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Form & Function

Form & Function — Mast and Mallot Boatworks
Form & Function
There are lots of reasons why Joe Reed’s Mast & Mallet Boatworks build a proper custom boat. The first is him.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler — May 2001
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“I worked on a skipjack when I first came to the Bay,” Joe Reed told me as I handed him half my sandwich. “My family was originally from Indiana but moved to D.C. I didn’t mind the tough deck work but I liked to cook, so I did that, too. I also had the good fortune to mentor with a master carpenter named Clarence Stanford. He’s 80 and still working. I’d like to think that’s going to be me.”

Reed and I were leaning against the swim platform of a Mast & Mallet 30 up on the hard at the Holiday Point Marina in Edgewater, Maryland. Tahoe, Reed’s rambunctious golden retriever, was doing her best to mooch a bite of our lunch. Unsuccessful, she attempted to prove her worth by wrestling a lobster buoy into submission. That worked. She got a piece from both of us.

A bright, late-winter sun had tracked across most of a cloudless sky the afternoon I visited Reed. The temperature hovered at 50 as a breeze brought the brackish smell of the nearby Chesapeake to us. In a few weeks the Bay would begin to show the first signs of spring and echo with the familiar sounds of make-ready and chirping birds.

Reed’s shop, however, has been ringing all winter with the noise of power tools, the clatter of paint shakers, the tapping of hammers, and the unmistakable sounds of a lathe. Indeed, the din often overwhelmed the rock and roll music coming from a sawdust-covered, resin-splattered radio hidden somewhere in the rafters. “We’ve kind of given up trying to shut it off,” Reed admitted, his youthful face surrounded by a reddish beard flecked with gray that might have been paint.

Someone mentioned something about Reed cutting his beard to which he replied, “Might as well kill me.” And then, as he looked around his shop he added, “I guess I’m pretty lucky to be doing this.”

There was a great deal of satisfaction in that statement, and along with it came a glimmer in his eyes. I saw that same feeling in the way foreman Wayne Daum nodded in agreement, and in the manner in which head sander and finisher Tim Boots smiled without taking his eyes off his work. In fact, everyone I met at Mast & Mallet shared the same feeling, whether it was painter Joe Young or carpenters Carl Waters, Matt Delaney, or Andrew Brindle. I could see that these guys really love building these boats.

We were standing near the new 38-footer taking shape. (Other projects include 26-, 30-, 34-, and 43-footers.) Reed told me the owner was anxious to get it home to Maine. “I’d take the ride with him,” he said, “but there’s another 38 coming up fast and a 30 in back of that.”

Reed and a couple of buddies started Mast & Mallet Boatworks early in 1980 while kicking around several south Florida boatyards doing woodwork and repairs. By the time he returned to Maryland three years later, he was on his own and took on the refit of a 1926 75-foot Trumpy. Word spread in the small community, and as Reed’s repair business started to grow, his dream of building a boat became a reality. The 22-footer, whose design was somewhere between a Downeast lobster boat and a Chesapeake Bay crab scrapper, was built of Alaskan yellow cedar, single one-inch planks on the sides and a double-planked bottom. Her backbone was of Douglas fir, her sole was Western red cedar, and she was trimmed in teak and mahogany. Reed used bronze and stainless steel fasteners, epoxied the bilge, and fiberglassed the bottom and sides. A tiller bar supplied steerage, while a small diesel powered the smart-looking craft.

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This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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