WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS | SPECKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Jamie Wilkins, owner of Wilkins Craftworks, is well on his way to becoming a master boatmaker. After spending eight months creating his first masterpiece, Wilkins is proud of the final product. At 17.5 feet long, his version of the Down East-style lobster skiff is perfect for hopping around the many inland lakes of Northern Michigan and beyond.
During the year he spent building a home in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine, Wilkins became fond of the Down East-style of lobster boats that dot the harbors. “Down East” refers to the area running from the east coast of Maine south to Boston; it’s a term that has been around for many years and is used proudly by East Coasters.
Drawing on his extensive experience in fine woodworking and trim carpentry, Wilkins had the idea to use logs from giant cedar trees he had recently removed from a building site. After milling and drying the logs, he used them to construct the hull of the boat, making this a fine example of true Northern Michigan craftsmanship, created from authentic Elk River white cedar. With mahogany gunwales, breasthook, transom, and other brightwork accents, the boat is a genuine show-stopper. A 60-horsepower Evinrude outboard motor offers plenty of power to move the skiff through the water with ease.
A unique feature of the Down East-style boat is a flared hull design, as it is often called. A flared hull features a large keel and flat aft sections that allow the boat to slice cleanly and comfortably through the waves without significant loss of speed. A flared bow and tumblehome transom are also characteristic of Down East-style boats. These are just a couple of the special features that caught Wilkin’s eye and inspired him to bring some Down East style to our Michigan lakes.
Wilkins Craftworks plans to fit each boat to match the lifestyle of the soon-to-be owner. Whether your joy is recreational boating, pleasure cruising, or fishing, Wilkins’ skiffs are the perfect size for easy hauling and maneuvering in and out of tight spaces. This was a deciding factor for Wilkins in choosing, for now, to stick with creating boats on the smaller end of the spectrum. In addition, he says this size boat allows for customization at an affordable price.
Although fairly new to boatbuilding, Wilkins is proud of the quality of his work and the timeless grace of the design. He’s confident that each boat will become a treasured family heirloom, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Can you see yourself behind the wheel of one of these pristine skiffs in the future? Perhaps!
Wilkins Craftworks Elk Rapids Michigan l (231) 218-7567 l WilkinsCraftworks.com