Arey’s Pond: Six Decades of Boatbuilding on Pleasant Bay
In the early 1950s, Jim Kidd, a retired Coast Guard officer, built a home on the edge of Arey’s Pond, just off Pleasant Bay. He designed the basement to be a boat shop for his retirement years but he soon found that he was getting calls to fix and repair boats for locals who were fishing or sailing on Pleasant Bay. In 1954, he realized there was enough demand to start a boat yard, so he and his sons began a seasonal business hauling, repairing, and launching boats. He was known to be a perfectionist; the yard was always immaculate and his work was first-class. He specialized in maintaining classic wooden Beetle Cats, which were built in South Dartmouth.
In the 1960s, Jim sold the business to Brad and Libby Fisk. Jim knew Libby because she had been working for George O’Day when he and Spaulding Dunbar (of Chatham) became the first Cape Cod co-dealers for O’Day sailboats. Brad and Libby started a sailing school and upgraded the boat yard waterfront at Arey’s Pond by adding a service building. They also set up an award winning O’Day dealership at Arey’s Pond, which sold more O’Days than any other dealership in New England.
Eventually, the Fisks and their yard manager at the time, Merv Hammett, introduced the Arey’s Pond 14’ Cat and the 12′ Kitten. These fiberglass boats were based on their wooden counterparts, the Edson Schock 14′ cat, Hortense, and the Beetle Cat. The Fisks also initiated a Tohatsu dealership, which is going strong to this day. During this period, storage and mooring rentals were becoming a big part of the business; open space on the 7 acres of boat yard land was used for storage and 60 moorings in the pond were licensed to the boat yard by the town.
In 1991, the Fisks sold the yard to the current owners, Tony and Robin Davis. Their plan was to incorporate more custom boat construction into the business to satisfy Tony’s passion for boatbuilding. Since 1991, over 250 new boats have been built at the yard, designed individually to each customer’s specifications, including 175 Arey’s Pond 14′ Cats.
In 1998, the 16′ Cabin Lynx was introduced to the market as a custom one-off wooden boat. There was immediate interest, so a mold was made. The design has proved popular in both cabin and open models, and fiberglass hulls number 48 and 49 are now under construction. In 1999, Tony designed the Arey’s Pond Launch, based on the Lynx, and four were built in wood. Also in the late 90s, Tony began a collaboration with designer Tony Dias, which resulted in the introduction of the Arey’s Pond Daysailer in 2003; to date four have been built in wood.
In 2006, the builders at Arey’s Pond were commissioned to design and build 20′ and 22′ custom cruising catboats, as well as a 38′ Spencer Lincoln design powerboat. In June 2014, at the WoodenBoat Show, Arey’s Pond Boat Yard will be introducing the 19′ catboat, Caracal, designed by Tony.
Under their ownership, the Davises have protected a total of 4.5 acres of open space at the site through conveyance to the Orleans Conservation Trust and protection under a Conservation Restriction, thereby preserving the integrity of the land at the yard. The waterfront portion of the yard remains today much as it was when Jim Kidd set it up in the 1950s; his old shop is now the yard’s office. Mooring rental, storage inside and out, and seasonal service to boaters on Pleasant Bay continue to be the mainstay of the yard’s success.