Joe Haynes grew up in Detroit with three brothers and two sisters. Their father, once a tight end for the University of Michigan football team and later an Army sergeant who stormed beaches in the Pacific during World War II, was a very athletic man, but in spite of his best efforts to get his kids involved in sports, none of them showed any interest.
The family moved to Algonac, Michigan, a small town tucked in a bend of the St. Clair River, which flows from Lake Huron to Lake Erie and separates the state of Michigan from the province of Ontario. Surrounded by water, the kids gravitated to boats. The first boat in the family was a derelict wooden boat Joe and his twin brother fished out of the river near their home. They patched the leaks with tar and used the boat to explore the river upstream and down.
Joe’s dad was quick to pick up on his kids’ interest and bought a used outboard skiff for them to use. He also started to build a boat in the garage but never finished it. Years later, he told Joe he gave up because the kids kept taking his tools and losing them
Joe grew up, married Janet Maria Mayea, and with her raised three children in Algonac. He was steeped in the tradition of wooden boats: Algonac is the home of Chris-Craft, Joe’s brothers owned Chris-Craft cruisers built in the 1940s, and his father-in-law, Herbert Mayea, was a second-generation owner of Mayea Boat Works, maker of Mays-Craft boats. Over the years Joe restored a 1959 Century Resorter ski boat, an old 12′ row boat, a 14′ skiff, and he built a 16′ outboard-powered dory.
Joe’s kids grew up on the water, and there was always a boat in the family. They’d go out fishing or swimming and would often cruise the islands on the St. Clair River flats on the edge of Lake St. Clair. When Joe’s six grandkids came into the picture, he wanted to give them the same experience he’d had and had given his kids, so he decided to build a boat from scratch.
Joe ordered plans for Jacques Mertens’s Pilot 19 from Bateau.com. A CAD designer, he did a digital build before starting work on the 18′ 11″ x 7′ 8″ boat. He made a few changes, most notably foregoing the pilothouse the boat was designed with. He preferred a more open cockpit and built the boat with just a windshield. With the design modified to suit, Joe turned from his computer, keyboard, and mouse to plywood, fiberglass, and epoxy. Some of his father’s tools that he and his siblings hadn’t lost were part of the project.
The construction is stitch-and-glue with an egg-crate system of interlocking bulkheads and stringers reinforcing the hull. The plans are designed to make for a quick build, but Joe took his time, calling on Mertens and the Bateau forum to help him through any rough patches. Even while the boat was under construction in his garage, it was already serving one of Joe’s purposes: luring the grandkids to visit. They made the boat their fort.
It took Joe five years to finish the boat; even before it was launched it was already a fixture in the family. JANET MARIA, named after Joe’s wife, is now afloat and frequents the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River. The boat will stay on a plane at just 12 mph, and with two people aboard, the 90-hp outboard will take them up to 35 mph.
Three generations of the Haynes family enjoy fishing, cruising, swimming, tubing, and getting together with friends aboard the boat. Moored on a canal just behind the house, she still serves as the grandkids’ fort.
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