After leaving their Long Island home in 1947,
Franklin and Ennis Merritt purchased a 10 acre track of land on the Intracoastal
Waterway in Pompano Beach, Florida. In 1948 Merritt Boat and Engine Works was
born. The boatyard was set up primarily to maintain the Merritt's charter boats,
in addition to other charter and drift boats in the area. The yard began
building boats in 1955. The Merritt's sons, Buddy and Allen became involved,
with buddy running the boat building division and Allen overseeing and
administering the business.
Soon after Buddy’s passing in 1971, a third
generation Merritt took over the managing of the boatyard. Roy, the son of Allen
and Millie Merritt had worked in the yard since his early teens. Today Roy
Merritt runs the day-to-day operations at Merritt's.
The 37 Footers
An avid fisherman, Buddy Merritt built what he
perceived to be the perfect fishing boat. The first of his 37-footers were
totally lacking the luxuries taken for granted today. They were built for one
purpose: to raise and catch fish. In all, 13 of these famed 37-footers were
built, and 12 survive to this day (one was lost to fire caused by stray
fireworks while the boat was out of the water in a boat yard).
The Merritt 37 and the Rybovich 36 pioneered a
style that gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s with an open deckhouse (no
bulkhead aft) and a flying bridge. Ryco Marine hull #6 imitated this style in
1991 with its launch of a 38-foot dayboat, Wildcat.
Hull construction was typically strip planked
with 1"x2" Yellow Cedar fastened to Mahogany frames and stringers.
Thirteen 37 Merritts Were
Built from 1955-1967
- Caliban (USCG #276422, Hull
#3) was built in 1955. Her last known name was Merittime, owned by
Merrittime Charters, Inc. Over the years other known names include
Striper, Meltemi, Sweat, Chips, Hooked II,
Papa, Billy B, and Big Bad John.
- Val Jean (USCG #278638, Hull
#4) was built in 1957 for Richard Horvath. It is presently run as a charter
boat named the Do Stay by Capt. Elbert "Elly" Brown in Jupiter,
Florida. The second owner of the boat was a Chevy dealer named Dick Raffo
who named the boat Chevy Won. Prior to Brown's ownership as the
fourth owner, she was known as Patricia and owned by Jim Cullen. When
Elly Brown and wife Viola bought the boat, they renamed her after their two
children: "Do" for Douglas and "Stay" for Stacy. Today, the Do Stay fishes
out of the Seasport Marina on the Jupiter Inlet. In 1984, Capt. Brown signed
up a young New Yorker, Jeff Bicel, as a first mate. He remains aboard the
Do Stay today.
- Windsong (USCG #280634, Hull
#5) was built in 1957 for Tore Hembe. In later years she was known as
Barbara Jo, Caracal, Comparss Rose, Cheetah,
Mistress, Thunder, Sportin' Life, Sassy Lady and
most recently, Old Lady. In November, 2005 she was sold and moved
from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Stuart, Florida to undergo a complete
restoration by Gamefisherman.
- Joan E. (USCG #283725, Hull
#6) was built in 1960 for Ralph Rau. It was later known as Wildcatter
and Infinity before Annali.
- Timid Tuna (USCG #284725,
Hull #7) was built in 1962 for Dale Schaefer. Subsequently she was known as
Drummond, Dorothy D., Lady B., Easy Rider,
Miltwon, Amanda, Lady Jane, Edith Ann and GAF
VII. Her most recent owner was Anthony Pope, a noted member of the
Italian-American community whose family gained notoriety through its
ownership of American Media, publishers of the National Enquirer. While
owned by Pope, GAF VII underwent a massive series of upgrades, beyond
anything ever done to a boat of this small size, at a cost of more than one
million dollars. The installation of enormous 550-horsepower diesel engines
necessitated the installation of auxiliary flotation chines to handle the
- Tuna Teaser (USCG #286170,
Hull #8) was built in 1961 for Art Appleton. She was later known as Born
Free, Sachem, Seaquirt, and most recently Release.
Presently the boat is in Costa Rica.
- Caliban (USCG #287912 Hull
#9) was built in 1962 for Bill Carpenter. In the 80's was bought by Stewart
Campbell and named it "Chunda" Presently the boat is in Venezuela, named
Sangria I and has a pink hull
- Finest Kind (USCG #290114,
Hull #10) was built in 1963 for Dorothea Dean. She was later named
Nefertiti, Ballyhoo, My Way, Jingo, High Roller,
Princess Claudia, Live Wire, Cookie Monster, Jolly
Roger and Bulldog.
- Sunny Bunch (USCG #293145,
Hull #11) was built in 1963 for a Mr. Irwin. Subsequently she was named
Ole, Sea Hub, Recipe, Maverick and most recently,
Northern Lights. Presently she operates as a charter boat in Kona,
Hawaii captained by Kona native Kevin Nakamaru, who is the only captain to
have caught both a 1,000 pound ("grander") Black Marlin and a grander Blue
Marin in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
(USCG #294956, Hull #12) was built in 1964 for Jack Rounick. Today she is
based in Maui, Hawaii as a charter boat named Finest Kind.
Finest Kind is a 3rd generation charter company and has been owner operated
for over 32 years. Finest Kind Sportfishing boasts a record of having caught
the most Marlin on Maui since 1972, and she set the Maui County Record Catch
for a 1,118 lb. Blue Marlin on August 3, 2002.
- Windsong (USCG #503211, Hull
#14) was built in 1965 for Tore Hembe, and was later known as No Problem
- Sandra D. (USCG #507428, Hull
#15) was built in 1967 for Sam Evert. Later she was named Echoes in
the 1980s. She was subsequently owned by Roy & Allen Merritt and named
Caliban, and later Cadence, CBM and most recently,
Rowdy. She is now located in Bristol, Rhode Island.
- Decoy (Hull #16) was built in
1967 for Richard Freydberg. She was subsequently named Jane Ann,
Sea Angler, Renegade, Wild Orange and Lady. She is
located in Hawaii.
Merritt Boat Works