Illustration by Jim Ewing
It’s 1955. Dwight Eisenhower is in the White House, James Dean is the movie matinee idol, and the Brooklyn Dodgers finally win the World Series. In Warren, Rhode Island, designer and boatbuilder Nick Potter is finishing a new powerboat based on the traditional New England lobstering and fishing boats he knows so well.
It’s a simple craft with a single engine and lots of cockpit space — seaworthy and with salty good looks. It’s the Dyer 29, and it will outlast them all.
Still available nearly 60 years later from the company that built the first one — The Anchorage — the Dyer 29 is thought to be the oldest continuously produced powerboat in the United States. “The next one out of the mold will be No. 356,” says Tad Jones, the company president and grandson of founder Bill Dyer.
There was nothing radical or unusual about the design back in 1955 — or now. In fact, Potter’s boat reflected the tastes of the time for small, easily powered fishing boats that could work the coast and rivers for stripers and bluefish, and perhaps handle lobstering, as well.
The semidisplacement fiberglass hull — 28 feet, 9 inches overall — has a tall bow with a sharp entry that flattens to a broad transom. A full-length keel offers stability and protects the prop and rudder. A single engine gives the boat a 15- to 17-knot cruise, with a top end of about 20 knots (depending on the size of the power plant).
The boat has been configured in several flush-deck and trunk cabin models, with modest interiors featuring a V-berth and a small galley. Early trunk-cabin models had a dinette on the starboard side and a marine head beneath the V-berth. An enclosed head replaced the dinette on later models. A center console version also has been offered.
The Dyer 29 is not the only history-making boat in The Anchorage’s fleet. The 9-foot fiberglass Dyer Dhow, designed by Dyer, dates from 1949 and is the oldest continuously built fiberglass boat of any kind.
November 2014 issue