A good boat is one that gets used, and the best boat gets used by the whole family. It doesn’t matter what kind of boat it is or what size; if it’s not at the dock, it’s doing what a boat should do–getting people out on the water.
Scott Arnette’s 18-foot Maritime Skiff is a case in point. Arnette and his wife, Trude, have owned the boat for more than a decade. In that time, they’ve enjoyed the waters around New Jersey’s Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and watched their four kids (now between 25 and 27 years old) develop their own love of boating.
“The kids have grown up on the water, driving boats,” says Scott, a 58-year-old trial attorney in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. “They’re on the boat with friends socializing, wake boarding, fishing, crabbing or just goofing off. And we’ve enjoyed the pictures of the kids using the boat that have gone up on Instagram for years.”
Arnette got an early start in boating, too. He grew up with row boats and small sailboats, including a Hobie Cat. “I just liked being out on the water, whether it was lakes in Ohio or the ocean or bays in Massachusetts and New Jersey,” he says.
His first family boat was a 1979 Boston Whaler Montauk, which Arnette eventually brought to his family home on Lake Ontario. That boat set the stage for the bigger, roomier Maritime Skiff, which seemed well-suited for his growing family.
The 2002 Maritime Skiff and its 80-hp outboard and trailer cost about $10,000 when Arnette purchased the boat in 2007. “She was in good shape, and she was rigged for fishing offshore with an AM/FM radio and long antenna, which we had little use for. We replaced it with a stereo.”
Arnette was familiar with this particular Maritime Skiff, having driven by it many times. While living in Sea Bright, New Jersey, he would see the skiff in front of Sandy Hook Yacht Sales. “It kept catching my eye,” Arnette says. “It had nice lines, it was the right size, it was a center console and it was a dry boat, which appealed to Trude.” Broker Bill Bergin completed the deal. “He was fantastic. I would recommend him to anyone,” Arnette says.
There was a lot for the couple and their kids to like about the Maritime Skiff, including the foredeck with anchor locker and stowage, which provided seating and a casting platform. They also liked the boat’s light weight, which allows it to be powered with a smaller engine, and the self-bailing cockpit, an important feature for a boat kept at a floating dock at the end of a 500-foot pier. “There’s plenty of space to get all six of us on it, and it’s a manageable, responsive boat,” Arnette says.
A 2002, 80-hp Yamaha 4-stroke powers the 18-footer, and, “She really gets going, planing out quickly,” Arnette says. “I go slow with company on board so we can enjoy the natural beauty and just being on the water. But I can get it going 26 knots. If I play with the engine trim, I can squeeze a little more.” A 10-gallon fuel tank is located underneath the front seat.
The boat and engine require little maintenance, and Arnette takes care of some of it himself. “I do some trouble shooting if a bulb goes out or some other little item. Otherwise, I call Charlie Parker with Sandy Hook Yacht Management, who winterizes her and looks after things as needed, which is rarely.”
The family lives within a tidal estuary along the northern New Jersey coast, where rivers, bays and creeks abound. It’s the ideal cruising ground for the shallow-draft skiff. “The Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers run out into Sandy Hook Bay, down from the New York Bight,” says Arnette. “We cruise the rivers and out into the bay; there’s a couple of dock-and-dines we go to.” The boat’s 9-inch draft is a plus in the local tidal waters, Arnette says. “With the engine up, we can pull the boat onto a beach or sand bar.”
Now that their children have moved out, Arnette and his wife enjoy hosting friends aboard and going for cocktail cruises. No, the kids don’t own boats yet, says Arnette. But when two of them made a visit over the summer, the first thing they did was go out on the skiff.
An evening on the water might include snacks, sunsets, lobster and wine on the boat or at a dock-and-dine on the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers or up in Sandy Hook Bay. “There are lots of places to go, so you can have fun exploring the river,” says Arnette. “And if you bring a crab net, you might catch some dinner, too.”
The 18-foot Maritime Skiff has clean lines and an open interior with plenty of floor space for fishing, socializing or stowing watersports gear. Its lightweight hull can be powered by a relatively small outboard. This all-fiberglass boat is constructed using vacuum-bag technology, with closed-cell foam incorporated for “unsinkable” flotation. The skiff’s molded center console helm station puts a destroyer wheel and instrument panel behind a sturdy windscreen, framed with stainless-steel hand holds. There is a cushioned leaning post with room for two and storage space underneath. Forward of the console, there’s another cushioned seat with a cooler/storage below. At the bow, a raised platform houses an anchor locker while simultaneously serving as handy extra seating or a casting station. The single outboard rests on a high-density, cored transom.
In 1992, Paul Hureau and his wife, Bev Brown, started building an 18-foot center console with a rounded bow, wide chines and a variable deadrise hull. The Maritime Skiff 18 was the first of a fleet of popular small, fuel-efficient, foam-filled center console boats powered by small or midsize outboards. Today, Maritime Skiffs are built in New Hampshire by Chislett’s Boating and Design.
This article was originally published in the October 2020 issue.