From Reedville To Lake Tahoe With Love.

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This may look like a simple building. But how grand it is.

As horrific as the pandemic has been on the planet, like anything, it’s brought us positive things. Sorry, it’s my curse, I see the positive in everything. Sadly traveling to see our friends and loved ones is almost impossible, but on a positive note, I have explored many of the areas around me. Like my home, and seeing people in my own backyard. WOW! I know seems rather obvious. But sometimes we are all wound up in whats in the next door neighbors yard, we miss our own little universe.

Sweet Pea is on Lake Tahoe this month

I thought at first entering Sweet Pea in the Lake Tahoe show would be fun and yes it is. BUT a strange emotion swept over me when I saw here there with some of the worlds most amazing water craft. This is the Pebble Beach of our community. And there right in the middle of majestic varnish is a Trawler Tug from little Reedville VA. And you know what? Why not? In fact, she belongs out there for the world. Standing, floating for all the small towns and little universes in our back yards. The Shilo Boats, the smaller brands that are so small, that the term brand almost seems to large. But everything is a brand. And Rice Marine Railway was a brand. A well respected brand on the Chesapeake Bay, and get this.. It’s still is.

THE RICE MARINE RAILWAY CREW – L to R -Claude Bray (Boatress Grandfather) Sam Keeve, Raymond Bray, ( Boatress Great Uncle) Charlie Rice, Emory Rice, Wilson Bray, ( Boatress Great Uncle) Carl Rice, Leonard O’Brian, Jay Barrett, Albert Headly and in front Byron!

It’s now Jennings Boat Yard. And Larry Jennings is the nicest guy around. And worked with many of the guys that built Sweet Pea. Then named IRISH MIST. So we went over and walked around and explored with Larry’s blessings. My Son Ham is here for the week, so he was able to see where his family worked and made boats in the area.

And you guessed it. Thats the same building. This puts it all into perspective. I wish I had more images of the past. But this mash up, makes it come alive ..

Lets see around here. Thats Leadbellys and Fairport marina next door.

You can see the stack to the right of the new building

Building one, this is where Sweet Pea would have been started. Yes, this is the spot. And that is Claude’s Great Grandson, my son, Ham

Inside. Boats are designed and started here on a rail.

Some past models.. AHHH is there on of Sweet pea someplace?

More models. prototypes in our world of mass produced boats.

A new model under construction

Did this vice hug some of Sweet Peas soul.. YES! I hugged it back. Hey! Don’t judge.

Tool box from an old drawer. I like this idea

Love the textures colors and tone. The space is fine art

More Models.

Around back

The burn pile..

I asked, the dinghy belongs to someone. How cool would that have been to pick up a dighy at the same place. And then my gears started turning.. Have them build one! OH HELL YA

Building two. This one is the final area. The birthing canal so to speak. The rail used to conect the two. Very smart design

Inside Building two.

And right on onto the water

And then into the small original building. Its the office and a little parts area. With still all the bins and some old fittings.

Love this

AHHHHHH, how cool is this

These drawers and shelves were all used building Sweet Pea. Its like meeting her parents, her relatives. Her true home.

So, have I gone off the rails? Tell me how you would feel being able to tour GarWoods shop, that is still in use, with all the same stuff around. Not a museum, not a restored version of it. But it for real and in continuous use. Thats the wonderful thing about life here in Reedville. Why mess with perfect? No need to restore when its not in need. No need to change, adapt.. It works. Well. And is timeless. And that to me, is what is true, and seeing and feeling it, living it is one of the true gifts of 2020. now if you will excuse me, I need to go spray for Murder Hornets.


And no Jennings Boat Yard doesn’t have a website. Thats so 1990.. HA But they do have a Facebook page.. Thats so 2001..


21 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    There is something wonderful about true “old school” which is what that boat yard is all about. Great family history that you can be proud of!
    I love the idea of having them build the dingy for Sweet Pea.

  2. Wayne
    Wayne says:

    Nice story about Jennings and the history to your family. Did you score any memorabilia or other cool stuff from Larry.

  3. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    Yep. Old marinas with cubbys of all kinds are the best.
    We are still finding things from the early years and if you want old Johnson and Evinrude outboard parts that are still here in baby jars, well, we’ve got those too.
    Patina? Ambiance? World Peace? Yeah, same place and it doesn’t get any better.

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      Hi Bob, sorry we missed you the other day that you went to Flint. The place looks nice, Keep up the great work of preserving part of our UP North history…

  4. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    Yep. Old marinas with cubbys of all kinds are the best.
    We are still finding things from the early years and if you want old Johnson and Evinrude outboard parts that are still here in baby jars, well, we’ve got those too!

  5. Rivaguru
    Rivaguru says:

    Great story and photos!! That yard reminds me of the very first Marina that I worked at, in Connolly NY. They had built Navy Rescue boats (small versions of the PT boats) there during WW II. Most of the buildings and many of the jigs, tooling, parts and lumber piles were still intact in the early 1970’s. I learned to haul and launch boats on the railway, and to move large motors with the big gin pole. I wish I knew then what I know now!!!

    Matt, thanks for keeping history alive!!

  6. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    I would pay to take that tour of Jennings boatyard…really cool way to spend a day! and right here in ole VA!

    Got a sail rig for my walker bay dink…sailed it first time yesterday….only sailing I have ever done….neat….

    John in Va.

  7. Art
    Art says:

    I voted for Sweet Pea……………………be careful there is another CC named Sweetpea .

    Also loved your story.

      • ron yatch
        ron yatch says:

        …..well, we can’t all have a globally-read daily blog and slick web skills to promote our entry into the tahoe virtual show…

        But we still have the option to enter anyway, and thus we move our way thru the rocky road that for many of us is our ” 2020 “.

        Its all good, all hype aside !!

        Good luck to all who participate in keeping Tahoe alive !

  8. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    Cool stuff!
    That’s quite a campaign you’re running for Sweet Pea. Our presidential candidates could learn a thing or two from you about how to go about it.:)

  9. Duster
    Duster says:

    What a neat story today. You’ve got to get the guys to make you Sweetpeas dingy. That’d be very cool and like completing a circle. Sweetpeas tender.

  10. Bob Rice
    Bob Rice says:

    Fascinating and poignant post! And I am intrigued to entertain the thought that “The Boatress” and I are related from a few generations back.

  11. Jaxon
    Jaxon says:

    I voted! They only let me vote once. Nothing like Chicago. I still like it better here. Where’s my treat?🍖🍖

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