Roy Jenkins

Roy Jenkins sits in his newly finished motorboat, 2013.

Roy Jenkins has been building boats in Twillingate for more than 30 years. Born in nearby Tizzard’s Harbour, Roy moved to Twillingate in the late 1970s. “This is where my mother was born… here on this land,” he said standing outside the shed where he builds his boats.

Over the years, Roy has built mostly speed boats. He estimates that he’s produced around ten or eleven, but no two were ever alike. “Every one was on a different mould,” he said, “and there was changes to each one.” Some of the moulds were adapted from those used by other local builders, including Max Hussey, while others Roy made himself.

“I built one boat, a sixteen foot speed boat, and from the time I started to the time I put it in the water, it was fourteen days. But an awful lot of hours…”

While today there is no shortage of speed boats around Twillingate, when Roy was a boy, it was motorboats and trap skiffs that filled the harbours. “A lot of them [motorboats], when I was growing up, were eighteen to nineteen feet,” Roy said. “I think that probably came about because a lot of people had eighteen to nineteen foot punts and when the three Acadia [engine] came, they just modified the stern and put in a three Acadia, and that’s why you ended up with eighteen-nineteen foot motorboats.”

On June 1, 2013, Roy launched his own motorboat. With an overall length of twenty-one feet and a beam of seven feet to outside gunwhales, “she just come out through the door,” Roy said as he showed us photos of her build and launch.

To design the shape of her hull, Roy started with moulds taken from a motorboat built by Keith Hill in Little Burnt Bay and modified the forehook to accommodate the shape his stem. He used steam bent frames, or laths, made from juniper cut by his brother Raymond in Botwood. After boiling in hot water for an hour and fifteen minutes, Roy placed the 1½” x 1″ laths at 8″ centres.

Steam Box

Roy’s steam Box

Launch Day

For the plank, Roy used spruce cut in Gander Bay by himself and his friend Darrell Stuckless. To prevent the laths from coming out of place and changing shape, Roy started planking in the middle and went up to sheer. He then planked from the garboard up to the middle. Running into some trouble near the stern, Roy said, “that’s one thing I would probably do different, but I would I still would start that way… it was a good place to start.”

The twenty-one foot motorboat was launched in the spring of 2013 to the tune of Johnny Poker, a traditional launching song. They opted for an old-fashioned launch, using logs to roll the boat over and help from the community to haul her from his garden to the beach. “There must have been about a hundred people there that day,” Roy said.

For her maiden voyage, Roy took the motorboat to Tizzard’s Harbour, where he grew up. “She’s an excellent seaboat… She floats good in rough water and she’s very maneuverable,” said Roy, “But, like I told Alf, that was fluke more than anything else,” he laughs.

Excellent Seaboat

A Seaworthy Motorboat

“She’s an excellent seaboat… She floats good in rough water and she’s very maneuverable, you can turn almost like a speed boat. It’s unbelievable. And she just handles rough water really well… But like I told Alf, that was fluke more than anything else.”

Roy’s Motorboat

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2 thoughts on “Roy Jenkins

  • May 27, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    I remember just like it was yesterday:

    Back in 1971 during my first year at New World Island Central High School, Joseph Smallwood while in the midst of an election campaign gave a speech in our school’s gym.

    I did not attend that nights events, but the next day during geography class, our teacher Harley Farr told us proudly that … former student Roy Jenkins had stood up and asked a question of the Honourable Guest:

    “Mr. Smallwood, what are you going to do for the fishery?”

    After reading this article about boat building, It’s obvious that Roy did his part.

    Junior Canning
    formerly from Moreton’s Harbour

  • May 29, 2020 at 9:23 am

    I am looking for a boat like this. I have a 5HP Acadian.
    Does Roy still build, or, would anyone know of one for sale. I’m originally from Bathurst NB. I recall my father having a Make n Break back in the ’50’s
    I am located in Collingwood Ontario.
    Please let me know if there is any interest.


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