Trinity Bight Bully Boat

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“When you went out in the morning, you would have the motor going and sails on her to get going as fast as you could. Because there was other fellas at it and if you wanted to get the best spot, you’d have to get there as fast as you could get there.”

Lance 1-1
Lance using a sculling oar in his bully boat

Locally known as a “bully boat,” this style of boat was common from Smith Sound to Trinity Bight for use with handline and trawl into the 1970s. Built in Ireland’s Eye, New Bonaventure and elsewhere in this area, these boats were distinguishable by their washboard gunwales.

In 2000, Lance Short was reunited with a bully boat from his years fishing with Mr. Sidney Miller when he took on the task of rebuilding her. Originally built in 1949 by Joseph King of New Bonaventure and owned by Mr. Miller, she was about 23 feet long, six and a half feet wide and 38 inches deep. Mr. Miller supplied all the materials and paid Joseph King $80 for labour.

Sidney Miller


After spending a number of years turned bottom-up on display in the garden of the Trinity Museum, Mr. Miller’s boat was beginning to rot. Worried that she was too bad to turn over, Lance took her apart plank by plank and carefully removed each frame.

P_Bully Boat - Trinity Museum (5)
Original boat as it was taken apart in the garden of Trinity Museum

Taking measurements and notes as he disassembled the fifty-one year old fishing boat, Lance carefully reconstructed the Trinity Bay bully exactly the same as the original. Built with spruce timbers and fir planks, she was outfitted with a four horsepower Atlantic engine and set of sails.

The boat is short in front with a rounded hull, Lance says that “she’s lower and not so wide fore because when we were using the long line trawl they’re easier to pull through the water.”

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Lance loading a tub of trawl into his boat

While similar to a trapskiff or motor boat, the bully boat’s washboard gunnels give an extra six inches of shelter above the standard gunnel. “That gunnel, ya see, is for when you were fishing and she’d go down and hit on that gunnel and you’d have a bit of shelter.”

Lance Short explains that the “washboards” not only provide fishermen with more protection when the boat is rolling in ocean swells, but also add extra height above her sheer line to allow for more space when unhooking fish from handlines and trawls.

Lance Short Bully Boat


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One thought on “Trinity Bight Bully Boat

  • May 16, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    Wonderful website so much info. For us dreamers to ponder.


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