Phase 2 – The Double Secret Project – A New Global Headquarters

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The Dock ahead!

Over the past 6 months we have been slowly in the process of is the biggest move in Woody Boater history. Way beyond another boat, new server, new camera, a new true permanent global headquarters. Is it scary? HELL YA! But then again, what is life about anyway? NEW ADVENTURES and always putting yourself out there in new ways. And in this case. old ways. in a new way.

The Railway here in Reedville VA

Today we can announce we have made the final hurdle and are buying the Reedville Marine Railway here in Reedville VA. In one family since 1906 and in business since the late 1800’s We are talking about an about an acre of waterfront land that is frozen in timeless perfection.

The home of Butler Built boats. Countless boats have been built here for over a Century. Amazing boats

Like a barn find of a barn, and workshops. And best yet, owned by one of the nicest families on the planet. The Butlers have kept the Railway going for over a century in the best way possible. Timeless standards of quality and humanity. You can feel the care, in every scrap of wood. That we have been selecting through for months.

Its a landmark here, and it needed to stay that way. No Condos, no anything, but what it was made into by mankind close to 150 years ago.

This is a wonderful joy for me personally and I will be able to work from there more and not have to travel so much. And not have to work from my family room. And be able to combine my two passions. The Creative business of marketing, and the history of classic boating, and a wonderful community now both physical and virtual.

This is what heaven looks like by the way. Just sayn

Over the next couple months we will be sharing the adventure of discovery, and expansion of WoodyBoater to a network of other physical WoodyBoater network locations as mentioned yesterday in phase 1.

All the original tools are here Some were driven by steam at the start and converted to electric power. BTW, this saw is amazing!

George and I have been cleaning up slowly to make sure nothing important is lost. Like frame templates and valuable parts. If you had a boat built here in the 1950’s chances are we found your skill template. All boats were built by experience and eye.

So today, we start the adventure together. Stay tuned for it all. What could possibly go wrong? And yet so perfectly right!

The original first building was a blacksmith shop. And home to a Riviera for years. This is the building that will be our offical office now. 

Cleaning up. Old fuel tanks, and boat parts.

Chris Craft removed to work on the small building

Looking for a project?

She is outside now. Has many new frames. But thats about it. makes a nice sign. No hardware, no engine. Nuthin but a beautiful shape.

You can imagine the agony of doing this removal of the Riviera which could have been a great one day story. But did not want to announce to early. So you got this.

Didnt notice the background did ya?

Or this background. It’s been part of our stories already

This was back in October Taking your boat to work is a lifelong dream

We have documented the journey so stay tuned for phase 3! Yes there is more!

If you want to read more about the Railway, Here is a wonderful story we did years ago on it all. This is the place Sweet Pea is worked on.

51 replies
  1. Mike K
    Mike K says:

    Nice move matt
    I did wonder about the red building

    If I was closer I would be installing the fire alarm for you
    I think you need one

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    thanks Mike. Its been one heck of an adventure. I am thrilled to be able to share with all of you now. Phase 3 tomorrow is the most fun part for sure!

  3. Matt
    Matt says:

    Ya think? I need to get water to the building first. No water. We turn the power off every night. But yes, sprinklers, and a vacume system. But needs to look the time period. All coming. The first project is taking a HUGE OAK tree down. Been dead way to long. then the area around the railway is going to be cleaned up and a purvious concrete layer. Burry the overhead power lines and then Running water. When I say little has changed in 100 years, I wasnt kidding. AND I LOVE IT. half the fun is installing the stuff in a stelth way to protect her history and time capsule feel. Imagine Zipper detail on a massive scale.

    • KW
      KW says:

      Im glad you are talking about fire; who ever you hire you gotta teach them that no rags can be tossed out except out side in dumpster and keep dumpster away from building. ps how about a historical marker.

  4. Darthtrader
    Darthtrader says:

    Now the fun begins. During the cleanup, the question becomes how much to remove and rejuvenate without erasing the historical patina. In the end, who will form the customer base?

  5. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Damn, I sleep in till 6:30 one morning and you make the big announcement. Congratulations, that is great. Some day a few of us from the Michigan gang may have to come visit and check that place out. We know and appreciate great marine history.

  6. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    This is getting interesting. Snd in terms of making decisions about patina, what to keep and what not to keep, I’m sure Matt will make all the right decisions.

  7. Frank@Falmouth
    Frank@Falmouth says:

    WOW !!! THAT IS SO COOL!!!!
    At the last Reedville show I walked down to the shop, talked to George and just was in awe of the SMELL and Feel of that old boat shop!!. The piles of wood and sawdust were just intoxicating and I just wanted to sit there an take it all in… And that saw! It was thei first thing I thought about when I started reading this story… While its a shame that Georges shop wont be there, (OSHA and other regulations put that in motion years ago) that you will be preserving the SPIRIT and history of the family hallmark Boat Yard is just great. I cant think of a better steward of that legacy landmark and know you will do the history and tradition of that space well. Thank you Matt!
    I have to admit I was noticing the frequent background shots but just figured you were down there doing something on a new boat, not acquiring the SHOP! Good on yah Matt and I look forward to visiting and seeing what youve done. PS I have a 20′ Riviera thats in MUCH better condition , but still needs to be redone, I had talked to George about it when I last visited.. I would have been sick if it had been sold and converted to townhouses or condos.. Reedville is such a great little town, too bad I missed out on pre-Pandemic real estate!

    WOW All I can say is WOW!

  8. Jon
    Jon says:

    So, what is happening to the function of the yard. Will they continue to work on boats under your ownership, or is this the end of that era?

  9. Steve Anderson from Michigan
    Steve Anderson from Michigan says:

    That place looks awesome! It would take years for me to clean out as I make up a backstory for every piece I touched.

    Tell me more about the pervious layer you speak of? I thought that was how you describe Troy…

  10. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    OMG Matt!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!
    You convinced Suzy like I convinced Patti to let you buy a historic marina to save a slice of history!!!!
    We need to write a book to prove men can still be very persuasive and so passionate that women will still allow us to do stupid things!!!!
    Thus far, Patti hasn’t shot me where I stand (close, but not yet), so we better hurry……….!
    Congratulations brother!!!!!
    p.s. I still have a printed copy of one of the daily Woodyboaters where you expounded on the importance of saving local marinas.
    It came in handy during my spousal negotiations and now you’re living it too!!!

    • matt
      matt says:

      Thanks , all to give some perspective. This place to us here in Reedville, heck, the entire Chesapeake Bay was a boat yard building boats at the same time Christopher Smith and gar Wood started. And this is still here as original. My head explodes when I think of it all. And each flake of sawdust.. 5 trailers full to the dump, are sifted through. NOT KIDDING! I am treating the place and its soul with that importance. AND LOVING EVERY SPLINTER! George laughs at me that now he has to wipe his feet when he comes in. We are sifting through old photos and such. AND YES, the railway works and is here. Run by some old vintage truck transmission. And yes those empty docks are some kinda empty!

  11. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Great new adventure with lots of options for fun. So you can boat to work now? how far from your home? Market next door with carry out and beer? Possible club house with projects and a bar?

  12. Mike D
    Mike D says:

    Okay, that does it. I’m going to have to leave Woody Boater. Your energy and creativity humble me. I thought I was the energy bunny but you make me look like the road kill I passed on the highway yesterday. Great job Matt, I’m looking forward to many great stories.

    Oh, and I’m glad to see that you have decided not to listen to auto correct.

  13. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    Looks like a great place for a small sound stage! If you only knew of someone in advertising who needs to shoot some commercials you would be all set. (wink wink)

  14. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P)
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P) says:

    Congratulations Matt, Looks like a fun project. I agree with steve, A woody boater bar that we could all stoop by at. Good luck.

  15. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Congratulations, Matt! This is amazing & far beyond what I expected from “the super secret project”! I’ll 2nd KW’s suggestion of an historic marker & the boat show idea some have put forth. Will the railway continue to work on people’s boats? Or is that to be your personal toy now?

  16. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Well, I sort of knew this was coming and it is fabulous!
    Great place, great tradition, great family and friends.

    Go for it….Go Boating!

    John in Va.

  17. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    And what a dream come true. I’m green with envy. Great place for cruise in and grill. When does the Dockside Bar open?

  18. Florida Kid
    Florida Kid says:

    Thanks Matt for the update; wow good stuff and exciting. We are just stewards of all this stuff; care takers for the next generation. Looking forward to seeing you fix things up and host a boat show.

  19. Frank@Falmouth
    Frank@Falmouth says:

    Im guessing a WoodyBoat Brokerage.. maybe a Sierra Boat /Katz Chesapeake ? Classic wood boat Marina (pontoon boats prohibited) Period correct everything…Old gas pumps, marina signs, etc a great addition to Reedville !
    Youre gonna miss looking out your window at home and not seeing Sweet Pea, as it begs to be at the dock here.. and think of all the dock space you’ll have to have more boats!

  20. Duster
    Duster says:

    Matt that’s is brilliant!! Make sure to get a fan blasting out asbestos onto passers by. Wow very cool new step in the WB life. Remote working is now going to truly be a good thing. Congratulations mate.

  21. briant
    briant says:

    Yeah yeah nothing stays the same, progress bla bla, and it is great that this location will be in the trusted hands of the Boatress and Matt….one has to wonder why the Butlers decided to not continue something going since 1906? No children or the bratty kids wanted nothing to do with the place? Not a viable business anymore?

    While it is great to see the torch being passed, I often wonder what the story is behind the ones doing the passing….

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      I asked them several, many times. his Son lives next door and is a great guy. The truth is I am sure that building small wood boats with all the gov stuff makes it hard. my use of it does not depend on it being a work shop. Its a personal space, and passion to keep a place like this alive and have purpose in some way. making the smaller building into a work office thing is a way to keep the history alive. Wait til you all see that. Its a mind blower. Belt driven shafts still in the ceiling and aint going anywere. Old photos and its history will be alive. And in many cases still used. Think Colonial Williamsburg. I strongly believe that old tools, and old ways of doing things are a critical part of living a history instead of passivly looking at it. But I digress into Phase 3.. Stay tuned..

  22. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Congratulations! The one question I have is: Will this still be an operational boat yard/repair facility? Not that I am a potential customer, being from the other coast, but we lost Jensen Motor Boat Company, one of the most historic, essential yards in Seattle a couple years ago. Besides the legacy of Jensen, it was one of the few truly competent wooden boat repair resources in the area – now lost forever.

    I’m very interested to see your plans evolve as you embark on this new phase!

  23. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    Ok, that’s a better story line than “The Sixth Sense”!! No way we saw that coming.
    Congrats and best of luck.

  24. Wiseboater
    Wiseboater says:

    Wow!! What an amazing evolution and assimilation of work, life and passion. So excited to see the transformation of this new old space, Woody Boater and Matt Smith! Life is limitless if allow it to be…

    • matt
      matt says:

      Hi Mike, I am not sure, I know its the “go to tool” in the shop, and is amazing, it adjusts and such, VERY VERY old. We smear authritus medicine on it daily! HA

  25. Wudzgud
    Wudzgud says:

    Congratulations Matt! This is great news. I know how you feel about preserving the past. I purchased a almost 100 year old lumber yard. I have a lot of old pictures and postcards. Everyday I go to work it takes me back to a simpler time. I live right down the street so I am able to walk to work. I built my home out of the yard got to know the owner well. Asked him one day- ever think about selling? I owned it a month later. Enjoy every minute of it we only live once and you have to seize every opportunity.

  26. William Adrian
    William Adrian says:

    Oh Lordy!! 🙂 I know how it feels to buy an 100+ year old place and restore the mains the next years. You know what, it feels you become a King in your back yard. Yes. we’re still busy with it, but my wife’s business is ongoing for 5 years in a row now! (Always keep the wife happy first, so i started with the kitchen….) Persistence, Faith and Outlook that’s what it needs. High’s and Low’s will come, but it’s worth it every penny. Good luck, William Adrian in Georgia

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