One of my favorite customers is a fellow from Idaho that has had one of my Broadbill sneakboxes for many years. He called up one day and said that his Broadbill had met a unfortunate fate, falling off the top of his truck going down the freeway at better than 70 miles per hour. The Broadbill did a couple of cartwheels and ended up sliding to a stop on the asphalt upside down. Ron slammed on his brakes and ran back to the suffering boat and I believe (even though he won’t admit it) that there were tears running down his cheeks while looking down at his wounded little boat. I told Ron to bring the boat as quickly as possible to my shop so we could see if she could be saved and in just a couple of days, a truck drove into our driveway with the mangled boat.
Like a coroner, I dove into the post-mortem. There was a hole in the deck where the oarlock block had punched its way through the decking, the motor bracket was pretty much scrubbed off from abrasion where it had extended up beyond the stern decking, and there was one small crack and hole in the bottom of the boat (probably from the initial impact). Other than that damage, the boat looked remarkably intact and, in fact, you could have launched it and no water would have come into the boat itself. I immediately started working on an estimate sheet for the repair and after adding it all up, I told Ron that the truth was that it would almost be cheaper to build him a new boat than to fix up this one. Ron seized on the opportunity to have us build him boat that was just a bit bigger, one that could haul and hunt two hunters (instead of the Broadbill’s single hunter capacity) and one that had the latest evolution of our outboard well configuration. The major advantage of the outboard well is that it allows a proper horsepower outboard to be carried on the boat without it sticking out away from the stern outline of the boat. My theory is that late in the hunting season when the birds have been shot at a bit and carry the wealth (and perhaps sting) of experience that an older-wiser bird might have, the ducks actually start to look at the engines hanging off of boats as indicators of pain. In other words, if there is one common trait to all good hunting boats (except for some of my boats), it’s that damn outboard which is not very concealable and certainly not as hide-able as a boat without the outboard-wart hanging off the ass end of the boat.
The other advantage of the outboard well is that the operator of the outboard is further forward in the boat and if you are using the boat alone, the boat is more even on her keel in relationship to the water. The Bluebill is the result of that designing and building process and Ron is building on a relationship with this new boat. He reminded me of something he said the other day. “Some of us end up getting married twice (or more) in our lives and just because you might love the new wife, it doesn’t take away from the good memories of the old wife. Just don’t let the new one know that you have such thoughts!” — Sam Devin