Boat Shop has new steward in Stewart
Joe hendricks | Submitted
Rick Stewart and Tradewinds, a 22-foot
caravel-planked wooden sloop being restored
at theboat shop and Turner Matthews’
Nancy Jeanne,a 26-foot wooden fantail launch
also being restored at the boat shop.
CORTEZ – Do you own a boat, but need space to work on it? Are you the volunteering type who would like to spend some free time repairing and restoring boats, even if you don’t own one yourself? Are you skilled in a trade and need an outlet for your talents?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) Boat Shop might be the place for you.
Located at 4404 116th St. W., in a formerly abandoned home at the northeast corner of the FISH property, the boat shop is part of the FISH BoatWorks program that accepts donated boats, renovates them and sells them to raise funds for a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the 95-acre FISH Preserve.
After a year of reorganization that included the loss of county-employee Bob Pitt and efforts to include commercial fishermen, the boat shop and new manager Rick Stewart are looking to make a fresh start.
The yard surrounding the shop is now available to boat owners in need of temporary repair space. Users will pay a $25 weekly storage fee and have access to a forklift, an engine hoist and limited covered workspace,
The shop’s primary focus is wooden boats, but vessels of all varieties, materials and sizes are welcome.
Vessels must be insured and users will provide their own tools and materials, with boat shop tools and equipment also available on a supervised basis.
Stewart emphasized that this will be an active repair facility, not a parking lot, saying, “This is not a storage facility where you can bring your boat and leave it in the corner.”
This offer applies to FISH members only, but anyone can become a member for an annual fee of $10 or $20 for a family membership. The hope is that those who use the repair facility will also volunteer for FISH projects. FROM PAGE 24
Currently licensed commercial fishermen that are FISH members can use the facility for one month free of charge before paying the $25 weekly fee.
As part-time manager, Stewart will supervise boat shop operations on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional access is possible, keeping in mind that Stewart was not hired to oversee a full-time operation.
Volunteers Needed & Boats for Sale
FISH board members hope the new schedule and the hiring of a manager will attract more volunteers.
Under Stewart’s supervision, volunteers will help renovate and repair donated boats for future resale or historical preservation.
There will be ample learning opportunities for the inexperienced, but common sense will prevail when it comes to safety.
“My job is to supervise anyone using the equipment and I have to make sure the volunteers and clients are proficient in their use,” Stewart said, noting that he will maintain a policy of not allowing alcohol on the premises.
“Any kind of trade is welcome: wood working, boat building, electrical wiring, engine repair, painting, caulking, machine maintenance and even inventory control. We’re looking for like-minded people that love and respect the craft of boat building and boat repair.”
Ideally, volunteers will assist in the FISH-funded restoration of the Campesina, a 22-foot Cuban fishing boat; Tradewinds, a 22-foot caravel-planked wooden sloop; and Sea Jeep, a 30-foot wooden sport fishing power boat built in 1960.
Looking ahead, Stewart envisions volunteer mess-abouts that allow volunteers to use the boats they help restore.
With approximately 2,000 square feet of interior space, the shop contains a table saw, a band saw, a miter saw, a drill press, a belt sander and various hand tools.
The shop also provides indoor storage space for the Esperanza – the historically significant 15 ft. FISH-owned wooden sailboat that transported six Cuban refugees to the United States in 1990.
The boat shop currently has four vessels for sale – a 22 foot racing sloop, $1,000; a Catalina 22 sailboat, $1,500; a Spindrift 19 sailboat, $1,200; and a Compact 23 sail boat with teak interior, high-end stereo and an almost new outboard motor, $3,000.
With the blessing of the FISH board of directors, Stewart will continue operating his yacht repair business on the property on off days, where he is also renovating the 1969 teak motorsailor Southwind he bought from FISH, with his $15,000 annual FISH salary applied directly to that debt. He is also renovating the Nancy Jeanne, a beautiful 26 ft. wooden fantail launch owned by board member Turner Matthews.
Those interested in any opportunities mentioned in this story can contact Stewart at 941-580-1036.