MARSHALLBERG — Down East native Zack Davis hopes his recent boatbuilding project will help keep the tradition alive in the area.
A teacher at East Carteret High School, Mr. Davis recently built a shrimping boat with some help from friends, family and students.
“It’s named the Addie and Dallas,” Mr. Davis said about the boat, which is 56 feet long and 18 feet wide. “That’s after my daughter and little boy.”
Although Mr. Davis describes the boat as mid-sized, he said he used a relatively new method of boat construction called cold molding.
“It’s really a new style,” Mr. Davis said. “Most of the time, they use that only on charter boats.”
Mr. Davis describes the cold molding method as building a temporary skeleton, in the shape of the desired hull, covering it with plywood and eventually doing the same with fiberglass, among several other key steps.
“It’s lighter weight and it’s stronger, it’s a whole lot stronger method of construction,” Mr. Davis said. “It allows you to put a lot more shape in the hull with very little effort. You can put a lot of flare in the hull, you can put a lot of curvature in the hull and you can still build it relatively easily.”
Mr. Davis said boatbuilding is in his blood.
“Me, my daddy and my brother have pretty much been the builders, my brother did a lot of the finishing work on the inside. As far as the hull construction and fiber glassing, me and (my father) did most of the work.”
He said his family played an integral part in the region’s boatbuilding scene.
It’s for this reason, he said his efforts to build his own boat is a bit of a family tradition.
“My great-granddaddy was a boatbuilder,” Mr. Davis said. “He was really one of the first founders of the boatbuilding industry in North Carolina. My daddy took over his business and kind of kept the legacy going.”
This is the first boat Mr. Davis has built. He added that his father taught him everything he knows about the craft.
“My great-granddaddy was retired and out of the business by the time I came along,” Mr. Davis said. “So, my daddy taught me everything he knew about boatbuilding. My brother built boats for a while. He worked with my daddy…he worked, basically, his whole high school and part of his college years with my daddy. So he knows a lot about boatbuilding. He helped me out a lot.”
Mr. Davis said that it took him and his team around two years to get to where they are now.
“You’ve always got to be thinking way down the road,” Mr. Davis said. “When you’re building the boat, you can’t just start putting stuff together. You have to think about when you start putting stuff here, in this location, how is it going to affect how you get to it later on? …You have to have a lot of forward thinking skills if you are the job foreman on boatbuilding.”
Mr. Davis said he didn’t hit any major roadblocks during the process, but there were some hiccups.
“There’s been some ups and downs,” he said. “There have been some tight spots to get into for fiber glassing, then we had some resin that was mixed up wrong one time and had to sand the side of the boat down to get rid of that. We had some hiccups along the way, but as far as any major setbacks, (we) just kept the ball rolling forward.”
Although the boat isn’t complete, Mr. Davis and his team are in the home stretch. They hope to be out shrimping by October.
“We’ve got about a month of finishing it out, putting rigging in and getting the wires and hydraulics worked out,” he said.
Mr. Davis noted perpetuating the art of boatbuilding was the primary objective behind the project.
“I had a lot of help from some high school students,” Mr. Davis said. “I basically employed them…outside of school full time.”
Mr. Davis said he hopes that efforts to build commercial fishing boats will ultimately help the industry.
“We still have a fishing industry, a commercial industry that is strong, valuable and important to eastern North Carolina,” Mr. Davis said. “This is a $250,000 boat that we’ve got invested in our economy in eastern North Carolina. I have not outsourced one thing out of the country. The propeller was made in the county (and) everything else, as far as I know, came from in the state. All eastern North Carolina companies is where we bought our stuff from. It’s real important the public understand that our fishing industry is important and we’re not a dying industry.”
Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.