 18 years old, was hand laid up using dyvinycell core laid in by hand. Old school boatbuilding but built with conscientious care. Should out live us all.
This boat was redone at Stoner Boatworks. Looks better than new.
This is a skiff that baseball legend Ted Williams brought down from Novia Scotia over 40 years ago.
He bought 6 of these cold molded hulls and each one was fitted out by different people down in the Keys. The McLaughlin family bought this skiff from Ted Williams in the early 80s. It's still in the family.
The grandfather kept a record of all the people that worked on this skiff with my name on it having done a rebuild in 1986 including a new foam core floor replacing the rotted plywood one.
Morten Lovstad from Texas sent me these pictures of his home built plywood stich and glue skiff.
She's a real beauty weighing less than 500 lbs.
I like the stern detail of filling in the wedges to keep her quiet.
Morten added the pads to get more lift and to try and help the sliding. We have been talking about my ideas on a short trim fin on the outter chine positioned across from the transom area.
Now here is a bunch of pictures that was sent to me by a Face Book follower of one of my old skiff builds. I built this skiff for Carl Navearre back in 1984 in all core and S- Glass. She was my favorite skiff build from that era. Last time I saw her was 15 years ago looking a bit ragged. She is looking rough here but what I see is still a skiff in great shape under all that mold.
I would rebuild new hatch edges and just repaint the rest. She used to have teak toe rails on the bow.
I have a signed picture from President George Bush to me with Senator Simpson and George Hummel as guide in her. She was called BACKLASH by Carl Navearre. He was a great client. I built a custom deck for his Sidewinder skiff too.
Rick Justice rigged all my custom skiffs in Plantation key. These skiffs still have most all of the original rigging in them other than new steering systems. Thanks Rick.
Rachel and I moving a salvaged mast the other day in our Ultimate Skiff, or known at HBBWs as a Plankton.
Here's Dev Morings Super Skiff in Louisiana I built for him in 1985. He's kept her up perfectly.
Here's Charley Causey's Super Skiff I built for him in 1986. It's seen better days but is still in great structural shape. The owner refuses to sell it for all offers.
This is Sandy Morrets Super skiff I built in 1985. It's being redone here by Carlos Ruiz in Plantaion key.
He cut the cap off here like this to get the leaking aluminum fuel tank out. I went from my custom made fiberglass tanks to aluminum ones with Sandys skiff. Shouldn't have as all the other fiberglass tanks are still in great shape.
Carlos cut the squares in the floor to refastened the floor to the stringers. He said the floor was squeaking a bit. The stringers were fine. He reglued the floor down and reglassed.
Now see what a bit of energy and $ looks like.
When finished Carlos and Brian Floyd ran her in a Calcutta start for a fishing tournament with 30 other skiffs. No one could catch or pass her with her 90 hp she is so light and fast. That's why the owner of the worn out skiff above won't sell his.
Heres Ren Stanlys latest home designed and built skiff waiting for its engine. Go to FB and look him up on Trick My Skiff. He has lots of energy. I'am waiting to hear how she performs.
A few days ago I ran into a past customer from back in 1984. Ricou DeShaw ordered this custom one off skiff for his retiring father. His Father has passed on but it's still in the family. Ricou says he will never sell it. It has been through 4 motors since it went out my shops doors and countless miles and seas.
The hatch in the bow was added later.
A stern stress crack but it's really just the fairing. Not bad for all those years.
Here you can see some Bi-Axel cloth on the deck underside. It was given to me for free back then by a salesman as it had just come on the market. See it has held up fine but I still don't like working with it just like I didn't back then for this one skiffs deck.
This is the top of the fiberglass fuel tank I was building back then. Ricou had it scoped out recently and it's still perfect with no fuel problems ever.
It's good to see that over the past 34 years that these skiffs with reasonable care are still working and usable. Just like me they are aging and only wanting a bit more time on the water for more adventures.
It's so nice to be able to look old customers in the eye and not have to worry about past bad building habits.
When I say I built the above past skiffs I had help from my past ex wife LaWanda Shellan. We were married for 9 years. She helped with the books, keeping the shop clean, with sanding, glassing the hulls and keeping me going 10 hours a day. We were a good team. I could never have built so many skiffs in such a short time without her help and support.
LaWanda passed away last August. This past Sunday I along with six of her close friends laid her ashes to rest in a nice Lee behind an island here in Islamorada as per her wishes.
She loved to fish. Lawanda was a yacht Captian for CSY yachts delivering 9 CSY 44' Cutters to the BVIs and one to Tonga. We built our own sloops together along with rebuilding many other boats side by side. She was an accomplished navigator using the sextant back in the days before GPS.
Lawanda graduated from FSU Suma Cum Laude with a Masters in education. She taught for many years in Key West. We met in Little Basin in Islamorada in 1979.
We all will miss her.
This is Little Basin in 1979 in front of what is now World Wide Sportsmens extravaganza place. This was the only dock back then. The horizon today is filled with 30' tall mangroves. We had just launched our sloop that we were to live on while we built our next one.
Lawanda on the bow of of our sloop "Blue" sailing engineless through out the Bahamas.
Good sailing, fishing and adventuring to you LaWanda on your next journey.
Here's a couple of recent pictures of two unfortunate skiffs that were not anchored properly for beach camping off of Cape Sable.
I think they were just pulled up on the beach and the owners did not know of the big wind coming.
It's a good thing I was not beach combing as I would have had them dug out and had them towing behind my skiff in no time.
The LITIHUM skiff project is moving right along. They will be making the mold this week.
Could this stern shape be the future of serious flats skiffs? We'll soon see if was worth the effort.
Seeing how well Dustin Bates skiff is performing is encouraging.
To see all the pictures of the LITIHUM build go to my blog site hogfishdesign.wordpress.com
To finish off here's a recent picture of a couple of guys with an Everglades Python that would make a good start on my PYCOONATOR feast.