Video: The Fabulous Fatty Knees


When the Edey & Duff Boatbuilding Company closed its doors following the unrelated and unexpected deaths of John Harding and David Davignon in 2009, the loss hit close to home, literally. You see, Edey & Duff operated out of the Aucoot Cove Boatyard, less than 100 yards from my home at the end of Aucoot Road in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. In the months after the yard’s shuttering, numerous trucks rumbled past my house as the molds and tooling for the various Edey & Duff models were carted off to other Massachusetts boatbuilding companies. Fortunately, all found good homes.

An 8′ Fatty Knees rests on the beach at Barlows Landing on Pocasset Harbor. Photo Tom Richardson

The Sakonnet 23 daysailor is now being produced by Marshall Marine of South Dartmouth, while the smaller Stuart Knockabout and Doughdish are being built by Ballantine Boatworks of Cataumet. The Stone Horse 23 made a homecoming of sorts, as the molds were acquired by Manchester-based Crocker’s Boatyard (founded by the son of Stone Horse designer Sam Crocker)—although the yard has yet to turn out any of the rugged sloops. Last but not least, the molds for the Fatty Knees dinghy found a loving home with David Foynes of Sagamore Beach.

Designed by Lyle Hess, the Fatty Knees has enjoyed widespread popularity as a rowing and sailing dinghy for more than 70 years. The lapstrake hull was originally built of wood, then fiberglass, by the Lyle Hess Boat Company in California, before the design was bought by Edey & Duff, which built hundreds of Fatty Knees through the ‘80s. However, a lack of marketing and the advent of cheaper, mass-produced dinghies eventually led to a drop-off in demand.

This Fatty Knees plies the waters of Harmon’s Harbor, Maine. Photo Tom Richardson

Among knowledgeable boaters, however, the boat remained a favorite, as it was easy to rig and sail, and a dream to row—as you can see in the accompanying video, shot in Pocasset Harbor. When the molds became available, Foynes saw a chance to revive the brand, and set about the task with the help of veteran boatbuilder John Dietenhoffer.

The “new” Fatty Knees hulls are laid up at Pine Grove Plastics in Freetown, Massachusetts, and finished at Diettenhoffer’s shop in Duxbury. The boats are still constructed of quality materials and components, and are available with some clever and useful options brought about by Foynes’ and Diettenhoffer’s many years of sailing and boatbuilding experience.

The Fatty Knees is available in 7’, 8’ and 9’ models, with or without sailing kits, in a variety of custom hull colors. Prices range from $3,234 to $3,615 for the bare hull, with the sailing kit running an additional $1,595.


The Fatty Knees is easy to rig and sail. Photo  Tom Richardson
Builder John Diettenhoffer sails the Fatty Knees through Pocasset Harbor on a late-summer day. Photo Tom Richardson

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