Wooden boat from Harrison Boatworks, built in tradition of craftsmanship of the Roanoke Island boatbuilders.

Wooden boat from Harrison Boatworks, built in tradition of craftsmanship of the Roanoke Island boatbuilders.

We seem to have some time on our hands these days. Not that we want to have time on our hands, but it looks as though circumstances have taken that decision away from us.

One of the nice things about having time to spare, though, is there is the opportunity to check out some things that we never quite got around to doing.

For the history buffs, here’s one.

In World War II, Manteo was a center of boat building for the military. There were wooden boats, because that’s where the expertise and experience was.

Theses weren’t small watercraft that the Manteo Boat Building Corporation was building…although their first contract was for twenty 14’ sailing dinghies for the Naval Academy,

More contracts followed and the company ended up building everything from lifeboats to 105’ patrol craft to landing craft.

Much of their work was on crash boats. Either 63’ or 85’ long, the ships were appropriately named since they were use to rescue downed airmen after their plane crashed.

Although the company began with no capital to speak of—they had to borrow the first $100,000 the get going even though they did not yet have a contract, the naval inspector who reviewed the company pointed out that there was considerable expertise in boatbuilding and design.

Evidently the first workers who were going to be working on the boats had their own tools as well—another factor in the companies favor, according to the inspector.

The boat building tradition continues today. Wanchese. on Roanoke Island, is the center the industry on the Outer Banks. Tourism is, of course, the dominant business right now. With an industry focused on building 60’ foot yachts and longer, it is an important part of the local economy.

Please be safe and stay sane and remember this is just temporary, as frustrating as it may be. Brindley Beach Vacations will be here when the clouds lift and the Outer Banks can again welcome everyone.