By Laurence G. Kolk member of the Blue Ridge chapter
It was this particular motor launch that master boat builder Bryan favored to replicate; the classic integrity of batten seam construction was his inspiration. But he added new technology on power with a Honda four stroke outboard. Harry’s vision was to explore the limits of seaworthiness, fuel efficiency, and quietness on a William Hand-like motor launch capable of handling the coastal waters of Canada and Maine.
A most attractive feature of the William Hand motor launch that Harry Bryan chose to redesign, was that this particular motor launch was built on a footprint of seaworthy fishing boats plying the waters for swordfish miles off shore in New England. Knowing this, how could I resist owning a boat with such an elegant history?
In 2001, while on business with the US Forest Service in washington State, I visited with the Pacific Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding to share my desire to have the school build a different version of Bryan’s Handy Billy. The Director and the Master Boat Builder were excited about building a boat to my specifications and loved the materials and design changes. I did not hesitate to contract to build this one of a kind William Hand style motor launch framed in Purpleheart ( Pltogyne) and elegantly dressed in Honduras Mahogany, decks inlayed with Douglas Fir, and fitted out in polished bronze metal brightwork.
The launch took about a year to build with Master Boat Builder, Richard Wilmore, and his students from Australia and New Zealand crafting not only a classic wooden boat, but a work of art as so many viewers over the years have characterized my boat.
While still on a US Forest Service project in Washington and Oregon in 2002, I was able to view the constructive stages of the boat and deliver the bronze metal- brightwork I imported from Australia and Canada. The artfully designed and constructed boat was finished in late 2002 and briefly tested on Puget Sound. The real symbiotic relationship between the boat and me started a week later with a trial voyage on Flathead Lake in Montana. On this voyage, my boat and I shared the compelling need to learn from one another the virtues only nature can provide -that wooden boats bind trees, water, and humanity in a mystic relationship.
I have witnessed this relationship many times in the fondness that observers display in viewing wooden boats and, with an almost deeply held primordial desire, feel compelled to touch the wood exterior of the boat to make a connection with nature similar to the magnetic pull lakes, rivers, and coastal shorelines have with most people.
Lastly, I share with you that this one-of-a-kind redesigned William Hand Jr. motor launch, the fruit of the Pacific Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, Harry Bryan, and me has served the public as well as its proud owner in many Tallahassee Veterans Day parades, boat shows, and as an attractive prop for US Coast Guard Boater Education stations.