Much has been said about the flare bow of Harkers Island boats. Writers and boat builders have come from across the country to marvel at the engineering that its structure exemplifies. They are amazed at how the shape of the bow worked the shallow waters of Core Sound and the way the soft juniper wood would make the angle of the curve. How could a man with only an innate knowledge of the water and a natural talent for working wood develop such a design? The answer is simple; he knew what was needed and he built it. The boat's beauty is the culmination of that understanding.
Other boatbuilders on the Island explained it this way: "Brady had a gift for building things and he understood the water. The curve of the bow turns water away from the inside of the boat, the round stern has no corner for net to get hung on; practical thinking, practical people, fine craftsmanship, ingenious results." From his influence has come a long legacy of master boatbuilders and an industry whose trademark Harkers Island "flare" is recognized worldwide.
The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum recognizes the "Jean Dale" as a story that goes far beyond boat building design. This vessel's history reflects the talents and strength of a community of people who for generations have made a life for themselves and their families with that same style and ingenuity. Mr. Brady's boats began with a hatchet and just the right tree to make the "knee" of the boat. Brady Lewis believed he had all he needed and he made it work.
In that day, the people of Harkers Island accepted that reality in everything they did. Their resourcefulness was their survival, their work was their success and their character was shaped by both. The "Jean Dale" is a beautiful symbol of all that. That is the story she tells.
Calvin Rose, one of the legendary Rose Brothers boat builders was born and raised among these boats all his life. He explained Harkers Island boats this way. "What makes Harkers Island boats the best? I guess it's the material, the design of the boat that we put in it and then we put ourselves in that boat. When that boat is finished, what's in us is in that boat and I think that's what makes our boat one of the best boats built ..."
Mr. Harry Lewis, the man who owned, fished and loved the "Jean Dale," was a man who worked the water by putting himself into his work. Depending on the season, the wind, the tide (in other words, "what he had") and the working knowledge and determination born in him, Mr. Harry made a living for his family. His children's names, Patty Jean and Dale, graced the vessel he worked and loved for more than half a century. His family, his work and his boat were all one and the same.
It is this community's story that the "Jean Dale" tells and the heritage we will carry on.
Funding provided by the NC Arts Council to document this historic vessel.