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When Carter Richardson founded East Passage Boatwrights in Bristol, Rhode Island, in 2006, his vision was to create a place where owners could bring their traditional wooden watercraft for a dose of tender-loving care. Since then, the company has built a reputation as an outfit that can maintain, refit or rebuild virtually any kind of wooden boat on the water.

But almost four years ago, Richardson had a new vision for the company. “I was out on the water with Woody Metzger from First Light Boatworks sailing in the
Nantucket Opera House Cup Regatta when we got to talking about center-console-style wooden launches,” Richardson says. “I’d had the idea of building a boat under the business name for a while, but Woody kind of gave me the kick I needed to get the project rolling.”

The East Passage 24 backbone and framework were built on CNC-cut molds.

The East Passage 24 backbone and framework were built on CNC-cut molds.

Soon after, Richardson spoke with friend Evelyn Ansel, who works at the Herreshoff Marine Museum, about his plan. “I was spit-balling ideas with Evelyn in the shop and asked her if she thought her father would be interested in designing the new boat,” Richardson says. “She said yes, so the next day I called her father, Walt Ansel, who has 30 years of experience as a shipwright. He was onboard immediately. That’s how it all started.”

Within weeks, Walt delivered renderings and Rhino CAD plans for a 24-foot wooden launch—the East Passage 24 (EP 24)—the lines for which are inspired by Herreshoff motor launches, Jonesport lobster boats and the designs of William and John Atkin and Weston Farmer. “I immediately said, ‘Yes, that’s it, that’s the boat,’” Richardson recalls. “We started building her back in October 2019.”

Richardson chose the 2021 Newport International Boat Show as venue to debut the EP 24, where she garnered plenty of attention from show-goers. It’s easy to see why. The EP 24 is gorgeous in every way, from her graceful sheer and tumblehome to the thoughtfully flared bow and strategic application of teak trim throughout. Fit and finish is extraordinary. Though the EP 24 can be ordered in any color combination the owner desires, the white topsides, buff decks, weathered bronze deck hardware and unfinished teak trim give Hull No. 1 a distinctively salty look.

The EP 24’s interior layout is simple, laid out around a beefy, teak-trimmed center console with a forward U-shaped lounge and console seat as well as a nearly full-width bench in the aft cockpit. Richardson expects future customers will want more interior options, including a small cuddy. “These boats will be built on a semi-custom basis that allows our customers to modify certain design aspects to suit their needs,” he says.

The boat was built using CNC-cut molds to shape and place the steam-bent, white-oak frames, keel, stem and transom. The hull is double-planked with an inside layer of Atlantic white cedar and finished off with a course of mahogany planks that are glued to the cedar with West System G/flex epoxy. Decks are marine-grade plywood sealed in epoxy and covered with fiberglass cloth for strength and durability.

 East Passage Boatwrights’ founder Carter Richardson is all smiles about his company’s first keel-up build. 

 East Passage Boatwrights’ founder Carter Richardson is all smiles about his company’s first keel-up build. 

“Our goal was to build a wooden boat that requires less annual maintenance,” Richardson explains. “So, this method made sense. The way we adhered the outer layer with epoxy means less movement and fewer cracks in the paint that need touching up each year.” Richardson sounds confident that the EP 24 can go two or more years without the annual touchup paintwork many wooden boats require. The teak trim was left unfinished to further shorten the list of annual maintenance items.

Inside the hull is a 150-hp Yanmar diesel mated to a 16-inch diameter, 14-inch pitch, three-bladed bronze propeller. Richardson had hoped for a near-20-knot top-end and 15-knot cruise. “Our first sea trials smashed through the upper end of those speed goals,” he says. “We hit 24 knots at 3700 rpm and cruised around 15 knots at 2800 rpm. We don’t expect people to speed around at top speed, but it’s nice to have that extra speed when you need to get back to port in a hurry. The boat is so smooth and stable—we couldn’t be happier.”

If the crowds she drew at the Newport show are any gauge, Richardson will have his hands full at the shop with orders. 

Specifications

LOA: 24’0”
Beam: 8’0”
Draft: 2’6”
Displ.: 4,400 lbs.
Fuel: 42 gals.
Power: (1) 150-hp Yanmar turbo diesel
Price: $295,000

This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.

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