New boat on the block: The Skate-15 the latest Howard Street maritime innovation

Jake Beattie Maritime Focus
Posted 8/21/18

Not all of our community’s maritime stories lay inside the foment of the Port of Port Townsend.

From world-serving local foundries to exotic wood suppliers, the ecosystem of small firms that …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

New boat on the block: The Skate-15 the latest Howard Street maritime innovation

Posted

Not all of our community’s maritime stories lay inside the foment of the Port of Port Townsend.

From world-serving local foundries to exotic wood suppliers, the ecosystem of small firms that make up our maritime economy are by in large one or two stone’s throws from Boat Haven’s water’s edge. Throw a rock up to Howard Street and you’d be likely to hit one of a few maritime businesses, at least two of which have collaborated on a new Port Townsend boat design that is teed up for production. The Skate 15: a 15 foot, high performance racer-cruiser that is prototyped, slated for exhibit at the Wooden Boat Festival, and already taking orders. Port Townsend innovation on a micro scale. It’s green, fast, sleeps two, and looks like someone threw a little extra yeast into a classic racing dinghy design.

Skate is a collaboration of Josh Colvin and Brandon Davis, respectively the owners of Small Craft Advisor Magazine/Duckworks Boat Supply and Turn Point Designs, all based in Port Townsend’s Howard Street business park. It’s not their first collaboration on a boat design, nine years ago Colvin pioneered the development of Scamp; a 12 foot camp cruiser. Scamp was the manifestation of Colvin’s a vision of a small, trailerable sailboat for sailing and camping, modest in size but designed to get individuals and families safely on the water in a relatively affordable fashion; DIY for the build, driveway for the moorage. At this point over 200 Scamps have been built worldwide, with another 300 in some phase of construction.

“A few years back I used to say that there were more Scamps in production than any other design in the world,” Colvin offered with a smile and a modicum of confidence that it might even be true.

The Skate is of similar in origins to the Scamp. It started with imagining what a small version of big race boats might mean for the rest of us, then finding a way to harness Port Townsend’s collective wherewithal to bring it into fruition.

The Skate draws on the same concentration of talent that brought both collaborators to Port Townsend in the first place. Colvin relocated here with his business and family 14 years ago, Davis did the same in 2007. Both came for the same reason: Port Townsend has a concentration of talent and effort. “Doing this project in Port Townsend today is like playing trumpet in 1930s New Orleans,” Colvin said.

He admits that boats aren’t Jazz, and demurs that he’s the maritime Louis Armstrong in the analogy, but contends that it’s the community of craftsmen and women that is critical to their success.

“With both of these designs, there were countless times when it was improved by world renowned sailmakers, or shipwrights, or designers who would walk past and say: ‘You know what I think would work …’ and the idea got immeasurably better.”

By Colvin’s own estimation, 80 percent of the creativity went into these designs was offered in casual conversation over the back-half of a cup of coffee.

“This town is incredible. My first interactions with Brandon was swapping design thoughts while he was in New Zealand making parts for Team Oracle’s America’s Cup bid.”

It’s true. Davis was flown down under to run the CNC machines to shape critical parts for the winning 2010 America’s Cup campaign, and in his spare time was developing the definitive 12-foot cruising sailboat.

Like the Scamp, the story of the Skate is the story of the depth and breadth of our maritime industry. The bleeding edge of our innovation is a product of our traditions as much as our ability to think forward. Best of luck to the Skate, and the countless advisors that made the project possible. To examine the latest product of their collective work, the Skate will be on display at this year’s Wooden Boat Festival Sept. 7-9.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment