Some 2 years ago, a large, wooden boat appeared in the boatyard down the street from my house. Fifty-three feet long and bearing the name Sea Star, she had obviously served as a passenger vessel of some type, perhaps a headboat, judging by her battered exterior and multiple rod holders along the port gunwale.
Eventually, I learned more about the vessel by speaking with her owner at the time, a soft-spoken fellow named “Doc” who worked at the yard. Turns out Doc had purchased the Sea Star from a nonprofit that had used her for marine-education excursions out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. He said the boat needed some work, but that her hull was sound and the 250-hp Detroit Diesel engine was in fairly decent shape. What did he plan do with her? I asked. She’s for sale again, he replied, although he admitted that thus far none of the potential buyers had panned out.
I had assumed the Sea Star would spend the rest of her days on the hard or in a landfill, so you can imagine my surprise when I recently spied her docked alongside one of the stone wharves in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. After being introduced to the new owners by a mutual friend, I learned that the Sea Star was preparing to embark on a new mission, this time in Boston.
Brothers Tim and Dan Gover, who run excursions aboard another classic wooden boat out of Winthrop, Massachusetts, invited me aboard. They told me that they planned to spruce up the old boat and use her for fishing trips and tours in Boston Harbor. They also filled me in on more of the boat’s history.
The Sea Star was built in 1965 in Deltaville, Virginia, a town known for its boatbuilding heritage. While the period between her launch and the early 1980s remains foggy, I discovered that she served as an open fishing boat called the Speedy Jr., based in Captree, New York, beginning in the mid-‘80s. After several years in Captree she was renamed the Capt. James and relocated to Huntington, New York, where she hosted fishing parties in Long Island Sound for about 6 years before returning to Captree as the Captree Princess for 2 more years.
Tim Gover confirmed that the boat was indeed seaworthy, but needed some work to meet Coast Guard passenger-vessel requirements. After a short stop in Boston, the Govers were bringing her to Cape Ann for the winter, to be worked on by the shipwrights at Gloucester Marine Railways. If all went according to schedule, the Sea Star would be running flounder trips and ferrying tourists to the Boston Harbor islands by spring of 2012.
I took my leave of the Govers and the Sea Star as evening fell on Mattapoisett Harbor. All 3 would be shoving off early the next morning, shipping up to Boston, where a rugged, wooden boat would begin the next leg of her long and unusual journey.