Jim Ferriss has been a shipwright since 2002 when he decided to merge his love of classic boats with his years of professional woodworking. Jim began his woodworking career in 1990 as a cabinet maker and custom furniture builder.
“An old time boat surveyor explained that a wooden boat is built like an exquisite piece of furniture” Jim said. The surveyor encouraged Jim to look for work in a boat yard. “As a furniture maker, you have the skills” he said, “you just need the experience.”
This led to employment at Jensen Motor Boat – one of Seattle’s oldest and most respected boat yards where boats built at the yard in the 1940’s and 1950’s, still come for repairs and maintenance. This is where he learned the specialized art of wood boat repair and earned the title ‘Shipwright’.
In the autumn of 2007 Jim started his own business and became an independent shipwright – Classic Wooden Boat Shipwright LLC was born. “As an independent I’m able to work directly with the boat owner – this results in a closer relationship than is possible as a boat yard employee.”
A result of one such relationship was a conversation with the owner of a 1961 Chris-Craft Constellation who was desperate to find a solution to the leaky hatch over the V-berth. He asked Jim if he could find a replacement for the original gasket seal which was old and brittle and didn’t keep the water on the outside of the boat. After an extensive search it was obvious that, althought many reproduction parts are made for vintage Chris-Craft boats, the gasket for the hatch was not available.
A quick look up and down the dock revealed 4 other Chris-Craft boats – each with one or 2 hatches. Conversations with these boat owners showed that because no new gasket is available, each boat owner is left to create his own home made solution: with varying degrees of success. Everyone has expressed enthusiasm for a true replacement gasket for their beloved old boat and convinced Jim that there is a market for a working solution.
Jim began a lenghty period of trial and error using the 1961 Constellation as a field test subject, many thanks to the patient owners, which resulted in a re-usable mold.
The new gasket is made from a two-component liquid rubber that is measured, mixed and poured into the mold. When the rubber is cured, the mold is cleaned and reassembled – ready to make another gasket. Softer and more “squish-able” than the original factory item, each gasket is tough, durable, and will create a perfect solution to leaky hatches.