At 106, Capt. Curt Whiticar ranks as the “dean of custom boatbuilding.” He was born in New Jersey, where his father, “Capt. Add,” worked as a charter boat fisherman in the summer and an oysterman in the winter. Tired of his winter job and the freezing cold, Capt. Add moved his family to Stuart, Florida, when Curt was six. He and his two brothers grew up spending their summers on the Delaware Bay and winters on the St. Lucie River.
In 1921, Curt pooled his profits from delivering newspapers and painting names on boat hulls to build a 14-foot skiff of his own design. It would be his first of many, as he went on to become the founder of Whiticar Boat Works. By 1931, he had designed and built six boats on his own. At the age of 23, he designed and built a 33-foot single-screw boat called Shearwater. This fishing boat, with a design based on local inlet problems and demanding fishing needs, is the backbone to the design of the modern Whiticar sport-fisherman of today. Curt would go on to build boats for his father and brothers, which the four of them captained for many years as the popular Whiticar Fleet of charter boats in Stuart, Florida.
Curt and his family were heavily involved in the founding of the Stuart Sailfish Club. In the late 1940s, many sailfish were being brought to the docks instead of being released. It was Curt who suggested, and later designed an impressive button that would be given by the Club to those who released their fish. Although he retired from boatbuilding full time in 1986, Whiticar Boat Works stays in the family with Curt’s nephew, Jim Dragseth, and his son, John, serving as president and vice president, respectively. Since his retirement, Curt has focused on his love of painting and has completed over 1,800 canvases to date.