The Great Depression in the 1930s introduced many folks to deep sea fishing, not as a luxury, but as a necessity. Through World War II,
the party fishing boat industry served as a simple form of leisure for many urban residents because of its convenience and value. At the conclusion of the war, advances in operator skill and the navigation technology evolved, as did the need for larger vessels that could carry more passengers to new and distant fishing grounds. An abundant supply of surplus war vessels fit the needs of local Party Boat skippers very nicely. These surplus vessels were well-built, large, fast, cheap and easy to convert to party fishing boats.
By the mid-1950s, many of these older vessels needed replacement and with no fresh supply of surplus vessels, boatmen turned to boat builders for their new vessels. Many boatyards began to construct boats with specific designs tailored to the needs of party boat operators. Builders such as Van Sant Boatyard, Scott McBurney Boatyard and Stowman Shipyards built some of the very first '65 footers' and were soon joined by Stevenson Boatworks and Deebold Boatyard. All of these builders produced reliable and sturdy vessels, but none of them built more party boats or more beautifully crafted ones than those from the Gillikin family of boatyards.
GILLIKIN BOATS - James and Vance Gillikin of Gillikin Brothers Boat Works at Harkers Island, NC primarily built commercial fishing boats and workboats until they completed their first party fishing boat in 1956, the "CAPTAIN JOSEPH II" from Captree, NY. Over the next 30 years the Gillikin family of boatyards built 78 party fishing boats. With their signature fine varnish work and distinctive Carolina bow flare, these boats were some of the finest party fishing boats ever made. Built without plans or blueprints, each Gillikin boat was unique in size and appearance. As the boatyards changed names, locations and operators, so did some of the designs and styles, but you could always recognize the boats to be Gillikins. A few vessels were built in the early 1970s by longtime Gillikin employee Mervin Rose of Rose Craft, but with their striking similarities and Harkers Island origin, they are still considered to be Gillikin vessels.
The Gillikins operated boatyards that changed names and locations several times throughout the years (due to finances and a few fires.) Here is the timeline of Gillikin boatyards.
Gillikin Brothers Boat Works (1956) Outer Banks Boat Works (1970) Gillikin Boat Works (1959)
Rose Craft (1970) Machine & Supply Co. (1966) Gillikin Craft (1972)
Harkers Island Boat Works(1968) East Bay Boat Works (1973)
These yards were operated or owned by James Gillikin Sr., Vance Gillikin, James Gillikin Jr. and Mervin Rose. They were located at Harkers Island, NC or Beaufort, NC.
After the demand for new party fishing boats dwindled, the Gillikins continued to repair existing vessels and specialized in building custom private vessels at East Bay Boat Works into the next century until Vance Gillikin retired. His sons split the family business into two separate operations. Ricky Gillikin went on to maintain East Bay Boat Works and James Gillikin began operating Gillikin Custom Boats. Sadly, Ricky Gillikin passed away in 2004, but James Gillikin still continues the Gillikin name building private vessels at Gillikin Custom Boats, Harkers Island, NC.
Last October, we posted 40 photos of Gillikin boats and here we are again with Act II and 20 more photos of those beautiful Gillikin Girls!