“Designed by a fish.”
That’s how the Fortier 26 was described in issue 12 of Nautical Quarterly, back in 1980.
A couple of generations of fishermen would agree.
The husky, rough-and-ready, bass-style boat made its debut in 1978 and quickly won a reputation for fishing the New England tide rips in all kinds of winds and waves. Powered by a single inboard diesel, it had a wide beam, a stable hull and a big cockpit made for fishing.
The Fortier 26 was the brainchild of Somerset, Massachusett, building contractor Roger Fortier. An active member of the New Bedford Yacht Club, he was an inveterate boater and fisherman. In the mid-1970s, he turned his talents as a builder and his passion for boats and boating into a personal project: He would build a fishing boat with his teenage son, Rob.
In 1976, Fortier launched his 26-footer, built using plans drawn up by the Boston design firm of Eldridge-McInnis. It was a winner; by 1978, the newly incorporated Fortier Boats had built and sold 11 of the boats. Fortier joined the boatbuilding history of Somerset, a town that’s been launching boats and ships for more than 300 years.
The 26-footer combined the best of the old and the new. The hull had a traditional keel and skeg, and construction included Corecell foam in the deck and bottom. Modern cabin amenities included a V-berth, a marine head, a pressure water system, an ice box and a butane stove, making the fishing boat into a family boat and overnighter. Teak rub rails and windshield trim added a vintage touch to the look. Options included soft and hard tops and a tiller with its own set of engine controls.
And they still build them today. Fortier Boats has turned out more than 500 vessels over the years, offering 26-, 30-, 33- and 40-foot semi-custom boats that are all based on Eldridge-McInnis designs.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue.