Dave Lucas, Helen Marie, and the New Project

Helen Marie 


Beaufort is about halfway to Bradenton, Florida, land of Dave Lucas and his band of merry boat builders. So this trip offered a good opportunity to make a quick raid on “Sure It’s Wood” Forest to abscond with the new boat project (about which more presently). But doing it in a day meant leaving before daylight and returning long after dark, with only a brief visit in between.


South Georgia Sunrise


Dave started another Mega Melonseed a while back. That’s a hull built to the same lines as their 15 foot Cortez melons, but stretched to 20 feet. Sadly, just after the hull was done the back end of the boat got scorched in a big shop fire. Always ready to improvise, Dave decided what he really needed was a big comfy fantail launch for cruising the tidal rivers. So he lopped off the back end, added on more, and just kept going. Thus, Helen Marie was born.



He’s included just about everything you can think of in this boat, and he’s not done yet. It’s got air conditioning, running water, AC and DC electric powered by a generator, a refrigerator/freezer, water ballast operated by electric pumps, and still more to come. I only had a little time to look around, but he gave me the nickel tour. Dave didn’t know I was filming (this is all candid):


direct video link


The crazy has spread quite a bit since last time I was here. The shop was rebuilt and enlarged, and about three times as many boats are now complete or in various stages of assembly. They’re stashed all over the place – everywhere you look, in fact – tucked in the bushes, back under the trees, under tarps, stacked on racks. I would guess about 30 boats in all, and maybe twice that many more have been built but are kept off site. And there’s the new Tiki Hut Command Center where all these zany ideas are spawned. Obviously, they’re having way too much fun.

Wish I’d had more time to really look at everything there. Some of these things are really cool, both big and small.


“Crazy Steve” by a KIngston Lobster Boat 


While Dave kept me distracted, “Crazy Steve” Demming gathered all the pieces and parts together for the boat project I was there to adopt – the partially completed hull of an Iain Oughtred Gannet.













There’s a long story behind it’s provenance that I’ll get to later, but with so many projects going on at once, Steve didn’t have time for this one, too. For some reason, Dave and Steve thought I would be the right rube, err builder, to take it on and finish it. The strip work is top notch, though I can see I’ll want to redo the interior layout, and some of the glass work will need to be redone. All in all, a good start on what should be a fun boat.

I’ve got a big backlog of house projects to finish first, but it will be nice to have boaty design problems to figure out again. And it should offer some lively sailing when it’s done.




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