An Outer Banks Boatbuilding Tour

Privileged access to North Carolina’s storied sport-fishing history

marlin statue by water fountains
An obligatory welcome to the Outer Banks from Pirates Cove’s blue marlin fountain.Capt. Jen Copeland

Having an opportunity to talk shop with some of the nicest folks in the world — in one of the prettiest places on earth — always has me saying yes for a visit to Roanoke Island, North Carolina. Not only is Dare County the birthplace of the famed Carolina flare, it is also home to a collection of shipwrights who continue to push the limits in boatbuilding in terms of size, speed and beauty. Young or old, if you are a fan of the custom Carolina hull, then this gallery is worth a look.

starboard hull of a yacht in water
No color is off limits: This hull proves that boats can be pretty in pink.Capt. Jen Copeland
exterior view of a yacht building factory
The authentic Outer Banks builder's barn of Scarborough Boatworks.Capt. Jen Copeland
yacht hull plans drafts hanging on a wall
The renderings of a hull in progress keeps everyone on track during the complicated build.Capt. Jen Copeland
worker and scaffolding around an under-construction yacht hull
Three hundred and sixty-degree scaffolding allows the builder around-the-clock access to the project, eliminating down time.Capt. Jen Copeland
workshop interior at boat building factory
In the starter barn down the street, Scarborough’s carpenters have their own space to make the magic happen.Capt. Jen Copeland
yacht hull under construction
This Scarborough hull is resting snugly on the jig. Another few months and it will be turned over and transported to another barn where it will be finished enough to be put in the water.Capt. Jen Copeland
side angle view of yacht hull under construction
Next stop: Just down the road, the sweeping stem of a new Ritchie Howell boat in progress.Capt. Jen Copeland
close up of yacht hull under construction
Howell is another custom builder utilizing the variable deadrise bottom.Capt. Jen Copeland
interior view of yacht hull under construction
One of the bulkheads is fitted and faired in this 61-footer.Capt. Jen Copeland
front view of a yacht hull under construction
Bayliss Boatworks’ Hull No.23, a 75-footer, sits in the bay next to the main entrance.Capt. Jen Copeland
yacht mezzanine under construction
The boat's teak cockpit bulkhead. Even unfinished, its beauty is mesmerizing.Capt. Jen Copeland
yacht panel under construction
Bayliss is experimenting with the flush-mount forward deck hatch, which would be a welcome innovation.Capt. Jen Copeland
yacht interior panel with glossy finish
This exquisite teak and burl tray will be placed over a galley bar, mirroring the space.Capt. Jen Copeland
two yacht deck roofs under construction
Two bridge components are made well in advance of their hull’s completion to allow for maximum sun-cure time.Capt. Jen Copeland
yacht hull under construction
At Sunny Brigg’s shop, this 63-footer shows the many layers of the cap and toe rail makings.Capt. Jen Copeland
yacht interior under construction
The engine bed of this Sunny Briggs is almost ready for her new CAT engines.Capt. Jen Copeland
city side street lost colony brewery cafe
The Manteo, North Carolina, waterfront is tucked away on the Roanoke Sound and makes for a wonderful stop for lunch.Capt. Jen Copeland
fully assembled yacht in dry docks
Blue Eagle sits outside, in the final stages prior to delivery at Spencer Yachts.Capt. Jen Copeland
wooden yacht counters under construction
The build’s owner opted for a full bar in lieu of a dinette adjacent of the galley.Capt. Jen Copeland
wooden plank hanging from wires
A teak cabinet door hangs in the environmentally-sealed varnish room.Capt. Jen Copeland