Why do I feel I need to do this? Bring up the past and muck around in the present.
I feel I owe it to Hal Chittum for offering me an opportunity to excel in my chosen craft.
Because it is my story as much as it is Hal's and Flips.
The above mentioned have written and produced 3 videos on the history of the Hells Bay skiff #1 and how it came about and how they, along with it, changed the course of flats boat thinking and history. At least that is what they are trying to make you believe.This is a great advertising agenda because there is a new generation of buyers out there that were young adults when HB started. Building a company image around a fishing legend and the origin of a skiff with the way it was built is a great strategy. But changing the story to suit your agenda is not. Not in today's instant access to information.
The general story lines start out as true in that Flip was one of the four founding partners in a boat building company called Hells Bay Boatworks. From there it gets very losely told and edited around Flip Pallot with barely an acknowledgment of Hal and Jammie Chittum. I get allocades from Flip for some of my alleged skills and get the association of being the skiffs designer only on Hells Bays Home internet page written up as Hells Bays " Visonary boats designer" yet on this same page there is no mention of Hall Chittum. Here is the old picture of the three of us that my wife Rachel took with Flips camera in Mimms one early morning. Today It's just me and Flip "the founders of Hells Bay." Baloney!
These videos contain many of what I will call miss truths. Calling it lies is too strong of a word for here. I feel that Chris Petterson, Todd Fuller and the other people that work for the Pettersons are just turning a blind eye and don't really want to know the truth. I can say this because they have never followed up on offers of giving them all the written history of HB that I have.
When selling out my shares of Hells Bay to my Partners the Chittums and Flip Pallot I signed a document that said I would agree to a lifetime of never sueing them over HB and not saying anything that could be construed as derogatory to the three partners. An old southern friend of mine would say "Chris, you will have to couch your words very carefully here". I will do my best.
This is my keep my mouth shut document.
Yesterday I got an email from Hells Bay with its latest news. I didn't know that I was on their email list untill now. Flip Pallot was being lauded for being "THE" founder of HBBWs by them and getting inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame. Well done Flip. Except you were not "THE" founder of Hells Bay Boatworks.
What I hope to explain and describe in these following words, pictures and facts is how the history of a simple skiffs oringins can be retold in such a misleading way that the true story could be lost forever. By printing one misleading word out of context, leaving out a persons name, and producing advertising to suit your agenda while possibly trying to create a new Brand Name by discarding the original story line and people along the way.
I won't let that happen for several reasons.
The first reason is that I am part of Hells Bays history from before day one. I have a wife and kids that were there from day one watching the company grow with my involvement and commitment to it.
We feel that the story should be told true and straight.
Second is the simple fact that it was Hal Chittum that got me into the flats boat world back in 1983.
He also hired me to design and build hull # 1. This skiff became the " Whipray" that started Hells Bay Boatworks.
Hal Chittum brought his friend Flip Pallot into the company as a salesman, company representative and as a friend and mentor. Hal and his wife Jammie Chittum put up all the money to start HB.
The Chittums are a team. When I say Hal from here on assume both the Chittums.
I want to explain why Hal Chittum should be known as "THE" founder of Hells Bay and not Flip Pallot and surely not me. We all played our different roles that made this simple skiff into a great company.
The last is simple. I feel that you the consumers, the people that feed the industry at all levels should not be mislead. You are all buying into a product's history. If the current owners can't tell the story straight now then what are they doing in misleading advertising about how they are building their boats?
This blog will start out with a story of how one word can change the perception of a product and how a very good magazine got into a bunch of trouble with its advertisers for sloppy editorial work....or maybe they just for once wanted to tell the truth.
I love reading magazines while my wife does the grocery shopping. I know from past experience when trying to get our Hells Bay skiff written up in a fishing magazine that it was impossible to get into one unless you bought advertising first. So with this past knowledge I read everything with a prejudiced eye towards the truth. Ever notice why all the boats or products that buy full page adds get all the attention in that magazine?
It took until we built and had the "Guide Skiff" selling well along side the " Whipray" and the early "Waterman" skiffs that we had spent enough advertising space and money in Fly Fishing in Salt Waters that with Flip and Hal's connections they lined up the writer Dean Travis Clarke to stop by our shop to go for a test ride in our skiffs and write up a New Boats article about Hells Bay and our skiffs.
I wish I could write my name that neat.
Hal and Flip had a day's events planned for Mr. Clarke. He was a big guy so they were worried about how he would do in our light weight skiffs. They were not sure if he could get up on the tower to pole the skiff.
They started his days out by a brief visit to the shop meeting me and talking for a couple sentences and then they were off to go airboating and bird shooting. After being out with Flip in his custom airboat and all the great skills he has in running it shooting a bunch of birds and seeing the St Johns river like never before they stopped for lunch in Mimms best Bar-B-Que restaurant.
From here they went down to the Mosquito Lagoon in a back area ramp and show cased our two skiffs.
Afterwords when Hal came back to the shop he said it went so well and that Dean was very happy.
The boat test article that came out is a builders dream revue. I did not get mentioned in it but my designs did. That was enough for me. BUT when the publishers edited it they missed out in not changing one simple word from "THE" to "ONE OF".
By Dean Travis Clarke saying that he had fished "THE" best in the world and the Magazines editor not changing it to quell all the other skiff builders that were advertising in their magazine they were bombarded by Hewes , Maverick, Action Craft and the others demanding equal billing or they would drop their full page adds and leave.
If you have old copies of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters look at the issue right after this review. Sheesh so much grandstanding and full page adds.
That's why when FFSW published the article by Jan Vogt on the new flats fishing boats all of the advertising manufacturers had to be mentioned along side the Hells Bays new Whipray skiff and the new market of emerging technical skiffs. At that point the other builders were just trying to figure out what we were up to. The only one that has is Scott Deal and his Maverick HPX. Action Craft has always been doing fine in their own market niche.
I've passed on this tale of Hells Bays history to show how one word can be used to convey a thought. So maybe Chris Peterson and Flip Pallot believe that Flip really is "THE" founder of Hells Bay.
In today's instant world of Internet news and information anything you say or do in print or pictures that is in social media is pretty much for all to see. By just writing this blog post today with prominent people's names they will show up online pretty close to their home Google page sites within hours.
This is why I try to "couch" my words carefully when talking of others.
The fact that Chris Petterson, and Flip Pallot have decided to erase the name of Hal Chittum from the company's home page on its internet site have confused me. By leaving bits and pieces of old Hells Bay Boatworks past advertizing jargon text in its home page and then editing out Hal Chittums name in this and the photo of the three of us standing behind our Whipray skiff to me is embarrassing for Chris Peterrson and quite naive.
By going back 10-12 pages when Googling any of the three founders names it's the three of us being talked about in others blog pages, group sites, magazine and newspaper articals.
Today it's now just me and Flip on Hells Bay Google, no Hal Chittum. It's gotten so that all kinds of people that are new to Hells Bay on the Internet just think of the old Hells Bay as just Flip and I. All journalist, blog writers and Magazines shame on you for not researching this better. It is bad for your reputation to just copy from the letterhead.
Let me tell you it's very far from the truth.
After I sold my shares of HBBWs to the Chittums they sold HB. The new owner of HB , Brian Brodrick dropped my name from the company's history too!
When you do this kind of editing for leaving the fold or not being part of the team anymore I feel it just shows your past customers and future ones what kind of people you really are.
I observed this kind of behavior with my daughters during their teenage years amongst other young girls. Very mean and vicious behavior against my girls for not wanting to be like rest.
Sad to see this going on today with adult men.
When Hal Chittum hired me to start and run HBBWs he paid me a wage of $20.00 an hour for my labour to be kept track of by me along with the Chittums offering me a 24% share in the company. It took them over a year to get me the share stock but I did get it and that's what I sold back to them when I left. I kept track of all the company's employees times and all expenses. This information I faxed back and forth for the first year daily to Jammie Chittum in the Florida Keys. Jammie wrote all the checks. I have all the faxes and info today.
The Chittums paid my salary and all expenses when on the road during boat shows or when smoozing clients. I felt they were my bosses and clients at the same time. I had to build the boats and get things done to make sure their money was well spent.
I always looked at the relationship between the Chittums and I as they owned the majority stock so held the cards, I had the knowledge, skill and drive to build and run the shop, and that Flip was always to be looked at as Hals buddy that had the TV show and the following that would bring the people to OUR HOUSE to buy. I have borrowed Flips term. I like it.
Hal and I had in past years talked tons so we had a very good rapore together. Flip I barely knew.
When we went to boat shows I drove the skiff out by myself to Texas and set up the pool and booth on my own. Hal and Flip flew in and never lifted a finger. This I expected as Hal was running the show, I was the worker bee and Flip was the honey along side our skiff to lure the customers to our booth. This went on for my entire time I was at HB.
In the early stages of HBs advertising Flip wrote some of our copy. I was busy building the skiffs to make payroll and keep things flowing. The Chittums were living in the Florida Keys building other HTCHITTUM stores. The first HB brochure was written by Hal in the Florada keys and sent up to me to mail out to anyone that called for a brochure or came by. We brought this brochure to our first boat show in Huston.
Just after I had finished building the Guide and its molds with the HB crew Flip sent this phamplet by to be sent out to all the people who were on our mailing list. By then a few hundred. When my wife Rachel read this she flipped out. She was pissed. I was disappointed. For me it was sad to see a man who had almost nothing to do with a design and the day to day process of engineering and building of our skiffs to say "Chris we need a big Whipray for the guides to use" and then claim to have designed it and the Whipray too.
In this brochure it goes on to contradict what Hal says in our first brochure to say "that we had met quite by accident to build two skiffs that he had designed"! This story line trend continues to this day in The Hells Bay videos. The most significant thing that Flip says in the #1 hull skiff story video is that he wishes that skiff could not tell the stories it has heard. If it could it would have flipped the three of them out of it for so many fish tales. If you have one of these brochures they should be very rare.
I felt at the time to just keep quiet and keep things rolling. I had a family to feed, a new boat to build as our future home and wanted to just get on with it. I said no more of Flip thinking he's going to say he designed the skiffs to Hal. When someone claims to have helped design and develop the original Maverick skiff with its deep vee. What does it mean. The hull was a knock off of someone else's design and labour. The deck is pretty simple. So what actually was the involvement? What type of carpet to use, to make the hatch channels drain in to lockers.
Lets get real here. When I say I've been involved in a boats design and build it means I've got drawings on paper, dust on my pants and I am itchy.
Over the years Flip has told the story of how Hells Bay started by using the under a tree we got together and decided to build three skiffs for our shelves story line. Well Flip does have big trees in his backyard drive way. But it all started in his garage with he and Hal asking me to design and build an interior for an ultimate john boat. I'm the guy that talked them into the Whipray. Flip was there because he and Hal were friends, they had always talked boats and Hal thought of me as the go to guy. That's why he called me, not Flip.
I at the time wanted a good job, a bigger sailboat to be built by me and an escape time to get me and my family back out on the sea. Hal Chittum provided me with this opportunity, not Flip Pallot.
This thing that Flip keeps bringing up about the three of us wanting a skiff for each of us is so out there. I had two young girls and a simple sailboat that we lived in and no car. What in the world would I want with a flats fly fishing skiff in my life. Plus I can build what I want on my own, especially a 16' 375 lb skiff.
Please somebody at HB edit and research Flips stories.
Selling my shares of Hells Bay back to the Chittums took almost a year of back and forth. It was not a fun process for me. During my time at Hells Bay on many occasions I asked my partners to just let me give back my shares and let me go on my way. For me the behind the scenes dynamics, working hours and dealing with employees was too much for me at times. They always insited that I not do this and tried to find a ways to help me in my work load.
By keeping my shares and eventually selling them back to the Chittums I made a bit of money which enabled me to buy my land in the Bahamas and get ahead. I will always be thankful to all three of them for this.
But I did earn my shares.
The first video of Flip talking to Chris Peterson about How Hells Bay came about is painful for me or any of my family to watch. Mostly for Flip as it's plain to us he looks very uncomfortable in it trying to please his boss. But he does mention Hal Chittum briefly. I have already gone over all the miss truths and discrepancies In a past post. Basically embarrassing to me, Chris Petterson and crew for producing this video with no back ground check or veting.
The #1 skiff story video is part fun to watch for me and painful again to see the bad editing and Flip so uncomfortable trying to remember the past. Here again he just barely mentions Hal Chittum again.
I loved seeing my old skiff build flying along. I'am dismayed when Flip says it was all broken to pieces when being towed across the Gulf Stream. Sure looks good to me. Show me where all the pieces were put back together. Again he talks about us and the three skiffs. Sheesh ... Move on Flip. He talks about my Americas cup boat knowledge. That reference came from 50 boats on when we were trying to build the platinum skiff using Vacume bagging for the first time. An Americas cup designer gave us the materials and layup schedule for these three skiffs. It was a total failure. Flip got way ahead of the story line there.
The drawings shown in the video were all drawn by me. I gave them to Chris Petterson as a thank you for putting my name back on the Hells Bay Letterhead. The pictures too of building the skiff under the tarps.
Flip uses his standard two hands together veeing down to try and describe how he was part of the Whiprays design process using the word cleaving again as he did in the first video. What he really was looking for when the three of us met in his garage leaning over his aluminum john boat was a really nice water tight interior for his flat bottom aluminum banger of a skiff.
If you don't believe me ask my wife or Hal Chittum, they were there.
The third video out called " Uncharted" is a wonderful picture. It brought tears to my eyes seeing my old skiff, listening to Flips narration and the images shown of south Florida. It's a great story that Flip tells in his classic way. I loved it. And to think that a skiff I designed on the table in my 32' yawl and built under a tree and plastic tarp could change an industry, my life and my family's for the Better and have touched so many lives. Bravo Chris Petterson, the cinematographers and Flip Pallot for such a good feel good picture.
This picture is about Flip and his life's story. It's produced by the company he represents and they get his good will and vibes by being associated with him and it. Good business there.
Hal and I get our two seconds in as being Flips partners in his search for the quest of freedom.
You have to know that we were as we are not named, only by assumed knowledge.
This is the kind of advertising that you can do to create a great name brand. Fishing legend, and a product that started out as a game changer. All bought and paid for after all the hard work was done.
When My name was dropped by Hells Bay when I left I was off sailing the Atlantic with my family. At the time I thought it was immature. I knew that the new owners were going to have their hands full without me being around for the basic simple advice and knowledge that I have of building boats.
The rest is history.
What Chris Petterson and all of you should know is that what made HB work was that the three off us brought three different qualitys and skills to the table when starting Hells Bay.
Hal Chittum brought good buisness knowledge, lots of contacts in the industry, a drive and quest to build the best and the cash backing to make it work as long as I could do my job.
Hal brought Flip Pallot into the fold as his friend, with the savy knowledge that Flip would legitimize our little boat with his name once I got the final molds built and skiffs going out the door.
Flips job was to be the sales man. As it turns out Flip still is the sales man. He's one of the draws that gets people in the door. But I still feel it's the way the skiffs are built and how they performed that really made it all work. It just needed all three of us to get the word out there.
My job was to make it all happen on the shop floor. As it turned out I became the salesman too along with a lot of other things that drove me nuts at times. Anyone that bought the first 320 boats that were built look at your bill of sale... Most likely 2/3 rds of the skiffs were sold by me.
After sailing about the Atlantic I ended up years ago in St. Augustine Florida. Hal Chittum was Abuilding his latest skiff down the road from where I was to be building a large racing multihull. We had not talked since I left HB and I got my lawyer to talk to his so we could settle out and we could move on.
I like to move on, forgive and start over if possible. Hal did not know I was in town. I walked into his shop and tapped him on the back. He turned around and gave me a huge hug lifting me off my feet.
All was as before, we spent hours going over his new boat design. He told me I was the smart one to get out clean. We have since then talked via emails now and then.
I have not talked to Flip personally since my last year at HB.
It would be great if the three of us could all sit down together and tell stories of the early years. But I'am afraid that it will never happen. I'am willing.In the mean time I will be correcting Chris Pettersons redirection of his vision of what really came about as he goes along in this blog.
Flip Pallot was there at the beginning but not as the single founder of Hells Bay Boatworks.
Chris Petterson, be a stand up guy and put Hal Chittums name back on Hells Bay Boatworks company letter head history and let's all move along.
And get a better editor. It's " ONE " of the founders of Hells Bay.