Chokoloskee and the Everglades area have had the reputation of quality “boat building” since the Calusa and Seminoles first carved out their canoes. In the late 1800s Everglades City pioneer R.B. Storter rebuilt the sunken Key West sloop (which became his pride schooner, the Bertie Lee) and in the 1950s A.C. Hancock built the Albatross II and a number of other boats in Chokoloskee. Today we are seeing the same craftsmanship using current-day materials as Ron Ouellette takes on his self-imposed challenge of building a 31-foot-long form-fiberglass Trimaran. This is a Ferrier designed boat from New Zealand. Originally, Ron was planning to order one, but even the secondhand boats of this model were expensive. Since Ron had built his first sailboat (a 50-ft monohull) at the age of 26 and sailed it around the Caribbean, he decided to take the plunge and build “the ultimate boat” for himself. That was a year ago. Now, after months of working on this design with some of his own modifications and taking advantage of high-tech materials, Ron can see the light. He hopes to complete this magnificent sailboat in January of 2011 at which time he plans to retire from his nursing position at Physicians Regional Medical Center in Naples. Ron has always enjoyed working, but he has also always enjoyed sailing. For 26 years he worked in the Islands (mostly St. Croix) as he traveled around living on his boats. It wasn’t until he found a vacant lot on Dupont while kayaking along Panther Creek in 1999 that he decided to settle down and build his own home. He camped out in a tent on his property during his days off for several years until he finished constructing his house. It was only coincidence that this particular piece of property was zoned residential as well as boat building. Ron believes that the Gulf of Mexico is a waterway which is challenging for boaters. The shallows make the seas rough and difficult to navigate. He hopes that his Trimaran will live up to the standards of the Everglades area boat builders and that he will make Everglades City proud. Ron would like to thank the many people who have helped in all aspects of the project, including Craig Williams, Bill Butler, Don Cochran, Doug House, and last but not least Karen Cabral.
Patricia Huff has lived in Everglades City for the past 16 years and is the Publisher of the local newspaper The Mullet Rapper.