With as much construction as the industry is supporting right now, it almost feels as if every month could provide enough stories to be called a boatbuilding issue. As exciting as new launches are, what really keeps things humming along is consistent work at the yards — gearing up for a new season, mending nets, engine upgrades, new prop configurations, new handling and chilling systems. As Mark Gleason said in our April issue feature, “New boats are sexy, but maintenance keeps the yards going.”

National Fisherman’s June issue features profiles on two storied boatbuilding hubs — Essex, Mass., and Port Townsend, Wash. Our Boats & Gear editor, Jean Paul Vellotti, took some shots of the waterfront in Essex one early spring day. Those scenes inspired his feature on the rise of the East Coast boatbuilding port and how it has changed from a production port for commercial fishing boats to a center for the preservation of historic boatbuilding techniques. The local river still puts boats to the sea, just not the modern offshore fishing boats preferred by the local fleets. The tale of Essex begins on page 32.

Port Townsend has an almost tortured artist history when it comes to boatbuilding. Many of the town’s historic leaders ached for it to be a stronghold in the construction of commercial boats. But instead it has organically established itself as a haven for fine craftsmanship, skilled and dependable maintenance crews, affordable and accessible slips, and traditional wooden boatbuilding skills. It also boasts the nation’s only publicly owned 300-ton travel lift. The spirit of Port Townsend’s boatbuilding culture is as independent and unique as the fishing industry itself. Read Seattle-based freelance writer Sierra Golden’s full profile, beginning on page 36.

We can’t talk about wooden boats without looking at the last commercial fleet of them on Chesapeake Bay. Fisheries photographer and writer Jay Fleming takes us on a modern history trip with our cover story this month — a profile on Maryland’s skipjack fleet. The first skipjacks were built in 1865, when Maryland legalized oyster dredging after a four-decade hiatus. Now there are fewer than 50 of the once-2,000-strong fleet remaining, and most of them are on display at maritime museums. Get a glimpse of this sail-driven fleet of wooden boats working around antiquated laws and prime Chesapeake oyster grounds on page 22.

And what if you don’t want to take over an historic wooden boat? There’s plenty of room for practicality here, too. If you’re considering building a new dreamboat or overhauling an older one, then you must be also thinking about how to finance such a project. Let Markos Scheer, a maritime and admiralty law attorney, be your guide. His feature on the myriad ways to find financing for new construction and overhauls begins on page 28.

For more, as always, you can turn to our Around the Yards pages, follow us online through the NF website, Facebook page and newsletter to get the latest on launches, on-spec designs and who’s who in the yards that are in your own backyard and beyond.

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

Join the Conversation