Huckins Yacht Corporation

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Huckins Yacht Corporation is one of the oldest boat builders in the United States. The company is located on the Ortega River in Jacksonville, Florida, and is run by its third-generation owners, Cindy and Buddy Purcell. Huckins manufactures custom yachts ranging from 40 to 90 feet that combine classic design and traditional workmanship with modern technology and amenities. It has built a total of 457 yachts during its 80 years of operation, crafting vessels one at a time.

Huckins Yacht Corporation hosts an annual Rendezvous[1] which provides an opportunity for Huckins owners to gather together and share their boating experiences.


Maiden voyage of the Fairform Flyer. Frank Huckins, founder of Huckins Yacht Corporation, is seated on the right with a pipe.

Frank Pembroke Huckins came from a family that had been in the lumber business in Maine ever since his grandfather Pembroke Somerset Huckins, and his great-grandfather John Huckins, of Bangor, founded the P. S. Huckins Company in 1854.[2]

The Boston concern dealt in ship timbers and planking during the years prior to the rise of iron- and then steel-hulled ships. After the Civil War, wooden shipbuilding waned and a new demand arose for factory timbers. The Huckins company adapted itself to the new field with a stock of suitable southern yellow pine timber and plank.

Frank Pembroke Huckins, the fourth generation scion, left Harvard college in his junior year and went to work in the "Marine Gasolene (sic) Engine Business". In December, 1908, he went to work for P.S. Huckins Company, where he became the tally-man and surveyor in the company's lumber yard.[3] All of the yellow pine timber sold by the Huckins family business was shipped in schooners from Jacksonville and Fernandina to East Boston.[4] Huckins was made assistant treasurer of the company in 1911, and president in 1912.[5]

Huckins sold the P.S. Huckins Company in 1923[6] and moved to Jacksonville in 1924. In 1926 he became a partner in the Drayer–Warren Company, an architectural millwork firm supplying materials for the construction boom in Florida, and the name was changed to the Warren–Huckins Company.[7] In 1928,[8] Warren–Huckins was reincorporated as the Huckins Yacht Corporation by Huckins, Harold l. Perrin of Boston, and Henry Skinner Baldwin of Springfield.[9] A slogan used by the former company, "Florida Fairform Finish", inspired the new firm's yacht brand name, "Fairform Flyer".[10][11]

Huckins hired Florida boat builder Herschel B. Ward as foreman, and construction of the Fairform Flyer Hull No. 1 began in April, 1928. Around this time, his partner Ling Warren decided that he wanted out of the yacht building business, and Huckins bought him out.[12] The Fairform Flyer 42’ Express Cruiser was launched in July 1928, captained by Huckins himself on its maiden voyage from Fernandina, Florida to New York City. It was sold in the autumn for $15,000 to David M. Goodrich of the B.F. Goodrich Rubber Company, who became a repeat customer. A company booth at the 1929 New York Boat Show took six orders for yachts, and to expedite the work Huckins used modular construction.

The onset of the Great Depression motivated Huckins to build smaller boat designs and to seek more efficient construction methods for larger vessels, such as mounting engines on I-beams supported by the engine room bulkheads, and using belt driven V-drive propulsion systems.[13]

In 1943 the U.S. Navy commissioned Huckins Yacht Corporation to build two squadrons of PT boats, a total of 18 boats for service during World War II.

John F. Kennedy was in command of a Huckins-built vessel, PT-101, when he served as an instructor at the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center in Melville, Rhode Island,. He also delivered PT boats from Melville, Rhode Island to Jacksonville and then to the breaking-in center in Miami.[14]

In 1969, Huckins built the largest sportfishing yacht in the United States, measuring 80 feet in length.

In 1976, Huckins Yacht Corporation constructed the largest motor yacht in the United States, built with an Airex-cored fiberglass hull.

In 1986, Huckins built a specialty 78-foot Sport Cruising yacht, which included wide doors and an elevator, designed for an owner confined to a wheel chair.

The oldest existing boat built by Huckins Yacht Corporation, the 1931 Offshore 48’ Avocette III,[15][16] was honored in July 2008 by the Museum of Yachting.

Original boat designs are still available at Huckins Yacht Corporation as it continues to build fine custom yachts. The complete history of the company can be found in the book, Huckins: The Living Legacy, by Andreé Conrad and Anders Jonsson.

PT Boats[edit]

USS PT-96, built by Huckins at Jacksonville, Florida, underway at high speed, circa 1942

Huckins Yacht Corporation built PT boats for two squadrons during World War II. In 1940, three governing bodies – the Bureau of Ships, the Board of Inspection and Survey, and the Navy Personnel Command – had agreed that all PT boats developed up to that time were defective. Confident he had a solution, Frank Pembroke Huckins utilized his company's own "Quadraconic" Hull to build a boat that met the Navy’s PT boat guidelines. The Quadraconic design, supported by 15 years of in-house research and experimentation, was developed using a conic method worked out by Lindsay Lord,[17][18] and resulted in slightly concave bottom sections and a sharp bow entry.[19] The Huckins PT 69 was compared to those being constructed by Elco, Higgins and the Philadelphia Navy Yard in a series of comparative performance tests conducted by the Board of Inspection and Survey[20] off New London, Connecticut in July 1941, known as the "Plywood Derby". The tests allowed boats of various classes from the three manufacturers to demonstrate their seakeeping qualities and hull strength by making a run at maximum sustained speed in the open ocean. Accelerometers were installed in the pilot house of each design to record "pounding" of the hull against the water in like sea conditions. The seaway course of the open-water trial, 190 nmi (350 km; 220 mi) at full throttle, started from the mouth of New London Harbor and finished at Montauk Point Whistling Buoy.[20]

The Elco and Huckins boats made the best showing; although the Huckins edged the Elco 77-footer in speed (41.5 versus 40.2 knots), turning circle (305 yards in diameter compared to 407 yards) and pounding factor (the Elco pounded 60% more than the Huckins),[citation needed] Elco took first place, and was awarded a contract to build 385 boats.[21]

Huckins won its design contract in 1941, just when the Navy was ready to scrap the PT program, and licensed the use of the Quadraconic hull in PT boat construction.[citation needed] They also granted permission for Elco, Higgins and the Philadelphia Navy Yard to use their patented laminated keel, which increased hull strength. A total of 18[22] 78-foot (24 m) boats for squadrons 14 and 26 were commissioned in early 1943.[14] They were assigned to specific outposts in the Panama Canal, Miami, Florida, the Hawaiian Sea Frontier at Pearl Harbor, in the Central Pacific, and a training center in Melville, Rhode Island.

The Huckins patrol torpedo boat platform was designed to handle four torpedoes, two 50-caliber gun turrets and depth charges on the stern. The Huckins boats were generally well-regarded by the sailors who manned them. They had relatively high freeboard, with good headroom below the decks. A man could stand in the engine room,, so engineers had plenty of space to work. Sleeping quarters on the Huckins PT vessels were considered to be comfortable by their captains and crews, who called them "the yachts".

Technical specifications[edit]

Lindsay Lord, a commander in the United States Navy who was stationed in Hawaii during the war, examines wartime PT boat design in his "Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls" and records the Navy's planing hull research and findings. This is the most complete source of information on PT boat hull design and construction, and provides hull test data as well as detailed analysis and comparisons of the various PT boat designs.

U.S. Navy Technical Specifications of the Huckins PT Boat (Patrol Torpedo) Motorized Torpedo Fast Boat:

Crew: 11

Length: 78 ft (23.77 m) Beam: 19.6 ft (5.97 m) Draught: 5 ft (1.52 m) Displacement: 42 tons

Machinery: 3 x Packard 12-cylinder gasoline engines delivering 1,350 horsepower each to 3 x shafts.

Surface Speed: 40 kn (46 mph) Range: 0 miles (0 km)

Armament: 4 x 21-inch (533mm) torpedo tubes for 4 x Mark 8/13 torpedoes, launchers arranged as inline pairs along port and starboard sides. 1 x 37mm OR BOFORS 40mm Dual-Purpose cannon fitted on forecastle. 1 x 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannon at stern 4 x 0.50 caliber (12.7mm) anti-aircraft, air-cooled heavy machine guns in dual mounts (2x2), one emplacement amidships and one forward, offset to starboard.

Optional 0.30 caliber machine guns, mortar launchers, rocket projectors and additional 20mm cannons (and captured 23mm anti-tank guns) as required/available.

Ship Class: PT 95 Number-in-Class: 18 Ships-in-Class: PT 95-102; PT 255-264

Initial Year of Service: 1942[23]


  1. ^ Susanna P. Barton (September 30, 1996). "Huckins Yacht to roll out new design". Jacksonville Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  2. ^ John W. Long (1927). "The New York Lumber Trade Journal". The New York Lumber Trade Journal. 82: 31.
  3. ^ Harvard College (1780– ) Class of 1909 (1915). Sexennial Report. Sexennial Report Committee. pp. 158–159.
  4. ^ The Woodenboat. J. J. Wilson. 1984. p. 48.
  5. ^ The Disston Crucible, a Magazine for the Millman. 1916. p. 167.
  6. ^ "Nautical Quarterly". 27. Nautical Quarterly. 1984: 39. ISSN 0199-0837. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Nautical Quarterly". 27. Nautical Quarterly. 1984: 39. ISSN 0199-0837. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "The Woodenboat" (56–61). J. J. Wilson. 1984: 49. ISSN 0095-067X. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Ray Teller (July 1951). "Huck as We Knew Him". Motor Boating Magazine. 88 (1): 101. ISSN 1531-2623.
  10. ^ Dennis Caprio (September 1995). "Design: Huckins 44". Yachting. 178 (3): 44. ISSN 0043-9940.
  11. ^ "American Lumberman". American Lumberman. 1927: 102. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ The Woodenboat. J. J. Wilson. 1984. p. 49.
  13. ^ Jay Coyle (December 22, 2011). "In Fair Form: Huckins Yacht". Yachting Magazine. Bonnier Boating, Aviation & Water Sports Group.
  14. ^ a b T. Garth Connelly (2010). U.S. Patrol Torpedo Boats in World War II, 1939-1945. Nimble Books LLC. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-60888-013-3.
  15. ^ "Huckins Northeast Rendezvous 2009". IYRS Summer 2009 Restoration Quarterly. No. 20. International Yacht Restoration School. Summer 2009. p. 13. Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  16. ^ "MotorBoating". Motor Boating (New York, N.Y. 2000): 32. October 1932. ISSN 1531-2623.
  17. ^ Capt. Bill Brogdon (March 1988). "The Man Who Wrote the Book". Boating Magazine. New York, N.Y.: 68–70. ISSN 0006-5374.
  18. ^ Lindsay Lord (August 1967). "The Lines That Launched a Thousand Ships". Boating Magazine. 22 (2): 30. ISSN 0006-5374.
  19. ^ Lindsay Lord (1946). Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls. Cornell Maritime Press. p. 63.
  20. ^ a b Board of Inspection and Survey,Report of Comparative Services Tests of Motor Torpedo Boats Held July 21–24, 1941 and August 11–12, 1941 at New London, Connecticut (Navy Department, August 14, 1941)
  21. ^ Gordon L. Rottman (23 September 2008). US Patrol Torpedo Boats: World War II. Osprey Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-84603-227-1.
  22. ^ James M. Morris; Patricia M. Kearns (1 April 2011). Historical Dictionary of the United States Navy. Scarecrow Press. p. 340. ISBN 978-0-8108-7479-4.
  23. ^ Staff writer (December 21, 2011). "Huckins PT Boat (Patrol Torpedo) Motorized Torpedo Fast Boat (1942)". Military Factory Reference Website. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2016.

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