A Craftsman’s Touch | Herreshoff 18 | Harbor Pilot Launch Restoration

This winter, as part of his contribution to GIBY’s team effort to restore and refit a vintage (1974) Herreshoff 18 Harbor Pilot Launch, Matt applied a craftsman’s touch. Now, as the project nears completion, here’s a look at some of the carpentry work involved.

First, Matt replaced an old, split console door with a new, custom-fabricated panel made of FPR, fiberglass, and teak veneer.

“By constructing the new door with these materials, I was able to create a ‘never-fail’ piece that will prevent future delamination,” says Matt. “The new door, unlike the old, will remain stable in its outdoor environment.”

Matt then custom-crafted two sections of teak bullnose trim for the new launch seats. While the original trim was made of multiple pieces, had a raised edge, and was painted brown, the new trim is installed as one piece, has a flush edge for added comfort, and has been left natural, to be finished bright.

In order for the wood to function as one large piece and make a few tight turns, Matt milled and fabricated his own laminate, ripping a teak board into several bendable pieces. He then matched up the grain and glued all back together, following a template he had made of the new seat shape. To accomplish this, he used clamping “calls” to distribute pressure and give the final laminate an extremely tight finish with minimal glue seams.

“This gives the wood the appearance of never having been cut, ” he explains. “By block-planing the curved trim to shape, and hard blocking out the mill marks, the new trim looks and functions like a solid piece of wood.”

The restoration also called for removing the boat’s original wood rails and reworking the old fiberglass cockpit combing to accept new lengths of teak. Matt shaped and butt-jointed these, in the spirit of their original construction method, before biscuit-fitting and thru-bolting all for a secure and long-lasting fit. As part of the new rail design, he also fabricated and installed a new set of teak boarding steps, as well as a new stick helm and tiller shoe.

Matt’s creative vision and woodworking skills on this project have contributed greatly to turning a sturdy, old launch into a lovely, new launch – one with quite a yachty look.

Stay tuned for more about this fun, transformative project and for news of her return to active service at Provincetown Marina!

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