Soundings - - Classics - IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY JIM EWING —Steve Knauth

“De­signed by a fish.”

That’s how the Fortier 26 was de­scribed in is­sue 12 of Nau­ti­cal Quar­terly, back in 1980.

A cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions of fish­er­men would agree. The husky, rough-and-ready, bass-style boat made its de­but in 1978 and quickly won a rep­u­ta­tion for fish­ing the New Eng­land tide rips in all kinds of winds and waves. Pow­ered by a sin­gle in­board diesel, it had a wide beam, a sta­ble hull and a big cock­pit made for fish­ing.

The Fortier 26 was the brain­child of Som­er­set, Mas­sachusett, build­ing con­trac­tor Roger Fortier. An ac­tive mem­ber of the New Bed­ford

Yacht Club, he was an in­vet­er­ate boater and fish­er­man. In the mid1970s, he turned his tal­ents as a builder and his pas­sion for boats and boat­ing into a per­sonal project: He would build a fish­ing boat with his teenage son, Rob.

In 1976, Fortier launched his 26-footer, built us­ing plans drawn up by the Bos­ton de­sign firm of Eldridge-McIn­nis. It was a win­ner; by 1978, the newly in­cor­po­rated Fortier Boats had built and sold 11 of the boats. Fortier joined the boat­build­ing his­tory of Som­er­set, a town that’s been launch­ing boats and ships for more than 300 years.

The 26-footer com­bined the best of the old and the new. The hull had a tra­di­tional keel and skeg, and con­struc­tion in­cluded Core­cell foam in the deck and bot­tom. Mod­ern cabin ameni­ties in­cluded a V-berth, a ma­rine head, a pres­sure wa­ter sys­tem, an ice box and a bu­tane stove, mak­ing the fish­ing boat into a fam­ily boat and overnighter. Teak rub rails and wind­shield trim added a vin­tage touch to the look. Op­tions in­cluded soft and hard tops and a tiller with its own set of en­gine con­trols.

And they still build them to­day. Fortier Boats has turned out more than 500 ves­sels over the years, of­fer­ing 26-, 30-, 33- and 40-foot semi­cus­tom boats that are all based on Eldridge-McIn­nis de­signs.

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