Shipbuilding far from shore

A love of saltwater and fishing drives captain to build boats
Mar. 11, 2014 @ 07:18 PM

WARREN COUNTY – A boat that was born in the piney woods of Warren County will be launched in waters of Oregon Inlet later this spring.

It’s the handiwork of Brian White, who grew up in Henderson but soon adopted a life around salt water, boats and fishermen.

When he’s not at his home in Warren County, White operates Wave Runner Sport Fishing Charters out of Oregon Inlet Fishing Center at Nags Head.

The boat he’s building is 63 feet long and 16 feet wide. It took shape in a huge barn next to his house at the end of Beaman Hunt Road, about halfway between Parktown and Lickskillet in the southern part of the county.

The innermost part of the boat was formed out of heart of pine and juniper, White said. The exterior is fiberglass over plywood.

He and Dennis Gower have been at work on this vessel for 18 months. White figures it will take a couple more months to finish it, once he gets it to Oregon Inlet.

That work will include installing the bridge, which will be added after the trip to the coast. Otherwise, the boat would be too tall to fit beneath underpasses. And the motor, shaft, electrical system and appliance must still to be installed.

On Tuesday, White began the process of towing the boat out of the barn and hoisting it onto a trailer before making the trek east. Providing help with this part of the job was Luke Meekins of Surf Side Services and Towing of Wanchese, N.C.

After graduating from Vance High School, White, 43, moved to Hatteras, where he worked for several captains and later became a captain before starting his own charter business.

He takes fishing parties and family groups 40 miles out to the Gulf Stream to try their luck with tuna, dolphins, marlins and the like.

He also builds and sells charter boats.

He learned that part of the boating trade by working with a builder.

“He put me on as a helper,” White said.

That experience allowed him to learn boats literally from the inside out.

But later he decided he wanted to do things differently and struck out on his own.

“I wanted to build one my way,” he said.

Even so, several people said White wouldn’t be able to handle building boats himself.

“A bunch of boat builders come up there and have lunch with us,” he said. “They said me and Dennis aren’t smart enough to build a boat, but we proved them different.”

His current model is the fifth — and the largest — he has built.

When Gower isn’t building boats with Wilson, he frames houses.

“He built this house for me,” White said.

White has a 6-year-old son, Fisher, who is in kindergarten at Hobgood Academy. It’s not surprising helping his father build this new boat has led Fisher to declare that he wants to be a Coast Guard captain when he grows up.

White’s parents are T.L. and Yvonne White. They own T.L.’s Family Restaurant in Manteo. His grandfather was Kenneth Fields of Henderson.

As the new boat was inched out of the barn behind the tow truck, White said, “I wish my pa-pa was here to see it.”


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