Beck Boats will be a part of the celebration for the St. James City Civic Association later this month as it kicks off its 50th season of being open here on the island.
Navy Capt. Jack Orzalli said the Beck Boat is a basic boat that is powered by a small air-cooled, lawnmower type of engine. Through his research he found that Beck began building his wooden boats at his home on Coco Plum Drive in Matlacha sometime in the 1950s.
"Beck finally told Bob Groshan, who lived a block away on Cajuput Street, that because of his health, he did not think he could finish the boats he already had on order," Orzalli said. "He told Bob that if he would complete the five unfinished boat contracts he had waiting, he would give him the boat building jigs to build his own boat."
1979 B & V Boat Works fiberglass Beck Boat.
Groshan began building the boats in his yard, which his wife Violet became tired of due to the mess and the fishermen who were in her yard. She purchased a piece of property on Stringfellow Road on Pine Island where her husband could build the boats, which was named B and V Boat Works once the building was built. Carl's Auto Service now occupies that building.
Orzalli said Groshan sold his business in the early 1970s to Mr. Groth, who continued to build the boats with his three sons.
"I am not sure when the fiberglass versions began, but the earliest fiberglass Beck Boat I know of is a 1979 model belonging to Kurt Hoover," he said, who is a Matlacha resident.
If You Go
What: Big Breakfast & Beck Boat Rally
When: Jan. 26, 8 a.m. until noon
Where: St. James City Civic Association
Most of the Beck Boats found now are fiberglass instead of wooden. They are about 15 feet 6 inches long with a beam of 66 inches.
"If you see one out on the water today, it is most likely a molded fiberglass hull that replicates the original wood boat lines," Orzalli said. "The only wood ones I know of are being used as planters or decorations."
The Beck Boat Rally, which is organized by Orzalli, will be held Saturday, Jan. 26, from 10 a.m. until noon, at the St. James City Civic Association.
"I have personally witnessed the high interest these boats generate for Pine Islanders," St. James City Civic Association President Sharon Astle said. "Two of our highest attended events in the six years I've served on the St. James City Civic Association board were Capt. Jack's Beck Boat speaker's program and later the first Beck Boat Rally he organized."
A big all-you-can-eat breakfast will kick off the festivities from 8-10 a.m. for $6.
In addition, the St. James City Civic Association rummage, flea market and Hobby Club vendor tables will be set up from 8 a.m. until noon.
Island Frank Tuma will provide entertainment during the sale.
Those who are interested in being a Pine Island vintage vehicle owner vendor can call John Nyhus after Jan. 20 at 283-9306. Individuals who have rummage sale items they would like to donate to the cause can call Ann at 283-7530.