“I sold the first one and then four others. By that time I was looking
into a design for a bigger cold-molded boat,” Reed said. “I
chose cold-molding because it combines the best of both building techniques
and results in strength, durability, and lighter weight compared to other
materials.” For the blueprints for the first 30-footer, he contracted
Annapolis marine architect Mike Kaufman.
Reed asked Kaufman to take the best elements of the New England design
and blend them with the easy-to-plane, no pounding hull familiar on the
often-choppy conditions of the Chesapeake Bay. “He’s done every
Reed and his crew of seven have two sites for building the boats. The
Edgewater facility is where they are finished off but it is in nearby
Galesville where all these hand-built, cold-molded boats begin. And they
all begin the same way.
“I know how much material I’m going to need so I pick each lot
of wood for each boat myself,” Reed said as we drove to a pair of
old waterside corrugated tin Quonset sheds once used as oyster shucking
storehouses. The interiors are now lined with layers of teak, mahogany,
and red and white cedar sawdust, instead of decades of oyster dust from
The vessel frames and keels are fabricated in one shed and assembled and
planked in the other. The cedar for the hulls is ordered as six by sixes
in 12-, 14-, and 16-foot lengths. The lumber is then cut into 5/8"-thick
x 5 1/2'-long plank stock and then “slickered” (air-dried) for
at least a month before being planed to a 1/2"-thickness.
Full-size Mylar sheets of each station, indicating the sides and bottom
frames as well as the bevels and stem, are generated next. Reed then traces
the boat’s lines onto the wooden stock. The frames are cut out on
a band saw and trued with a block plane. Offsets, used for locating where
the frames will be glued to form the sides and bottom, are placed on a
grid layout on the floor of the shed.
The waterline is then marked on the frames and a temporary brace is placed
on the mark. Next the stem is traced from the Mylar sheet and cut and
assembled as laminations. The strong back is set up and leveled, the frame
stations put into place and plumbed, and the stem is installed. This is
all done upside down, as that is how the boats are assembled.
Fitting and placing the keelson and chines, and clamping the sheer completes
the basic backbone of the boat. Battens are laid on all the stations and
are checked for being true. Now the planks can be fitted fore and aft
in two layers, seams overlapped, and glued with WEST System™ epoxy—used
throughout the building process—between the layers, and secured to
the frames with stainless steel staples and silicon bronze fasteners.
The hull is sanded and faired—some 700 hours of sanding is required
to get it right—and a saturation coat of epoxy is applied. Another
sanding is done before two layers of 10-ounce fiberglass cloth are laid
on the hull and keel. The hull is now sanded, faired, and sanded again.
The boat is flipped over with a TraveLift and the temporary frame brace
removed. Epoxy fillets are applied to the frames and the hull’s interior
is coated with epoxy. Engine and bilge stringers are installed and the
interior of the hull is painted with epoxy barrier paint. The deck beams
make way for the deck after which the interior is built in place. With
the installation of the cabin, plumbing, wiring, engine, and hardware,
the boat is prepped for its Awlgrip topcoating.
“I shoot the hulls at night because I have more control over the
ambient temperature and humidity. That’s critical, especially with
Awlgrip,” said Reed as our conversation drifted to delivery schedules.
Depending upon the size and individual owner requests, Reed can have one
of his fine craft ready in about six to eight months.
The wait will be well worth it. Reed’s boats are finished off in
yacht fashion as evidenced by fine joinerwork and matching grains in carefully
stained and varnished trim. They’ve got a deep forefoot and proven
running bottom and the deadrise going aft runs from 30 degrees in the
high slamming area down to eight degrees at the transom. The bigger boats
offer twin diesel power.
The bottom line is Reed will build you a one-of-a-kind quality boat with
all the care, craftsmanship, and pride he and his crew can deliver. But
seeing is believing, and if you are considering having a custom boat built
you may want to pay him a visit. And just to entice you, I’ll leave
you with this: During my visit Reed’s father-in-law, the senior man
on the team, was fashioning a door for the 38’s cabin. He had just
milled one side and was flipping it over to do the other. “How much
did you have to take off?” I asked. He ran a seasoned, well-worn
hand down the side of the door. “’Bout that much,” he said.
Mast & Mallet Boatworks (410) 798-9510. Fax: (410) 798-9511.
Next page > Form & Function, continued
> Page 1, 2