Boat of the Month April 2018: A 19-foot Carolina skiff

This unnamed 19-foot Carolina skiff may have a few years on her and perhaps not look all that special, but to the Bruno family she’s the soul of a fishing tradition. Built in 1980, this skiff has helped three generations of fishermen begin their journey to make a living on the water and shows no signs of stopping.

“One of the very special aspects of this particular skiff is that it has been in the family since it was built,” said owner Keith Bruno. “My father owned this boat first. He would take two-year-old Zach (Keith’s son) rod and reel pin hooking on the skiff.”

The skiff belongs to Bruno on paper, but he is quick to say, “Zach uses it as his own.”Zach and younger son, Ben, hung their own roe mullet net while still in high school and have fished the skiff whenever possible. When Zach graduated high school, he immediately started crabbing.

According to Bruno, the boat represents much more than simply a tool of the trade; it represents family.

“My father and I spent a lot of time on that boat. My sons and I spend a lot of time on that boat. And my sons spend a lot of time together on that boat learning about all kinds of things,” he said. “Weather, fishing, gear, each other and life in general. More than a few other boats have passed through our hands over the years, but this one is part of the family.”

“The Carolina Skiff is without doubt Zachary’s workhorse,” he said. “It enables him to participate in a few different fisheries throughout the year. We have other boats that are more specialized, like our mullet boat with the motor in the bow.”

Bruno admits the skiff is showing her age, but that seems minor compared to its true value.

“It has had a few different engines, gotten a few holes, has been reinvented a few times and still goes to work,” he said. “Good days and bad days, it goes out with its family. Keeps us safe. Makes us money and carries us home. It just works. When I see Zachary and his brother Benjamin come around the point and head to the dock, I think about my dad and how much he would love to be with them on that boat.”

Home port: Oriental, N.C.

Owner: Keith Bruno

Captain: Zachary Bruno

Builder: Carolina Skiff

Year Built: 1997

Fisheries: Blue crab, mullet, speckled trout, flounder and menhaden

Hull material: Fiberglass

Length: 19 feet

Beam: 7.5 feet

Draft: 12 feet

Crew: 1 to 3

Engine: 2005 90-hp Yamaha outboard

Speed: 32 knots top, 22 cruising

Fuel capacity: 12 gallons in main tank, 6 gallons in auxiliary

Fuel consumption: 5.5 gallons per hour cruising

Prop: 13″ x 15″, stainless steel

Hold capacity: Tops out at 2,200 mullet

Electronics: Garmin 44dv combo unit

About the author

Samuel Hill

Samuel Hill is associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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