The Tiffany Yacht's Fire. More Damaged Than Just Buildings.

I am not sure why a boat yard in flames would bring tears to my eyes.. It’s just buildings and boats after all, and no one was hurt, so why the sorrow? I was up most of the night stuck up here in Washington DC trying to not run down to the Northern Neck and help. But I would just be in the way and just one more person making things complicated. The Cockrell family is huge and very well loved in the area. Support will be of no short supply…That is the way of the world in The Northern Neck… There will be truck loads of Cakes and Casseroles for sure…

A Magnificent Deadrise built recently by Tiffany yachts.. This is an amazing boat

To many of the Classic Speed Boat readers here who live in places like Ceder Rapids, San Fransisco… Australia, you may wonder why I am even reporting on this, other than a personal one.. Imagine being able to sit down with 3 of the 4 generations of the Christopher Smith of Chris Craft family every Saturday and just shoot the crap – have a cup of joe and just laugh about the week past or the business of boat making. Imagine being able to do that in the very same buildings that have been around for years. …. this has been the way of life for boat lovers in the Northern Neck of Virginia. It was not uncommon to be hang’n out talking to Tiffany and his sons and grand sons and have 3 other guys in there. Only to find out later that one of them was a fancy muckety muck and the other a retired boat salesman, or fighter pilot in WWII… But in that moment.. all boaters talking about stuff. Just dumb stuff…. Magic moments I treasure that take me away from billable hours and cash flow issues…. When I read about the history of Chris Craft, and for that matter any one of the boat companies it’s not just in the books to me. I feel it, and in a strange way understand it because of my time at Tiffany’s… I am not old enough to have been lucky enough to grow up during the golden days of boat building, or live in Algonoc. To feel the reality of the moment un romanticised by clowns like me.. To feel the reality of saw dust and the commerce of building wood boats…

Were your hands and eyes and craftsmanship are critical to building a craft… But when I am at Tiffany’s you can bask in it. So I understood, not just how my boat was made, not just what materials, but the spirit it embodies. This all sounds very selfish of me…I did not go there for that reason… I went for the friendship, it was just a surprising by product of that time spent…. I am sad beyond words for The family that makes up Tiffany Yachts, yes even Reptile….

The Last One?
I was lucky enough to have the last small Skiff that Tiffany built, known as a Skiffany… OK to be honest, Tiffany and Lou built it for my wife.. She is cute and well… Anyway, they spent years building it, one day at a time. That was great for me, I secretly had a good reason to be there, having the boat built faster would only hasten my time that I would have to come up with other reasons to be there. After the boat was finished I was shocked to see another start in its place…and another “last one” I had been told mine was “the last one” The running joke is that there are about 10 last ones out there. In fact these Skiffany’s which are small 17-20 foot skiffs were a diversion from there yacht pleasure boat business, so you can see the conversation… “Ugh,,, OK , but this is the last one”…. I was struck by this last night, that there is never going to be a last one. It’s a way of life there in Burgess VA, this company, this family will keep building, and keep cranking out masterpieces of wood craft that make the area proud. Buildings have burned down for centuries in the boat building business, but it’s the craftsmanship, and family that endure…now if you will excuse me I have a cake in the oven….. you can read more about Tiffany Yachts history here.

1 reply
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    WoodyBoater I feel ya. My condolences to the Tiffany family and all that encompasses. One of the sources of pleasure that I get from my boats is the feeling of home.
    The boats I grew up with. The place I used them and the boats that were locally built.
    Although I do not own a Hutchinson it was sad when they stopped making boats. So keep you skiff in good shape and it could end up being the last one.

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