Wooden Boat Builder Studies Biloxi Skiff - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Wooden Boat Builder Studies Biloxi Skiff

One of the country's premier wooden boat builders is re creating a "Biloxi skiff."

Dana Asa Wright is a longtime boat builder and owner of the "Maritime Art Studio" in New Orleans. His latest project involves drawing detailed plans for a wooden boat that was once the backbone of the coast seafood industry.

Wright is relying on old fashioned skills to update this historic wooden boat.

"I'm going to re-create the plan exactly the way it would have been done by a serious plan maker of the 1800s," Dana Asa Wright said as he measured the length of a skiff at the Biloxi Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum.

Wright recognizes the detailed craftsmanship in the110-year-old Biloxi skiff.

"Let's get an overall dimension on the boat."

His latest project involves taking a series of specific measurements and creating the plans to build a new skiff.

"You know, I grew up in St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana and built my first boat when I was around 14 years old. And my wife's from Greenwich, Conn., where they have the Mystic Seaport Museum. We went up and visited the seaport museum and that's when I realized that boats have historic value."

A century ago, Biloxi skiffs could be seen working the waters of the Mississippi Sound.

"These are some of the old skiffs they used to tong oysters with. They were pulled behind other boats, they were rowed, they were fished out of. And we're really excited that he will be making small models out of the actual skiff and we will have them on sale here at the gift shop in the museum," museum director Robin Krohn said.

Boat builders have their own way of measuring a craft. The most detailed measurements are broken down into something called "lines."

"In the boat measuring system, the inches are divided into eight parts. They call the eight parts marks or lines, the increments in between these inches, just plain lines," the boat builder said.

Wright enjoys this process of preserving maritime history. Once finished, he'll create small model Biloxi skiffs, plus have the plans for building a full sized craft, if anyone cares to take on such a project.

Wright has worked with the Biloxi Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum before. Models of his Louisiana pirouges are sold in the museum gift shop.

By Steve Phillips

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