Fish Love My Boat, By H. Percival Johnson

Dave first contacted me by e-mail two years ago with some questions about restoring his 1955 Chris Craft Sea Skiff. Gradually we became e-mail friends; I took pleasure in following the progress of his work. He was able to make it to our show last year, on Sunday, and toured the St. Michaels area with a shake down cruise. To my surprise he kept the boat in the water near Fenwick outside of Ocean city, Md., and used it for fishing. Imagine, all those hours and varnish and he’s actually going fishing! He sent pictures of big ones coming in over the side. Late in the season he revealed an embarrassing problem. If a fiberglass boat was fishing nearby, they would notice that he was catching more fish than they were.Again and again he would be approached about what his secret was, and he could not explain. Yet, fish would be around his boat and not around the other ones, – every weekend. He took to finding lonely areas before getting out the rods.
What makes his boat different? Well, it’s wood, and that is probably more harmonious with water than fiberglass. It’s also lapstrake, and it has an old time shape underneath. Are fish nostalgic? They only see the boat from the bottom. Do they like seeing the shape? Is there some kind of harmonic or sensory attraction to the wood? What kind of bottom paint is that? Fish oil base? – No. Well what about the lapstrake hull?They make all kinds of trickling and brunch sounds other boats don’t have. If you ever spend time on one, the sounds are very nice. The laps chop each wave with several edges with every movement of the boat. Then little bubbles roll all along the laps and pop out somewhere else making for constant music that no other hulls have! The fish love it! They come for the clinker hull music. Dave said once a fish just jumped into the boat all by itself.
Classic wooden lapstrake boats may be the secret to rewarding fishing trips, but since overfishing is such a world problem, – please keep this to yourself!

Dave offered to bring the boat to our show this year but I told him I didn’t think we wanted all those fish around our classic boats!See the Antique and Classic Boat Show, June 19 – 21, at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, in St Michaels, Md.

5 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Wow!!! Very cool story and boat. Enchanted fish, I like that theory. Fish with good taste (in more ways than one).

    Hey, good grammer??? No mis-spelled words??? What’s with that??? Impressive!!!


  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    Would fish also like my sportsman? I promised Tom I wouldn’t fish with it when he was done restoring it but for a big bass I’ld be willing to renege on it. Some scales against the varnish might actually look cool.

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Thankyou for the tribute to the lapstrake hull. As a Lyman owner it warms my heart. It was nice of Chris Craft to see the Lyman’s worth and have a foray into that segment of the pleasure craft market with the Sea Skiff. They even tried to keep the stem plumb. Plus the fishing story is great because I believe it.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Sorry to tell you this, Rick, but I think the Sportsman
    will not be as productive a fish raiser as a Sea Skiff.
    For one think, it is a hard chine boat; for another,
    not a lapstrake, and the Sea Skiff has a nice rocker
    that I think accounts for part of the way it moves
    through the water.


  5. red dog
    red dog says:

    is that mr. limpet comin overboard in the last picture…. limpet asks ” i m lookin for george stickell” the crewman asks ” pickle” limpet responds ” no stickell , george stickell “

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