Old school

June 1, 2008 by John - 2 Comments

As part of the epic Get John’s Damn Skiff Working Again Project, I recently purchased a used trailer from a buddy of mine. When I went to pick it up, sitting atop it was an old red ’77 Maverick skiff (model #2). Got me interested in its history, and (with the caveat that this is second-hand info) this is what I discovered:

In the ’60s, when Bob Hewes was building trend-setting skiffs in the Miami area with input from guys like Stearns, Kreh and Curtis, a local angler named George Von Schroeder was looking to build his own boat. He liked the design of a Fathom racing hull built by friend and boat-racer Wally Cole Jr. (on which was hung a 454 V8), and he had Cole build him several modified skiffs for flats fishing. Jimmy Buffett bought the second one of these ever built. Miami ophthalmologist Lenny Berg, swayed by the opinions of anglers like Stu Apte and Woody Sexton, bought one for himself. It was reportedly the smoothest riding skiff of the day, likely due to its relatively heavy hull. Berg bought the mold to “sell a couple of boats to recoup my costs and pay for my own”, and ended up selling about 60 of them during the mid to late 70s. So the boat in my garage is one of the only 60 or so Berg sold, its inspired design tweaked by the likes of Flip Pallot, Stu Apte and tool and die-maker Les Stratton. The company shut down in the early 80s, and soon thereafter current Maverick prez Scott Deal (then a very young guy) purchased the mold and started marketing the boats to a broader audience…successfully, it seems, given the fact that the Maverick Boat Company is now the largest producer of flats boats in the world.

Anyhoo, I’m trying to sell the skiff for my friend, who has moved back to Texas. Cool to think that the heavy old boat under my house has such a colorful past. Her glory days are behind her – and she looks it – but it’ll be nice to see someone with the time and talent spruce her up again. She’s a link back to a golden age of shallow-water angling, and there’s something profound in her simple lines and scuffed-up deck.