BoatingLocal recently received an email from John Harris of North Carolina, who responded to the story we posted on the wreck of the Edna G. (Stellwagen Wreck Listed as “Historic Place”), a commercial trawler that sank on Stellwagen Bank in 1988 and was declared a historic landmark. Turns out that Harris’ grandfather may have designed the boat.
Here is part of his email:
“My name is John Harris and I am originally from Morehead City. I was intrigued by your February 5, 2011, article on the Edna G., launched in 1956.
As you are probably aware, the Morehead City Shipbuilding Corporation has long been out of business. The trawler and the shipyard have a special place for me, as my grandfather was a boat builder who worked his way up to boat designer. He worked at the Morehead City Shipbuilding Corporation, where he designed the Hatteras Shrimp Trawler. He was eventually the design and construction manager until the shipyard went out of business after Hurricane Hazel. My guess is that the Edna G. was one of his designs.
“After the closing of the shipyard, he went back to college where he got his degree and teaching certificate and taught both math and shop. The shop class would take on special projects, using their math and woodworking skills to design and build several boats a year for people who would provide the supplies.
“My grandfather, James Jackson Mitchell (aka, Capt Jim) was self taught. I know he started as a boatwright before actually designing the boats. During WW II, he worked at the shipyard in New Bern, where they built mine sweepers, I believe. He must have been well respected for his work, because my grandmother, Rena May Mitchell, christened several of the ships.
“My grandfather never made much money, never owned a house and died as a result of lung cancer. But during the years he taught school, I’ve seen his students stop by their house and visit with him on the front porch.”
Harris eventually tracked down some old articles on the shipyard, which he scanned and sent to BoatingLocal.
You can see and read some of them here:
The Fish Boat Article (PDF)