Big splash for good Tiverton skiff Tiger


Its Tiverton High School builders had been working on it for many months so it was only fitting that the good skiff Tiger get the full yacht treatment on launch day.

After speeches, the 16-footer was hoisted into the air last Tuesday by Pirate Cove Marina's (Tiverton branch) massive travel-lift. A bottle of bubbly (sparkling cider) was poured over the bow and the boat was lowered into Sakonnet Basin.

"After all that, I was really nervous, said Bill Phillips, the THS teacher who has now overseen the contraction of six skiffs by student builders. "But it went into the water and not a drop leaked in — a wonderful sight."

Senior Adam DeMoranville, who has worked on boat projects during all four years at THS, agreed.

"It's amazing to see a bunch of raw materials, a pile of plywood and lumber, turn into a beautiful flat-bottom skiff, something that's going to make somebody very happy."

For Adam, the experience has led to a possible career. He is enrolled in next fall's marine systems program at the International Yacht Restoration School's Bristol campus. The THS course, he said opened his eyes to "how really big the marine trades are in Rhode Island."

Pirate Cove's Brandon Kidd, who hosted the launch and bought the boat, said it is a beauty.

With flat bottom and beam of close to six feet, "it'll be great for us, good and stable. Just what we need." Similar boats were used a couple of centuries ago by shellfishermen.

Mr. Phillips was his football coach back when he went to Tiverton High School and he, too, took the school's woodworking class — "back then we made clocks and things.

"When we expanded to Tiverton from our Portsmouth marina last year, I reached out to see what we could do to help the school and young people who want to get into this business … We always hear that the river divides Portsmouth and Tiverton. We've learned in this business that it connects the two towns."

Mr. Phillips judged this skiff the best yet.

"We learn each year" ways to improve upon the traditional work skiffs. For instance they took a 10.5-foot miniature version of their skiff up to the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) show over the winter. The boat received high praise — and a few suggestions from the experts.

One such idea was to beef up the transom to better handle the outboard motors that will power the boat. As a result, Tiger's transom boasts three laminated sheets of marine plywood and epoxy.

As with past skiffs, the floor and transom are marine plywood, the ribs are white oak and the sides are northern white pine planks. Screws are stainless steel and other hardware is galvanized. The paint scheme mirrors the blue and white of the Pirate Cove Marina logo.

Next year, "we're going to step it up a bit" and build an 18-footer for the first time — "a bit bigger, a new challenge."

From a few student builders in the first year, the program has grown in popularity. This year's crew numbered 32 students —juniors and seniors.

"The way it now works is that the seniors, who have a year of experience with the previous year's boat, help the juniors who are doing this for the first time." Mr. Phillips said it is gratifying to see the seniors pass on what they've learned — "they become good teachers."

And he said the program has become closely associated with RIMTA, giving students ("and me") access to support from state-of-the-art boat companies close to home.

"We've visited several of them — New England Boatworks (Portsmouth), Hall Spars (Bristol) and gotten the full tour. Amazing facilities."

Also gratifying is the fact that a growing number of his skiff builders are moving on to careers in the industry. Some are now students and grads of the International Yacht Restoration School (Newport sand Bristol) and others have landed work at places including Pirate Cove.


The builders ...

This year's THS boatbuilders are: Aidan Bradley, Devon Caban, Mike Cabral, Chris Costanza, Cole Criollos, Mike F. Pacheco, Mike A. Pacheco, Alex Pavao, Nate Boone, Sam Cabral, Will Connolly, Mason Costa, Shane Ferreira, Joey Giguere, Nick Jennings, Jack McKinnon, Alex Moniz, Jessica Perreira, Sophie Peterson, Kellan Redden, Graham Williams, Ryan Costa, Shayn Gendreau, Nathan Six, Alex Souza, Cody Tripp, Ash Chamseddine, Chris Shouse, Logan Cote, Alec Figueiredo, Drew Watts.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.