Dispatches - June 2010

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A U.S. design with overseas appeal

An Irish boatbuilder is using a time-tested American design from the late John Atkin to launch his business.

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Tiernan Roe, founder of Roeboats in County Cork on Ireland's south coast, was born nearly a decade after John Atkin designed the Ninigret 22 in 1963. While choosing a hull form for his first boat, Roe discovered that the slender, seakindly lapstrake Atkin design was just the dayboat he'd been looking for.

"The waters around here can be pretty rough, and so you need a boat that is really seaworthy - in coastal waters, rivers, in large bays, maybe a little bit offshore for fishing," says Roe, 38, who has sold one Ninigret 22 and is hoping to secure some U.S. orders. "It's very fuel efficient because it has a semidisplacement hull which is very fine at the entrance and flattens out to a fairly flat form at the transom."

The wooden Ninigret 22 needs just 20 horses to reach a top speed of 20 knots, says Roe, a former furniture designer and builder with a degree in industrial engineering. The outboard sits in a covered well.

Roe followed the Atkin plans closely, but chose to vary the deck layout to cope with Ireland's climate. "[Atkin] had designed it for a canvas top over the cabin part, which would suit a warmer, drier clime, but here in Ireland we get an awful lot of rain, so I put a hardtop on," he says. The cabin can sleep two, but it's more suited for ducking out of the rain than overnighting, says Roe.

Roe built the boat with white oak frames and western red cedar stringers, and it's clad in 3/8-inch marine plywood. He encapsulated the hull with epoxy and finished it off with a two-part epoxy and two-part polyurethane paint.

Roe, who caught the boating bug when he built an Optimist dinghy with his father at age 10, started his company in March 2009. Ninigret carries a beam of 6 feet, 8 inches, displaces 2,070 pounds and has a 1-foot draft. The boat has a space under the cabin bunk for a 19-gallon fuel tank or portable tanks can be used. The boat without power is 19,900 euros, which currently is around $27,100. For information, visit www.roeboats.wordpress.com or contact Roe at roeboats@ymail.com.

-    Chris Landry

Be careful where you drop that derelict boat

When a Florida deputy sheriff discovered a derelict 1986 Four Winns 190 Horizon in an undeveloped subdivision in the small town of Pace, north of Pensacola, the hull identification and registration numbers had been painstakingly removed with a sander and drill. So Greg Barnes took his investigation online and used a satellite image from Google Earth along with the more-detailed imagery from the Bird's Eye View feature on Bing.com to track down the owner.

A career lawman, Barnes says he's used the remarkably clear images, which can be zoomed in to individual neighborhoods and even homes, since joining the county's environmental division in 2006. He set about searching the surrounding neighborhoods near the abandonment site. He found images of 10 homes with a boat in the yard, then checked registration records in search of a match. He found a modest home with a white bowrider on a trailer whose registration matched the abandoned boat's make and model.

Barnes visited the neighborhood and saw a Yamaha outboard on sawhorses and an empty trailer in the yard. After some initial resistance, the owner admitted dumping the Four Winns to avoid paying a disposal fee. He faces a third-degree felony charge and a fine of up to $5,000.

"He went to a lot of trouble to hide ownership," Barnes says, "when it would have cost him $18 to take it to the dump."

-    Rich Armstrong

In Our Wake

In June 1921, the Camden, Maine-based four-masted schooner Laura A. Barnes was en route from New York City to Georgetown, S.C., without cargo when she ran into dense fog and high winds and seas off North Carolina's notorious Outer Banks. Hugging the shoreline, the 120-footer grounded around midnight near Bodie Island Lighthouse. Fortunately, the surfmen of the Bodie Island and Nags Head Coast Guard stations were able to rescue all eight hands with a fireable "beach apparatus." The captain later sold the ship, valued at $80,000 intact, to "local wreckers." Fifty-two years later, the wreck was moved to Coquina Beach, where the crumbling skeleton of her hull remains an attraction for beachcombers.

This article originally appeared in the June 2010 issue.