” She has no muffler – I love the sound, super low and throaty and unique. I’m a combustion engine nerd.

Leenane, Fortier 26’

Interview with the Captain – Jay Connolly

About Boating 

Why did you choose to buy a Fortier?
We had a 23’ Seacraft center console for a number of years and were looking for a boat we could cruise on as our family grew to include kids. I also wanted the ability to continue to inshore fish. I’ve always loved the classic Eldredge-McInnis New England Bass Boat lines that the Fortiers have, and I had always wanted an inboard diesel. The market for a boat in the 26’ range that is affordable and can accommodate all that the Fortier offers is limited. Definitely sacrifice speed with a downeast style hull and inboard, but we enjoy the ride, and she gets the looks everywhere we go.

What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this particular model (and how did they compare)?
I knew I wanted a downeast style boat – I looked at Holland 32’s, Dyer 29’s, and a handful of others, but the Fortier I knew was the right fit for us.

How did you come to find/locate her before purchasing (and what’s the boat’s history if you know it)?
She was originally built for a Marbleheader in 1980/81. She was then sold to another Marblehead family who I have known my entire life. The boat prior to me purchasing had been out of the water for 8 or 9 years and was not being used and I had reached out to him a few years prior to buying it and told him that if he was ever considering selling it, that I’d love to take a look. A few years later, he was ready to part with it and gave me a call. It was a perfect fit – any boat that sits out of the water unused can fall into disrepair quickly. I was looking for a project boat that I could restore, and that is what I got.

What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
I fully restored the boat – stripped all the teak and refinished, blasted the bottom, faired the hull and repainted the bottom, hull, tops, deck with a new awlgrip paintjob. I replaced the windshield glass, replaced the engine controls, replaced all electrical and plumbing systems, did a bunch of small repair work to the engine, fully refinished the interior and a bunch of other small odds and ends. I removed a lot as well to simplify the boat – got rid of the bow rail, a transom ladder, and some of the small miscellaneous teak trim to reduce the maintenance.

What are the features you like most about your boat?
She has a teak cockpit liner that I refinished that looks really nice and adds a unique style to the boat. Lot of work to maintain, but it’s worth it. I also love the engine – it’s the original 1980 Perkins turbodiesel which is very simple and reliable. She has no muffler – I love the sound, super low and throaty and unique. I’m a combustion engine nerd.

Who first introduced you to boating/sailing?
I grew up in Marblehead and was introduced to boating by my father. My family has been on the North Shore and involved in boating for many generations. I am enjoying passing that tradition on to another generation of boaters now. 

Do you belong to a yacht club or other boating/sailing organizations?
I am a member of Eastern Yacht Club

What boats have you previously owned?
I previously owned a 23’ Seacraft and a number of other small sailboats and skiffs. I also own a Town Class sailboat that I race in the Marblehead fleet.

How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
We use the boat often for day trips around MA Bay, fishing, harbor-cruising, sitting on the mooring, you name it. We also take on overnight trips and each summer we have owned we have done an 8-day cruise with our 2 children. Twice to the cape/islands as far south as Block Island and once to Casco Bay. This summer we plan to take the boat to Penobscot Bay ME.

What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
I do almost all of the service myself, so that eliminates the biggest challenge this and many industries face which is finding a good and reliable service company. I have a friend who is a diesel engine guru who has mentored me in learning and understanding the basics of diesel engines, marinization components and how to properly run, maintain and fix my engine.

Do you have any notable boating resources you use?
Navionics! Our boat is set up with a minimalist concept – we have an analog depth sounder original to the boat, and a VHF radio. I use Navionics on an iPad and it is incredibly user friendly compared to most marine-based nav systems for small boats.

Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a Fortier like yours?
Good luck finding one! The demand for DownEast style cuddy/bass boats has gone through the roof and they are hard to come by at a reasonable price point. If you do find one, don’t be intimidated by getting your hands dirty – they are incredibly simple boats – but like all boats, you need to be well aware of all systems and how they work and how to maintain them. I feel like a lot of people are intimidated by inboard straight shaft boats. The Fortier draws less than 2’ and can get into very shallow areas – we hang out in the same places the center consoles do. They are also incredibly easy to drive and handle very well in sea – so if you are looking for a boat to up-grade from a center console, a Fortier is a great option.

What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Leenane is the name of a village in Ireland where my ancestors on the Connolly side came from. It is situated at the head of a fjord in Killary Harbor on the West Coast of Ireland in Galway. Leenane was the name of my Great-Great Grandfather’s boat Herreshoff designed Bar Harbor 31 that he owned in the early 1900s. I have the same name as him and he was a member of the Jubilee Yacht Club in Beverly and was a very active sailor in the late 1800s/early 1900s. We have a photo framed in the cabin of her.

Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Leenane!