Matt Hoover (http://www.nightflightcharters.com) likens his original Slo-Poke 15′, named Pinocchio, to a Fully restored 55 Chevy but on water. We agree 110%!! Even when fully loaded, Pinocchio drafts a mere 5″ of water and will haul A*S at 35 MPH. Pinocchio was made from a mold popped off of one of the only existing 15 foot Willy Roberts boats. It is a true piece of skiff history. Read the full story here.
Here is a breakdown of the rehab project and finished results for your viewing pleasure.
Pinocchio – By Matt Hoover, www.nightflightcharters.com
The first time that my buddy Capt. Stacy Mullendore and I saw this skiff was when it was hanging from a boat lift down in Port Royal, Naples. To make a long story short, we wound up acquiring it about three years later in 1996. It was in fair condition at the time. It had an old long shaft 25 horse motor on it that I later sold for $600.
We stripped the boat down to bare bones and did body work on it and I painted it with PPG Concepts paint. It was Emerald Green and Tan. The logo’s were replicated at a vinyl shop. We had a custom poling platform built and put on a new Mariner 40 horse motor with trim and tilt.
In the next year, we found out the boats history. I know and have fished with Steve Huff over the years. He told me that Willy Roberts had made three 15 foot Willy Roberts boats. Two of them faded away and the last one was owned by Billy Knowles. Willy Roberts built perhaps the most influential skiff of the time. He had his shop inTavernier. His main boats were either 20 feet or 17 feet. He was known to build whatever you want. His early skiffs were made of marine plywood, but he eventually started making them out of fiberglass. His boats are beautiful with the classic Carolina lines. Most of the Keys guides of the day had to have a Willy. That particular profile is missing from today’s skiff because they do grab the wind. I do love the lines though. You can buy new Willy Roberts boats now out of Miami.
Steve Huff and others got Billy to take that boat to Freddy Archibald in Homosassa. Billy owned and operated Green Heron Boat works. He is of the ShiPoke skiff fame which was another Steve Huff collaboration. They built a mold and made 10 of the hulls. Two of those boats were sold to Jack Nicklaus as tenders for his yacht. Our hull was vacuum bagged with Klegacell and S class series glass. It was a modern process with modern materials for the time.
We have used the boat for almost 15 years. We were one of the few in our area to start using two different boats for shallow water fishing. There just weren’t that many technical poling skiffs at the time. I liken our boat to a restored 55 Chevy if you will.
Last year, we decided that the paint was tired, the floorboard was loose and there neede to be a few tweeks that we didn’t do quite right at the time. We used PPG Concepts again and took the boat down to nothing and redid it from scratch. The paint cost almost twice as much as the first time around! It turned out beautiful once again and is solid as a rock.
Pinocchio will float in an honest 4 to 5 inches and has put many fish over the side via fly rod. It is a real ride when you hook a big tarpon as well. Pinocchio has served us well over the years. I hope to continue to enjoy him some more.
Nice boat. I wanted to correct one item in the story, though. Fred Archibald, not Billy Knowles, was the owner of Green Heron Boat Works. Fred’s original product was the ShiPoke, which I believe he created from a modified Sidewinder hull. Later he popped a hull mold off of the Willie Roberts boat that became the SloPoke. Billy Knowles was a Keys guide and a buddy of Fred’s. Nice guy. He was always fun to be around. I was just a teenager working for Fred when his shop was in St. Petersburg, Fla. Billy and Fred and variety of other characters always kept me entertained. I was there when we finished the SloPoke hull mold — many days of wet sanding — and designed the cockpit. I went with Fred down to a large boat builder in Fort Lauderdale to learn how to use Klegacell, which was a PVC foam. The Klegacell and S-glass made a remarkably strong deck. Glad some of the old boats are still in use.