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A Jack Wilbur Motor Launch

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