A Jack Wilbur Motor Launch

Toast, built at Gannon and Benjamin, retains its status as a celebrated motor launch by Jack Wilbur

This delicious launch is design No. 88 from Nat Benjamin at the Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. Her name is Toast, and she is a descendant of Baguette, a motor launch that Connecticut boatbuilder Jack Wilbur created in the 1980s.

“It’s such a fun boat to go out for lunch or a sunset cocktail,” says Abby Boal, who owns Toast with her husband, Jeff. “We can get her into pretty shallow areas all around Narragansett Bay. She’s such a fun, happy little boat.”

The Boals commissioned Toast after seeing Baguette, which Gannon and Benjamin rebuilt to use as a workboat after Wilbur died. No plans existed for the original design, so Benjamin drew them. He kept similar dimensions—Toast has a length overall of 23 feet, 6 inches, and a beam of 7 feet, 10 inches—and slightly altered the lines. Constructing the fantail stern was a feat for the shipyard, given that it was the crew’s first.

Four years after delivery, the Boals still take Toast out for a cruise once a week, usually gunkholing around the bay or boat-watching in Newport, Rhode Island. Jeff’s favorite feature is at the helm. “Rather than a wheel, it has what’s essentially a vertical tiller,” he says. “It’s really fast, really responsive. It was originally designed so you could go hard to port or starboard on a moment’s notice without having to turn a wheel.”

His other favorite feature is “Toast’s secret,” hidden beneath the aft caprail. “You go for a swim, and you ask who wants to take a hot shower afterward, and everyone raises their hand,” he says.

A woman on Martha’s Vineyard has asked about building her own version of the launch, Jeff says, perhaps a bit longer than Toast, but also in the style of Baguette. Abby thinks a great name would be Crouton.

This article was originally published in the July 2021 issue.



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