It may not have been a bad winter, but it was winter, nonetheless. And now we are eagerly awaiting the warm weather to know that spring has indeed arrived. We start off this month’s reports with an unusual “find.”

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A Sonny Briggs Carolina Flare sports a new coat of AwlGrip at Tiffany Yachts in Burgess, VA. Courtesy of TY

Boat restorers are always on the lookout for “barn finds.” A barn find is an old, sometimes rare, boat that was stored away and forgotten for many years. Restorers tell us that such finds are getting harder and harder to come by. One of our readers, Chuck Hoober of Elkton, MD, called in recently to tell us about a garage find. We’ll let Chuck tell the story:

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Two heirlooms: a 1958 14-foot Skee Craft being towed by a 1952 Farmall Super C tractor in Elkton, MD. Photo by C. Hoober

“My Grandfather and his brother, from 1956 to 1962, operated a company in Intercourse, PA, called Skee Craft Boats. I think they built about 3800 boats during that period. The smallest one was a 14-foot runabout. At the time, Trojan’s major manufacturing facility was in Lancaster and employed about 700 employees, mostly Amish woodworkers. Trojan discontinued the 14-footer, and some of the Amish employees pulled in Grandpa to give them leadership to continue to build boats. Skee Craft’s first assembly plant was in a chicken coop. Apparently the jig to build the 14-footers was bought from Trojan. That’s how they got started. By the last couple of years they were making 24-footers. They never made fiberglass boats; they only made wooden boats. Like so many builders they started to have a hard time in the early 60s competing with fiberglass boats. I guess they decided to shut it down rather than switch to fiberglass. He and his brother were in the boat business together, but Grandpa also had the International Harvester dealership, so he concentrated on selling tractors after Skee Craft closed,” he explained. 

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He then told the rest of the story: “So this fellow called me from the Poconos. He said he had just inherited a house and in the basement garage of this house there was a Skee Craft. He started looking the boat up on the computer and found that the Hoober name was connected to it. He put something out there on social media and my uncle saw it and had me call him. I made a trip up there and looked at the boat and bought it.”

When asked if he planned to restore the boat, he laughed. “There’s nothing to restore. To my knowledge the boat is still in its original condition; it’s never been repainted. The varnish has been touched up. That’s all. It’s an eight or nine out of 10. It’s a 1958 14-footer with a Johnson 35-horse Lark outboard. I don’t know if that runs; I haven’t tried that yet. I’ll have to take time to get it running. But that’s the only restoration needed. The last date we have on the sticker on the boat is 1977. That was probably the last time it was put in the water.”

David Evans, Jr., from Evans Boats in Crisfield, MD, sends us this great catch-up report. “It’s been a while since I have gotten you a report, so I hope this finds you well. It’s been a pretty busy winter around the yard. We were fortunate to have a few of our boats set up at the Commercial Waterman’s Show in Ocean City, MD, in January. Included were a newly completed custom 36-foot Evans, as well as a newly refurbished and near completed 42-foot Somerset. The Somerset was the original Evans hull before the 2000s when we began constructing a new hull we designed that is now known as the Evans. We also had a used Eastern Shore Flats scow that was newly refurbished by our shop that was, and still is, for sale. We announced at the show that we have obtained the mold for the Eastern Shore Flats and will now be available to build these boats new! In a time when the Carolina Skiff style boats are nearly astronomical in price, the average waterman wants something with the same feel for less sticker shock. We hope to offer that! 

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An Eastern Shore Flats Skiff at Evans Boats in Crisfield, MD. Courtesy of EB

“In addition to these things, we have spent this winter building our newest addition to our boat hauling fleet: a brand new, four-axle hydraulic trailer. We will have more information on that as we get closer to completion. We are currently housing about six workboats in our shop that are currently undergoing a number of repairs. From fuel tank and deck replacements to new cabins, to the complete and total reconstruction of older vessels, we are blessed to be able to serve our customers for another year with quality work that the Evans brand has provided for almost 40 years. The economic challenges that we face are unprecedented, but as we adapt together, we are committed to providing the same quality service for our customers as we move forward together.” 

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Jeff Deckelman with Retriever, a 1968 Egg Harbor restored at Deckelman’s Marine in Essex, MD. Photo by B. Griffin

Andy Dize from Roudebush Yacht and Engine Works in Dundalk, MD, sends us this update. “With the warming temperatures, the workload at Roudebush Yacht and Engine Works is also heating up. We recently completed the fiberglass transom repair and the reinstallation of the outboard motors for a Grady White 25. Currently we are working on a fiberglass rail repair and repaint of a Proline 19. Our future repair/upgrade workload is shaping up nicely to include an anchor windlass installation on a CS 41 and adding lead ballast to the keels of a Wave Rover 650 sailboat. In addition to the repair projects, we are in discussions with prospective owners to build up to three 21-foot Wave Rover 650 sailboats. An article on the Wave Rover 650 Project will be posted in the April edition of SpinSheet. Roudebush Yacht and Engine Works is a full-service yacht repair facility, supplying new construction, fiberglass repair, painting, mechanical, electrical, and electronics installation and repair. Reach out to Andy Dize to discuss your maintenance and repair needs.”

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A Proline 19 being repainted and having its side repaired at Roudebush Yacht and Engine Works in Dundalk, MD. Courtesy of RYEW

The following report comes from an American Cruise Lines news release. “American Cruise Lines is pleased to announce that it currently has five more new ships under construction, all scheduled for delivery over the next two years. These are in addition to the three ships the Line took delivery of this year. All five ships will be for the U.S. market and will include a mix of American Riverboats and Coastal Cats. ‘The new contract is an exciting expansion of the American Cruise Lines fleet,’ said Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO of American Cruise Lines. ‘After several years building the coastal fleet, we are once again ready to begin building out the U.S. River cruise capacity.’ The new ships will be built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD. Steven McGee, president of Chesapeake Shipbuilding, brought us up to date on the Coastal Cats program. ‘We launched the third one (American Liberty) early, on February 15, and are currently two months ahead of schedule for her August delivery. The fourth, American Legend, is under construction with 80 percent of the hull scantlings, main deck and below, erected. The final touches are being made to the design of a new class of vessel that is intended to be similar to the coastal cats but has a traditional bow for better operations offshore.’”

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A Lilly Sport Boats Extreme is being delivered from Arnold, MD, to its new owner in Myrtle Beach, SC. Photo by B. Griffin

Rob Hardy of Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD, brings us up to date on his busy shop.

“We actually have two brand new models underway right now. The CY50 is very much a Chesapeake Bay style boat, but with a slightly faster bottom and a single 1650-hp MTU M96l diesel mated with a V-drive since the owner wants to do 40 knots. That’s new, as is our CY39, which is designed for outboards. Both hulls were designed by Lou Codega, who is most well-known for designing the Regulators. We’ve got a 42-footer underway that we’re hanging outboards on, which is a cut down Markley 46. There’s also one of our CY26 Offshore boats underway that is getting a single outboard and a full upper station. She’ll be primarily a Southern Bay cobia boat. We’re steady with the paint work, and we’ve got a few other interesting projects going on, like rehabbing Burt Reynolds’s old boat. We’re also redoing a hydroplane race boat and then we’ve got a one-off here for transom replacement and hull paint.”

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A 1650-HP MTU diesel being mated to a V-drive and installed in a CY50 at Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD. Courtesy of CY 

Richard Hawse in Pasadena, MD, brings us up to date on his backyard project My Way. “The hardtop is being built right now. The chases are being cut in this (the top) so you can have the pod installed on the top. I’ve been fairing the inside of the bridge and put it in primer. The console is in primer and when I get all the electronics in it, the fly bridge will be fully assembled and it should go on the boat in the next couple of months,” he explained. “The steering system is going to be all electric or steer by wire.” He showed me the steering wheel hub and pointed out that there were two electrical contacts and that was all. No hoses or cables, just wires to connect to the computer which controls the steering rams. “Hopefully,” Richard concluded, “In September the boat’s going to go down the road. That’s the goal; from here to Ventnor and from Ventnor to Gibson Island Boat Works and finish out the winter there. That’s if I’m lucky!” He laughed.

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My Way, Richard Hawse’s backyard building project is out of the shed and making progress toward completion in Pasadena, MD. Photo by Rick Franke

That’s it for this month. Join us at the Bay Bridge Boat Show, the unofficial start of the boating season. Then we’ll know it’s really spring. 

By Capt. Rick Franke