22′ Center Console Float Test

22′ Center Console Float Test

We launched the 22′ Center Console boat a couple of weeks ago for a float test, to reassure the decisions on the self-baling deck and to see how she sat in the water before she’s loaded. I’m very happy with the way she sits; she looks like she’ll be a good sea boat. Here are a few pics. Stay tuned…

Sunnyside to Hopetown: Delivering a 28′ Custom Center Console to the Bahamas

Sunnyside to Hopetown: Delivering a 28′ Custom Center Console to the Bahamas

It is a very rare thing to have the privilege of taking a boat from a design on paper through a top-end custom build and on to its final destination.

I was lucky enough to build a high-end center console Carolina sportfishing boat for a friend who basically gave me carte blanche on the decision making.

I had already built the hull, a 28′, when my friend and his wife decided they wanted to buy it to keep in Hopetown in Abaco, Bahamas. It turned out that the owner wanted all the teak that a boat can have except for the toe rail. This was fine with me because I really enjoy putting the icing on the cake, as it were. The boat was also fit with a tower or upper steering station, which is great for seeing fish or coral heads in the islands.

“Harvest” in the Harrison Boatworks shop at Sunnyside on Roanoke Island.

This Harrison Boatworks 28′ center console is outfitted with all the options, including all possible teak (except toe rail) and an upper steering station

I finished the boat a year and a half ago and my mechanical engineer and partner, Bob Vlcek, and I were able to take the boat to three boat shows before the owner took delivery. The boat was well received at the shows. Many people commented that it was the prettiest boat they had seen at the show, which  made me feel good, of course.

I actually kept the boat for a while. The owner was trying to finalize some plans in Hopetown and only came to the Outer Banks occasionally to use it. But after plenty of exposure and many sea trials and fishing trips with family and friends, it was finally time to let her go.

Bob and I made a plan with the owner to deliver this 28′, which the owners had named “Harvest,” from Roanoke Island to Hopetown over Thanksgiving week of 2011. The plan was to trailer it to West Palm Beach, meet the owner in West Palm Beach and then run her over to the Bahamas.

Sounds simple and straight-forward, right? Well… There were quite a few logistics involved. Number one concern was hauling a 28′ boat at 70 mph down I-95 in a half-ton Chevy with 235,000 miles on it. But the biggest factor of all to worry about was the weather. When we got to West Palm Beach, we learned that no one had made the crossing to the Bahamas in five weeks because of prevailing NE winds. All we could do was hope for the best and pray that we wouldn’t be holed up in a hotel room for days or weeks waiting for the weather window.

Luckily, it turned out that the weather broke the day after we arrived. We hit a West Marine for a late-night shopping spree and made plans for the departure the next morning. Of course there is always a passport issue, and we had to wait for Bob’s passport to be expedited straight to West Palm Beach. We had to sit around and wait until 9:30 a.m. for the delivery, which really got the nerves going — as if a 192-mile passage wasn’t enough to think about.

Harrison Boatworks 28′ Center Console at the docks in West Palm Beach

I was concerned about all kinds of mechanical failures, engines, batteries, electronics, etc. Every bad scenario had been racing through my head for weeks. Deep down I knew it would be OK, but I just wanted to be super-prepared for this ocean crossing.

After we received the passport we were on our way, past the Sailfish Marina and all the legendary Merritts and Ryboviches, to Lake Worth Inlet. We were met with immediate swells and spray, which took a while to get used to. It was about 3 to 4 feet with a southeast chop. Not bad conditions but not great. Everything went well and I was relieved when we passed the mid-way point, which was about 27 miles from West End, Bahamas. We were making about 17 or 18 knots so we made it to West End in about 3.5 to 4 hours.

As we entered the Little Bahama Bank, sea conditions flattened out and we were able to comfortably cruise at 28 or 29 knots, while sitting or walking around the boat in comfort. Three or four hours later we made it Spanish Cay. We cruised on to Green Turtle and made it there just at sunset. We pulled up to the dock and got a couple of rooms for the night. We could finally relax. Dinner was very good and there was a band and a considerable amount of people for this place. About half were other cruisers in the little harbor.

Taking on fuel at Green Turtle Cay.

Captain Bob Vlcek at the docks after a successful crossing.

The next morning we had a leisurely, huge breakfast, took on some fuel and were on our way. Unfortunately for us, the wind had gone back to the north and made the remaining four hours fairly rough. With 6-foot seas that were coming from every direction, we really put that boat to the test. I was very happy to experience how she took the nasty conditions. When taking waves from multiple directions, the full transom gave a real sense of security. Although our cruise speed was reduced quite a bit, we were still able to move safely ahead, making good progress.

Soon we could see Man Of War Cay and then Elbow Cay and Hopetown. A huge relief and a great delivery.

We hauled the boat out and blocked her up in the yard at Lighthouse Marina in Hopetown.

That evening we were eating Thanksgiving dinner with the owners and their family. I realized what a joy and a privilege it was to bring this vessel to life and to be able to put her to the test on a delivery to such a beautiful place.

Hauling out at Lighthouse Marina, where “Harvest” will reside.

Looks like the forks are barely long enough.

Washed down and blocked up.

Covered up and cinched down. Journey complete.

The 22′: An Affordable Custom Built Center Console

The 22′: An Affordable Custom Built Center Console

About two years ago, I received a phone call from Andrew Hampson to discuss the prospects of building one of the tunnel skiffs that he had seen on my website. After getting to know his needs and requirements over the course of a half-dozen 30-minute phone conversations, we discovered that he needed a different boat. He wanted a boat that could also go well outside of Masonboro Inlet in the ocean safely carrying at least five adults and handle the adverse sea conditions. He also wanted to get up into the shoaly backwaters and grass flats to target drum, speckled trout, flounder, etc.

This is how it is in custom boat building. Sometimes what a customer wants evolves into a totally different boat once their needs are all hashed out. A particular design only comes about after personally getting to know a customer and what he or she wants out of this relationship that we’re entering. The precise compromise that is every boat can only be narrowed down after getting to know somebody. This is why I love my job.

I then designed a 22′ center console just for Andrew’s needs.

The 22′ had been on my mind before this. After taking my 28′ center console on the road to different shows, it seemed there were a lot of people who were interested in a bare-bones center console fishing boat with the classic Carolina styling of the 28′, just scaled down and made less expensive with less horsepower, less teak and less bells and whistles. I have tried to answer those people’s wishes as well as Andrew’s with this new 22′ design, which will be comparable in price to some 22′ production boats.

The running bottom of the 22′ is a design that falls in between the 17.5′ flats skiff and the 28′ center console offshore model. It begins with a moderate 7-degree deadrise at the transom and progress to around 35-degrees at the entry. This progressive deadrise bottom has been proven in both large and small boats to be a very efficient and seaworthy running bottom, while maintaining a stable fishing platform while not on a plane. The combination of this bottom with the aggressive sprayrail translates into a drier ride that planes easily and requires less fuel than many of the deep-V deadrise boats on the market. Those deep-V boats that have flooded the market take three times as long to get on a plane, use far more fuel when running, and are not near as stable or comfortable while fishing.

Here are some photographs taken at Harrison Boatworks’ shop on Roanoke Island of the process of building this 22′, from the design to the production of the jig to the assembly of the longitudinals (i.e., stem and keel, battens, chine log and sheer clamp) and connection the transom and beyond. There are pictures in here of the “whiskey plank,” which is the last and usually the smallest plank affixed to the hull. There is usually but not always a toast given by the builder and a few drinks taken by the witnesses that are present. The toast is one that wishes the new owner good luck and a long life for his boat.

I will be posting more photos as I progress.


Click on any image to start the slide show.

Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to the new website for Harrison Boatworks.

Juniper Dust is intended to chronicle the different projects at Harrison Boatworks and to share my thoughts and opinions about what’s going on in the boat-building world.

Some blogs will be about new construction and new designs at Harrison Boatworks; others will be about refits and repainting and woodworking-related projects.

One of the things I love about my job is the diversity. It’s what keeps things interesting for me. I’m just as interested in the simplest 14’ pirogue as I am a 55’ world-cruising catamaran. I want to build paddleboards and I want to build yachts and everything in between. I want to showcase exotic and domestic species of wood in ways that they haven’t been seen before. I want to share my opinions about maritime design, hydrodynamics and aesthetics in the boat-building industry. I want to address some of the common problems that ill-running boats possess and to praise some of the boat designs that I admire. I want to share my enthusiasm for boat-building and woodworking, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading.

If you want to be notified when there’s a new blog entry, LIKE Harrison Boatworks on Facebook.

Patrick Harrison
Harrison Boatworks, LLC
Sunnyside Boatshop
Roanoke Island, NC