Chester A. Crosby & Sons, Inc. 2017-10-19T14:14:27+00:00


While the flourishing Wianno Senior class kept many Crosby’s hard at it building them, one young man identified a need outside of steam-bending the ribs.

Chester, the oldest son of Manley’s brother Joseph, saw an opportunity. Instead of working alongside his cousins, he decided to branch out on his own. “Chet” built the first marine railway in Osterville. “I saw there was a demand for a way to haul out the Seniors, to paint and clean them. In 1926, I put in the first marine railway in Osterville. In succeeding summers, I was overwhelmed with the amount of work I got.” Chet was quoted in a 1987 personality feature in Cape Cod Life.

With his newlywed bride, Ida, grinding the winch handle on shore, Chet stayed with the Senior and carefully aligned her in the cradle for hauling. Chet and Ida had begun what would become a large and renowned boatyard known as Chester A. Crosby & Sons.

In a tradition of fairness, E.M., “Ned”, Crosby, grandson of Chet, started at the bottom of a boatyard and went from there. At age seven, hired by Chester A. Crosby & Sons for $2.00 an hour, he swept the shop and changed sparked plugs with the outboard mechanic brothers. As Ned grew older and more experienced, so did his accountabilities. He went through the different departments in the yard …rigging, hauling, maintenance and building a boat from start to finish… soaking it all in as he went. Throughout the eleven years Ned was there before leaving for college, he was, also, able to get a good sense, first hand, of why his grandfather gained a reputation as a kind man and one with whom you would want to do business.

Along with sterling customer service, Chester A. Crosby & Sons had a reputation for the quality custom boats it produced. The “Aries”, for instance, is an example of the detail work and fine carpentry of which the yard was capable. This wooden boat, designed by Dan Knott, consisted of a traditional schooner with classic lines and built with old-world craftsmanship in this age of new world technology.

Fiberglass became the new rage during the shops heyday, and Chet wasn’t going to be left behind. Even though there was a paperweight in the office that read, “If God wanted fiberglass boats, he would have made fiberglass trees;” Chet was always up on current technology from fiberglass to shrinkwrap. The yard built a fiberglass boat designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates in 1976 which became Contrail. The 32-foot custom day boat has been owned by a single family. Their desires were for a simple boat, yet one with Hunt signature deep-vee hull that could cut through the swells that the Nantucket Sound southwesterlies could stir up while you’re having a cozy lunch at “The Black Dog” in Vineyard Haven.

Ned has taken his grandfather’s lead and continued with two of his most important traditions: customer service and fine custom boatbuilding. The family’s iconic tug boat, Admiral can be seen on Fridays doing “rounds”. Ned’s cousin Charlie, also grandson of Chet, works at E.M. Crosby Boatworks. He is right at home in the pilot house of the tug. His routine is to do a circuit of courtesy visits on Fridays to customers’ boats: pumping, starting up, wiping down, etc. This is the farthest the yard can go to assure the customer and family/guests have a pleasant experience with their boat for the weekend.

A most successful building project of E.M. Crosby Boatworks has been the building of the Crosby 38 Custom Express Cruiser, Avery M.  Gestated out of the admiration and respect for the seaworthiness and clean lines of Chester A. Crosby & Sons Contrail,  Ned had a good friend approach him with the desire to build something like Contrail only bigger, faster and out of wood.  Again, collaborating with C. Raymond Hunt, the Crosby 38 was fashioned and built.  First place winner of the 2011 WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport “Best Professionally Built Boat”, Ned has taken a confident seat in the family legacy.


Thank you for sharing :)