Updated 12 June 2024:
Friendship is a "baby skipjack" built in ouside of Buffalo, New York. She is privately owned and sails on the Hudson River in New York.

Skipjack Friendship
Friendship, 26 May 2023
All photos courtesy of Howard Raver


The following narrative was provided by Friendship's owner, Howard Raver, who brought this boat to our attention:

Friendship, A Baby Skipjack

Skipjack Friendship Trailboard
Friendship Trailboard

I found this boat for sale a couple of years ago, listed for $600. As soon as I saw her, I was smitten. I gave a deposit of $150 and came back a couple weeks later with the balance; however, the seller told me the $150 was good, as he felt the boat was going to the right person.

The boat’s name was Dreamcatcher, but I renamed her Friendship. She reminded me of a Friendship sloop from Maine, but the new name conveyed a deeper meaning, that friendship is an important part of our lives, and without friendship, we would be lacking so much.

The hull had an unfinished repair of some rot at the mast step. I finished off the repair and added a couple layers of fiberglass using epoxy resin.

Skipjack Friendship Trailboard

I have not been able to trace the history of Friendship. There are no identifying marks or numbers, and I believe she is a homebuilt vessel. The boat is constructed of marine grade plywood on frame (I couldn’t determine the type of wood used for the framing) and has a fiberglass skin. I believe the glass skin is not original due to the estimated age of the boat. The mast and boom are made from dimensional lumber, glued up and shaped.

I believe the boat was built in the 1950s or 1960s because she came with natural fiber sails. They were in remarkably good condition, which is why I first thought that new cotton sails could be made. I checked with numerous sailmakers and was told that cotton sails have not been made since around the 1950s when Dacron came out. I asked if I could have new sails made from cotton fiber—nobody would even consider it.

I traced the names of two owners previous to the person from whom I bought the boat. The earliest owner claims to have gotten the boat from the builder, but all he had was a first name and the idea that the builder was from the Buffalo, New York, area.

Skipjack Friendship Trailboard

On our second sail on June 29, 2022, I gave the electric outboard too much throttle and the motor ripped the top of the transom right off. I almost lost the motor. After getting the boat home, I saw that the transom could be repaired without too much problem. I had to replace most of the transom and fix a leak in the bow. Friendship is ready to come alive once more.

After the previous information was posted, we were contacted in 2024 by Greg Grundtisch of Grundy's Woodworks in Lancaster, New York, outside of Buffalo, who had stumbled on this web page. He told us that he was the boat's builder and provided the following information about her origin:

The original backbone, a single frame, and the centerboard slot was started by Bob Hicks in Wenham, Massachusetts, in the '80s. Bob was the editor-publisher of the magazine, Messing About in Boats. He stopped the build and hung it in his barn rafters for years. He wrote an article (c. 2000) about boat projects getting started and never finished. I contacted him about my finishing it. He told me to come and pick it up, which I did. I then had to build a shop around it.

Then in 2001 or so, I started building. The design is from the Smithsonian Institution collection of boat plans. This boat is a half-scale "Oyster Pirate Skipjack." These boats were designed to be a little narrower and lighter and faster than the average skipjack to poach oysters at night and on restricted oyster beds and be able to get away quickly from law enforcement folks. This was back in the late 1800s, early 1900s.

The original plans named the boat Messenger. I named this half-scale model Dreamcatcher, as it was a dream come true to have a skipjack.

I sold it to a kid from the Saratoga, New York, area, but regretted it. I offered to buy it back, but he had sold it off before I could get it. I often wondered where she wound up, until now. And she never looked better!

I found the boat to be a bit tender, and I once flipped it over. The sails in question (see above) were from Dabbler Sails. Stuart Hopkins, now deceased, was owner of the loft on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake. I was going to use Dacron, but Stuart said he had a set of cotton sails from an old skipjack and wondered if the cotton would be more appropriate for a boat of that vintage. I agreed, and he donated them for just the cost of shipping. They were heavier, but they did look the part of an original pirate.


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