Early Hells Bay Boatworks History

SketchIf you’re interested in the origins of Hells Bay Boatworks, Chris Morejohn has been writing about his involvement in the beginnings of the company, his skiff design philosophies, building methods, techniques, and what was going on at the time in skiff building that set the Hells Bay designs and the skiff building industry on a new course.

Also on his blog are some great images of skiffs in variuos stages of design, experimentation and repair that Chris was working on during the early 80’s in Islamorada for clients like Carl Navarre, Dick Negly, Bert Scherb, Hal Chittum and others.

Vintage Bob Hewes Bonefisher Ad

1173230451-hewesbrocu1websmIf you enjoy looking at old advertising here is a vintage Bob Hewes Boats ad, circa 1985.

16 ft. Wooden Skiff Built During the Bill McCoy Rum Festival

Rick Tinsley fastens bolts on the keel of a 16-foot skiff during the Bill McCoy Rum Festival

Rick Tinsley fastens bolts on the keel of a 16-foot skiff during the Bill McCoy Rum Festival

Joe Egeberg of Daytona Beach, FL, popularized the style of wooden skiff with his brother after they bought a boat business near Chesapeake Bay in the 1970s and 1980s. He figures they built between 400 and 500 for commercial and recreational use. Since moving to Florida in 1984, he’s only built five or six. But a recent festival sponsored by the Holly Hill Historic Preservation Society  inspired a group of volunteers to build one during the festival and bring attention to the Maritime Museum.






Vintage Florida Fishing Images

Whale shark recovered from shallow water (1912) it weighed 30,000 pounds and was 45 feet long. Photo: State Archives of Florida

A whale shark recovered from shallow water in  (1912) it weighed 30,000 pounds and was 45 feet long.
Photo: State Archives of Florida

As these vintage photographs illustrate, Florida has attracted the curious and adventurous to test its waters for centuries.



Casting for Recovery Skiff to Debut at Black Fly Lodge

East Cape Skiffs Vantage, "Pinked Out" for Casting for Recovery.

East Cape Skiffs Vantage, “Pinked Out” for Casting for Recovery.

BlackFly Lodge introduces a new pink skiff to raise awareness for CfR’s national fly fishing retreats for women with breast cancer.

 Manchester, VT—March 31, 2014Casting for Recovery, a non-profit organization offering support and educational retreats for women with breast cancer is excited to be honored by BlackFly Lodge, a Bahamas based fly fishing operation that commissioned a pink skiff to raise awareness of breast cancer and CfR. This new boat will be used for guided fly fishing trips in the Bahamas and will feature the Casting for Recovery logo. This is the fifth boat that has a theme at BlackFly Lodge and it will be used for general guided trips as well as special trips hosted by fly fishing professionals.

Clint Kemp, managing partner of BlackFly Lodge, called on East Cape Skiffs to build the custom boat as a tribute to his aunt, Rochelle McCabe, who has just completed her breast cancer treatments in Orlando. The boat will serve as a constant reminder of the struggle endured by many and a source of hope that one day a cure for breast cancer will be discovered. BlackFly Lodge also donated a fishing trip that will be auctioned at CfR’s annual Cast One for Hope national fundraiser in Montana in October.

 “There are so many great organizations doing amazing work with breast cancer and it is our privilege to partner with Casting for Recovery,” says Clint Kemp managing partner of BlackFlyLodge. “We hope that the pink skiff will bring greater awareness to the work and mission of CfR and every name that is signed under her hatches will be a testimony to love and hope.”

“We are honored to be part of the creation of this boat and the journey it is about to embark on,” says Casting for Recovery executive director Whitney Milhoan. “This stunning boat will be a great reminder that so many people are touched by breast cancer and we are excited to follow it, chronicle its journeys and see how many lives it touches. Here at CfR we strive to create awareness and spread the love of fly fishing and that is exactly what this boat will do in the Bahamas and beyond.”


A Guides Day Off

RotneMosquito Lagoon guides Billy Rotne and Willy Le enjoy a day off in their home waters.




Mosquito Lagoon Guides Day Off from Willy Le on Vimeo.

One Man’s Skiff Renovation; Part III

In the paint booth waiting for Awlgrip Primer to dry.

In the paint booth waiting for Awlgrip Primer to dry.

We checked back in Seth Vernon to find out where he is with his Beavertail B2 renovation.  The latest updates include a lot of sanding, laying down some Awlgrip Primer, a lively debate about what new deck color should be chosen, a visit to a local fabrication shop for a custom poling platform, a few modifications to the trailer while the primer dries, some coxcombing on the steering wheel and finally back to the sanding to get ready for Awlgrip non-skid.  You can check out a little more of Seth’s renovation on his blog.


Zane Grey and Bonefish Oblivion

Author and Keys fishing pioneer Zane Grey. Photo: IGFA

Author and Keys fishing pioneer Zane Grey.
Photo: IGFA

Grey referred to the trancelike state sometimes achieved aboard a skiff after hours spent beneath the hot sun attempting to sneak up on schools of bonefish as “bonefish oblivion.”





Fulton Coupler Hinge

Fulton HingeOne of the real joys of small boat ownership is being able to store your rig in the garage.  In addition to keeping it out of the elements and generally taking good care of it, you also have the opporunity to do any necessary and “unneccesary” tinkering in relative comfort.  Trouble is, garages these days are barely large enough to park a car or two in and get out, so getting a skiff in amongst all your other stuff can require a little geometry so the door will close with that all important inch of clearance.  If your rig has a break-away or removable tongue, you’re probably in business, if not, a swing tongue is a great solution that can really make garage storage easier and simpler.   A Fulton Fold-Away coupler is a great solution, it’s a relatively easy install and can create up to a 48″ swing tongue.

Before cutting the tongue off the trailer and realizing I’d forgotten to do something important like pull chase lines for the wiring harness, I spent some time laying out exactly what needed to be done, and in what order.   Measure twice, cut once.  The installation process is very smooth and the tools required are pretty basic.  I used a 4″ angle grinder with a metal cutting disc, a reciprocating saw would work but I found the angle grinder worked really quickly.  In addition to all the standard miscellaneous tools; hammer, tape measure, square, etc, you’ll need a drill (two charged batteries helps) and ratchet that can accomdate half inch bits, a torque wrench capable of 80 ft.-lbs, and a number 55 torque bit which I found at Northern Tool Supply for about $5.   Fulton provides a complete set of installation instructions which are easy to follow and they make coupler kits for a variety of sizes capable of fitting trailers with frame dimensions from 2 x 3 all the way up to 3 x 5.  For this install, a bolt-on style hinge was used, weld-on models are available also.

The tongue before measuring and cutting

The tongue before measuring and cutting, note the location of the wiring harness exit.

After pulling chase lines through the frame for the wiring harness (and then being extra careful not to cut them), the tongue was cut using a 4″ angle grinder with a metal cutting disc.  A file knocked down any burrs or rough edges and it’s a good idea to hit the raw exposed metal with some Cold Galvanizing spray to protect it from rusting.  I also test fitted the coupler and marked the locations for drilling the holes required for bolting the hinge in place.

The tongue after cutting with marked pilot holes for drilling.

The tongue after cutting with marked pilot holes for drilling.

Test fitting with pilot holes marked prior to drilling.

Test fitting with pilot holes marked prior to drilling.

At this stage there are lots of pilot holes to be drilled, 16 in total and it’s easier (and much more accurate) to begin by drilling with an 1/8″ diameter bit and then expand the holes to 1/4″, 3/8″ and finally 1/2″ using the appropriate sized bits.  Now you’re ready to install the thru-bolts and snug them down tight with the torque wrench.

Hinge installed and ready to reroute wiring.

Hinge installed and ready to reroute wiring.

With the coupler hinge in place it’s time to reroute the wiring harness.  I found it easy to keep the wiring harness out of the way by coiling it in an empty 5 gallon bucket.  Note the chase lines draped over the top of the hinge ready to be reattached and pulled back through the trailer frame.  You’ll want to make sure that the rerouted wiring harness has enough surplus to allow the hinge to comfortably open but not so much as to be pinched when you close the coupler for trailering.

The installed hinge in the folded position.

The installed hinge in the folded position.

The completed installation ready for storage and trailering, you can go ahead and slide your skiff into position in the garage.  Now that I can store the boat straight in instead of at an angle, it’s saved all kinds of room and the garage door easily clears.  The Fulton Coupler hinge is available at most quality marine stores for around $100.



South Florida the Top Dream Destination for Anglers

Photo Credit:  State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/266996

Photo: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/266996

Whether it’s the fish, climate, scenery, guides or the skiffs, South Florida remains the top dream destination for anglers, according to a recent survey by Southwick Associates.

Fernandina Beach, FL – Hawaii, Florida, Texas, California, Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Alaska-all offer world-class fishing. And with cold weather slamming much of the country for the past two months and spring still more than a month away, where do seasoned anglers dream of traveling to land their next big one? According to a survey conducted by AnglerSurvey.com, South Florida remains the top dream destination of would-be traveling anglers with 43 percent of those surveyed choosing it as the location they would most prefer to fish if they had the opportunity.

The popularity of South Florida was followed by Costa Rica with just over 18 percent of respondents selecting the Central American country as the place they would go. Next on the list was Mexico with 12 percent, followed by the Bahamas with just over 12 percent and Panama with more than five percent. Nearly 12 percent of those surveyed said they had no preference, while 11 percent said they wouldn’t choose any of those places.  Additional destinations written in by anglers included both salt- and fresh-water fishing locations such as Texas, California, Alaska, Minnesota, Alabama and a handful of others.

While all of the asked about destinations offer superb fishing-49 percent of responding anglers said that was one of the chief reasons they chose their respective dream fishing location-there are other factors that may have helped South Florida edge its competition. In addition to perceived great fishing, other top reasons for choosing the place respondents selected include less hassle to get there with 22 percent selecting that motivation, 21 percent cited feeling “more secure” at the location as a concern and 20 percent pointed to the cost of travel as a factor.

“By virtue of being tropically located, but still a part of the United States, South Florida certainly offers a certain appeal to a lot of anglers not wishing to deal with the cost or additional concerns of international travel,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com. “Efforts by all travel destinations to improve convenience, contain costs and hassles and provide a strong sense of security can boost their sportfishing tourism dollars.”

To help continually improve, protect and advance hunting, shooting and other outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and/or AnglerSurvey.com. Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.

About AnglerSurvey.com, HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com:  Launched in 2006, AnglerSurvey.com, HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com help the outdoor equipment industry, government fisheries and wildlife officials and conservation organizations track consumer activities and expenditure trends.  Survey results are scientifically analyzed to reflect the attitudes and habits of anglers and hunters across the United States. Follow them on Facebook at http://facebook.com/huntersurvey and http://facebook.com/anglersurvey or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/AnglerSurvey and https://twitter.com/#!/HunterSurvey.