People’s Choice Masonboro Skiff by MARIMAR McNAUGHTON photography by ALLISON POTTER beachbights skiff – a small boat, traditionally coastal or river craft used for leisure or fishing with a one-person or small crew. Masonboro Skiff boatbuilder John Olsen says, “We built it cause it’s just the ideal boat for this area, sneaking behind the channels.” One morning last month, Olsen and business partner, Larry Heckner, poked out the inlet to see what the fishermen were doing. With plenty of freeboard — the height above the waterline from the sides — the flat- bottomed skiff handled the four-foot rollers and nobody got wet. The first skiff off the new line has turned heads in the water and on dry land. “People want to touch it,” Heckner says. And touch it they have as the Masonboro Skiff has made the rounds of regional wooden boat shows, it’s also racked up a few awards. At the 2012 Southport Wooden Boat Show, it picked up the People’s Choice Award and at the North Carolina Maritime Museum’s Wooden Boat Show held earlier this year in Beaufort, Masonboro Skiff picked up the Best Up-and-Coming Boatbuilder award. The Beaufort show organizers had seen the skiff at the Cape Fear Community College Wooden Boat Show in April and invited Olsen and Heckner to show their boat because it is considered a fine piece of work and so reminiscent of the traditions of North Carolina. The judges’ comments have been consistent, Heckner says. 18 WBM july 2013 “The editor of the WoodenBoat magazine came to the Georgetown (South Carolina) show and said, ‘Great design, excellent execution.’” The design execution was tweaked by Olsen, who grew up at Olsen’s Boatyard in Bayshore, Long Island. The boat was designed to be a small harbor boat, a work boat, fishing on the weekends, clamming, oystering. For the sports-man, the boat could be fitted with a tiller, a more open area for decoys and guns, or the size of the casting platform increased for fly fishermen. It’s ideal for taking the family to the beach — wife, kids and dog — load them in with a couple of coolers, an umbrella and go, Olsen says. He’s comfortable taking the boat to Buzzard Bay The Masonboro Skiff’s fishing platform is the perfect perch for the family retriever.
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