Getting Ship-shaped: Charter boats sand off the old and get ready for the new

Tina Harbuck
Capt. Mike Eller of the Lady Em sands the bottom of his boat Monday afternoon.

If you’re favorite charter boat is not in it’s slip, it’s probably in dry dock getting in ship-shape for the upcoming fishing season.

More than a half-dozen of Destin’s charters were in dry dock earlier this week at Fisherman’s Boat Yard in Freeport on Hales Lane near Four Mile Creek when The Log dropped by the facility managed by Mike Snell.

Most were there getting their boat bottoms ready for inspection.

“We plan to be here 10 days,” said Capt. Mike Eller of the Lady Em as he walked around with a sander in hand. “We’re getting ready for a hull inspection.”

Although maintenance work on the boat is not Eller’s favorite thing to do, he does like working at the boat yard in Freeport.

“This is the happiest boat yard around,” he said.

“They’re friendly, knowledgeable and they have the tools. You couldn’t ask for any more,” he said.

The boat yard, now in it’s eighth year, is part of the Destin Fisherman’s Coop.

Eller said Destin is the envy of many fleets.

“We have our own fuel docks and and our own boat yard,” he said.

And the charter captains are making good use of the boat yard facilities.

Capt. Jason Mikel, formerly of the Backlash, bought the Finest Kind in November and is doing a lot of work to the boat.

“We’ve been at dry dock a month,” Mikel said.

He said they have done a little bit of everything to the boat from work on the engine, new fuel tank and installing “state of the art electronics.”

Mikel said they are putting a little paint on the bottom this week, as well as putting on the props.

“We’re making it fleet ready,” he said.

Capt. Jason Steele of the Barracuda, has also bought another boat, the Sea Venture. Steele was hard at work on the Sea Venture, a 48-foot wooden boat, Monday afternoon.

“We’re making sure it’s going to be as tight as it needs to be,” Steele said.

“I like ‘em,” he said referring to wood boats. “It just takes somebody willing and able to make repairs.

“You can either itch for three days (working with fiberglass) or brush off (sawdust) and be done,” Steele said.

Steele has been at the boat yard for a week and is looking at couple of more weeks before he’s ready to put the 1968 Sea Venture back in the water.

Other boats spotted at the boat yard were the Starfire, Phoenix and Swoop to name a few.