Last month, the industry lost a dedicated innovator who loved boats and being out to sea. Joseph Correia of South Dartmouth, Mass., crossed the bar on Jan. 9 after a long illness at the age of 85, according to an obituary published in the local press.

“Joe worked closely with Sea Rover Fishing, Inc. for more than 30 years and was Captain and Chief Engineer of their vessel, the AA Ferrante. In addition, he owned two of his own boats: a swordfishing vessel, Defiance and the beautiful JoAnna, a wooden Stonington dragger. Joe was featured in the January 1979 edition of National Fisherman magazine for his novel redesign of the JoAnna and innovative four-in-one gantry system,” said his tribute, published in the New Bedford Standard-Times.

A quick search in our stacks led to the discovery of that January 1979 edition and the boatbuilding feature mentioned.

As it turns out, Correia’s career on the JoAnna did not get off to an auspicious start. But that wasn’t enough to deter him.

Built in 1942, the 55-foot Stonington dragger was launched as Wm. S. Cheesebrough and later renamed the SalviJoe. Correia put a deposit on the boat shortly before a blizzard struck the Northeast and sent the dragger to the bottom of the harbor while she was tied up at the Boston Fish Pier.

“I’ve always loved the Stoningtons,” Correia told NF for its Jan. ’79 edition. “Some of the guys thought I was nuts when I went ahead and bought her sitting on the bottom.”

Before and after: “This is what you might call a second-generation Stonington dragger. I tell you,” Joseph Correia told NF, “I love this old boat.”

But Correia was devoted and determined. He paid off the boat, pumped her dry and got a list going to pop the damaged planks out of the water. He flushed the engine and sailed her — with the list — to Tripp’s Boatyard in Westport, Mass., about 100 miles away.

“Now, doesn’t that tell you something about the Stonington design?” Correia noted.

Whether it was the Stonington, her captain, or some ethereal combination, the JoAnna was launched after a lot of TLC and along with that new gantry designed by Correia.

“I call it my four-in-on gantry,” Correia told NF. “It’s a mast, boom, gallows and reel net frame.” The gantry arrangement eliminated the need for standing rigging.

Correia’s son Robert, brother-in-law Ray Silva — a New Bedford firefighter — and crew member Greg Leal all helped with the rebuild.

“This is what you might call a second-generation Stonington dragger. I tell you,” Correia told NF, “I love this old boat.”

Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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