Anglers Journal - - CONTENTS - Capt. Pete Wheeler — Daniel Hard­ing Jr.

Capt. Pete Wheeler’s 1960 Hat­teras 41 (hull No. 7) is a piece of boat­build­ing his­tory. To him, it’s his fish­ing part­ner and liveli­hood. By DANIEL HARD­ING

Fish on Long Island Sound long enough, and you’ll come across Capt. Pete Wheeler, a 40-year veteran of the fish­ing-char­ter game with a strik­ing 1960 Hat­teras 41 (hull No. 7) named Sea Sprite. Boat nuts will im­me­di­ately rec­og­nize her as the fiber­glass model that helped Hat­teras rise to sport­fish­ing fame. Lo­cal fish­er­men will rec­og­nize her abil­ity to send char­ter guests pack­ing with cool­ers full of fresh fish and smiles on their faces.

From the out­side, you would think Sea Sprite is a re­stored show­boat, but that just means you don’t know her veteran cap­tain from Clin­ton, Con­necti­cut. Yes, the old Hat­teras is im­pec­ca­bly main­tained, but step aboard and you’ll realize that the boat, like Wheeler, is solely fo­cused on one thing: fish­ing. Stripped away are the ap­pli­ances, cush­ions and crea­ture com­forts you’d ex­pect to find.

“I have the en­closed wheel­house, which to me is my of­fice,” Wheeler says. “I have heat up there, which is ideal. But there’s no elec­tric­ity in the cabin, no fur­ni­ture. I just wanted it bare-bones. It’s very sim­ple, it’s very eco­nom­i­cal, and it gets the job done.”

Like those who now ad­mire Sea Sprite, Wheeler first saw the boat while she was out char­ter­ing. At the time, a tug­boat cap­tain who ran week­end trips on the side owned her. “I had my eye on this boat from the first mo­ment I saw it, and I told the owner at the time, ‘You ever want to sell that, make sure you call me first,’ ” Wheeler says. “He even­tu­ally did de­cide to sell it and called me.” That was 38 years ago.

“I re­ally had to put a lot of work into it to get it back in shape,” the skip­per says. “I re­placed the teak deck, did a lot of glass­work, and it just mor­phed into the ideal char­ter boat.”

Although Wheeler did ex­ten­sive work, it’s the qual­i­ties the boat was born with that make her well suited for the thou­sands of char­ters they’ve done to­gether. “It’s good in all kinds of sea con­di­tions,” he says. “Whether in a head sea, fol­low­ing sea, beam sea, it’s a heavy boat made of solid glass. It’s hard to be­lieve she’s as old as she is.

She’s served me well.”

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