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Our History

On this site in the early 17th century Dutch lumber traders unloaded their cargoes of exotic woods from around the world and established one of the earliest lumber yards in the US.   Their activity right here led to the eventual settlement of the town of Branford, which today is a bustling cosmopolitan community and an exciting destination port for many East Coast sailors.

Our marina and repair yard has been serving the needs of these boat owners since 1955 when my father, a retired naval architect and Merchant Marine officer, decided that there was a growing need for a knowledgeable yard to care for these expensive boats.  I’ve been operating the yard since 1985 following the same principles of quality and integrity that made us a recognized leader in wooden boat repair and maintenance.

Over the years, the yachting community has moved towards more and more fiberglass boats — and Dutch Wharf has evolved to meet the needs of these boaters as well, but our roots and our true passion remains with wooden boats and those who love them. The composition of our work force and the tools available at the yard reflect that interest.

It begins with a large stock of dry, high quality lumber, accumulated over many years and not unlike that which was unloaded from the Dutch ships in the early days. We maintain quantities of white oak, mahogany, teak and other specialty woods, but also the special “knees” and “crooks” which can be used to replace stems, transoms, etc. that aging wooden vessels may require.
Our carpentry shop, which has lots of that “old-world feel”, is the envy of every weekend carpenter. We utilize the latest wood working tools and safety features that modern technology allows. The people who operate the tools are our greatest asset and the principal reason so many customers who have been with us for years refer their friends to us. In addition, we have a complete engine repair facility and a full fiberglass, gel-coat and AWLGRIP capability.

This past year we began construction of our first mahogany, cold molded boat — a 24 ½ ‘ classic runabout patterned after the old Chris Craft and Hacker lake boats of the 30′s and 40′s. She is an elegant reproduction of the original runabouts but with modern construction and state of the art electrical and electronic systems.

With a full-time staff of 19 specialists, six of whom have been with us more than 25 years each, we can mix experience and youthful enthusiasm to bring just the right blend of talent to bear on each project. The primary quality we seek in new hires is intelligence. Many of our craftsmen are college educated. Several are fine artists or classically trained in other fields. Three even operate their own art and/or sculpture studios making them keenly aware of style, color, hue and specialized finishing techniques. No other yard can surpass the brightwork and painting skills of our technicians and artists. Each is engrained with the important values of customer service and a quality work product.