Letters to the Editor - Issue 142
Fond memories of the flattie skiff
Those of us of a certain age remember this type of boat well (the flatiron skiff, a.k.a. flattie, as featured in Peter Spectre’s May/June column). They did duty everywhere. They were the classic pond and lake rowboat, the boatyard workboat, the basic crabber, eeler, and fisherman, and harbormaster patrol boat. They were also the only boat the dog ever really liked.
At the age of 12, growing up in western Long Island Sound, I was most fortunate to have my own 12-foot wooden flat-bottomed skiff. Skimmar Boats of Greenwich, Connecticut, manufactured the classic design in two lengths, in a lightweight plywood version that you could get in kit form or as a completely finished boat with seats, consoles, and decking. Mine was somewhere in between—an unfinished hull with a seat that my dad helped me complete. We added a second seat, a small deck, and floorboards, painted the interior off-white and the hull bright red, added a 7-hp Johnson, and away I went. I put a lot of hours and miles on that boat, then sold it before going to college.
Now, many decades and many boats later, how I wish I still had that boat! Most of today’s runabouts are too large, overpowered, or too built out for my simple needs. Small dinghies are not stable enough; and inflatables, though stable, are very difficult to negotiate. I think I may have filled the void with the recent purchase of a 12-foot Carolina skiff with a 9.9-hp outboard. Even this may be more than I need, but I hope it will prove a practical alternative for an old lady who mourns the loss of her wonderful “flattie” skiff.
Projects in Southport
I just had a look at the May/June 2016 issue of MBH&H and really enjoyed the article on our Boothbay Region marine businesses. Thanks for the great article, as there is indeed a great deal of interesting marine activity down here.
I’m sorry you didn’t have the time to visit with us here at Southport Island Marine, as these past couple of years we have been very busy with some really interesting projects, including:
- The total restoration (again!) of our 1898 Crosby catboat. Since the last report—which was featured in your magazine in July 2005—the boat has gotten a new keel, new cabin and decks, and new mast stepped in the original mast step (correcting an alteration made in the 1950s).
- The construction of a Southport 30, custom built with outboard motors. It is slated for sea trials later this summer.
- The introduction of a new boat model built on the Handy Billy 21 hull, but configured much differently.
And, of course, all the many small projects that are the bread and butter of our business.
Come by and visit some time, and keep up the good work!
Southport Island Marine
Wanted: wooden boats to rescue
I have been a subscriber off and on for a number of years. With the advent of the new title (the addition of Homes), even reading about houses brings the Maine landscape into the ever-present flashback of many years of visiting, especially along the coast.
As a lifelong operator of small- to medium-size boats, I have been observing the tremendous increase in costs/ prices of all sizes of boats through the ads for used boats in Maine. As an owner of wooden boats, I have memories of spring commissioning, from caulking my wooden dory to varnishing my 24'
Carver outboard-powered runabout.
My request to you would be to have an article for those in search of used wooden boats that have a reasonable life to them and are of reasonable price. There must be a market for boats that are in Maine and were built in Maine, but are now being neglected due to fiberglass design and construction. Is there a market vehicle for “rescue” wooden boats that are laid up in Maine boatyards?
I have been visiting Maine since the day I climbed the stairs and found the glass-enclosed products at L.L. Bean in Freeport, and have made yearly pilgrimages to Nubble Light.
T. M. Burke
Ever since I was little our family has spent our summer vacations in Maine. My grandmother was one of the first Navy yeomen at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. She was born in Portsmouth, so we had cousins there.
We spent every summer in Kittery and in York Beach, with a few drives up to Bar Harbor. Memories of Maine are burned into my head. Driving up in the back of the old station wagon while my father turned around to yell every 10 minutes and threatened to turn the car around. Our first stop was always a little lobster shack on Hunking Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Can’t remember the old woman’s name who owned it, but she used to swear like a sailor. We thought that was cool!
When my girls were young, we took them up to climb Cadillac Mountain, picking blueberries along the way. On the way we even stayed in the same hotel room that I had stayed in 40 years earlier in Kittery. During the 1990s I took courses at The WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine. I was hooked after that, and now I make my (modest) living building and repairing small wooden boats here in New Jersey.
MBH&H fills the void in me until I get back there. Even though we live in New Jersey (I’m probably the only one in New Jersey with a WERU bumper sticker on my truck), when I go to Maine I feel like I’m going home. If you haven’t spent time in Maine, it’s hard to explain. I love the cold water and the tough winters; I don’t like anything too easy. It’s a different way of life. A good way. All the stories you print are great. Keep them coming.