Martinique Express Matthews 42

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Illustration by Jim Ewing

Illustration by Jim Ewing

The Matthews Boat Company was founded in Bascom, Ohio, in 1890 and then relocated to Port Clinton, Ohio, in 1906—after Scott J. Matthews and his family returned from a 9,000-mile Great Loop cruise aboard a 74-foot, double-ended cruiser he built. The Matthews Company built wooden powerboats for 60 years before introducing its first 42-foot “stock” boat, which had one common hull offered as a Sport Fisherman, a Deluxe Sedan, a Convertible Sedan or a Fly Bridge Double Cabin. In 1956, Matthews introduced the Martinique Express as the fifth variation, of which only seven were built.

The 42-foot stock hull is distinctive. Forward, there is a near-vertical stem plunging down to a deep forefoot below the waterline. Topsides are high, with modestly flared bow sections that transition gently to a tumblehome. The keel develops early near the turn of the stem and runs nearly the full length of the bottom, finishing in a protective shoe for the running gear. Overall, the bottom shape has nicely rounded bilges with a flat run aft.

Construction was typically rot-resistant red Honduran mahogany planking over steam-bent oak internal frames. Most exterior surfaces were finished in a glossy white paint, but the clear-finished transom, coaming boards and helm called attention to the fine craftsmanship throughout.

The Martinique’s cockpit had high coamings and room for a pair of fishing chairs. There was a slight step up to the covered bridgedeck, where two bench seats were forward. Below were sleeping accommodations for five people, a convertible dinette and a galley.

Gas or diesel engines were available in single or twin installations. A single 130-hp Chrysler Crown Special was the standard power offering, with top speeds in the 10- to 12-knot range.

Three other single-engine options were available, as well as six twin-engine configurations. Top speed advertised was 23 knots, very likely with a pair of optional 200-hp Chrysler V-8 Imperial 331-cubic-inch-displacement gas engines.

The Matthews Company ceased building boats in the early 1970s, while striving to master the vagaries of early fiberglass technologies. Today, the company’s earlier boats continue to stir the imaginations of owners who prize the beauty of the wooden-boat era. 

This article was originally published in the September 2021 issue.

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