March 17th 2013. By Zuzana Prochazka.

Hel-Port II: Own a Fishing Classic

History-minded anglers can own a classic, in the form of a Nicholas Potter-designed sport fisher that still plies the waters of the West Coast.

If you like to fish and would also enjoy owning a piece of floating history, consider combining your passions: a 1937, 40-foot sport fisher named Hel-Port which was designed by the renowned and prolific Nicholas Potter, is for sale.

Hel-Port at dock

Hel-Port was built in 1937 as a sport fishing yacht.

Potter, who moved to Newport Beach, California in the 1920s, became known as the “Herreshoff of the West Coast,” which was fitting since the two were boyhood friends and both apprenticed in Nathanael Herreshoff’s design office in Bristol.

Potter’s large double-ended sailing sloops were works of art, and many have been lovingly restored and still sail today—although Potter left instructions that his drawings be destroyed after his death so reconstruction of some of the older vessels has been a challenge. Luckily, Hel-Port, a classic motor yacht, has been maintained and well documented and retains much of her original structure, systems and charm.

Hel-Port was designed as a sport fishing yacht commissioned by W.P. Durkee, then vice president of Shell Oil. He liked to fish the waters around Catalina Island, so the historic Hel-Port could often be found tied to a mooring in Avalon Harbor. She has complete records including the original contract with the boatbuilder, Fellows & Stewart, and a placard affixed to a bulkhead that states her name and origin. She was Lloyd’s registered in 1963.

Fellows & Stewart was established at Pier 26 on Terminal Island in Wilmington, California in 1899. Originally known as the Joe Fellows Yacht & Launch Company, it became Fellows & Stewart in the 1920s and continued as a premier West Coast builder for the next forty years.

The yard designed a variety of vessels: US Army tugs, US Navy crash boats and sub chasers, and many yachts for a distinguished clientele that included actor Rudolf Valentino, writer Zane Grey and the Wrigley family of chewing gum fame.

Hel-Port’s hull is of Douglas fir on oak, the decks are teak and the house is mahogany. She is powered by twin Kermath Sea Flyers which are the original engines, well maintained and still operable. The vessel carries 100 gallons of gasoline in copper fuel tanks, has direct chain steering, and her 12-volt system has been completely rewired. A major refit in ‘89/’93 included bronze fasteners, new keel bolts, new hatches and transom, and below waterline plank replacement.

Hel-Port was built as a sport fisher of her time with a large aft deck and a bait well, which has since been removed. She has an inside helm station in the upper saloon, twin settees that become berths in the lower saloon, a galley to starboard with a sink, stove and 12-volt refrigeration, and a large head in the forepeak. She lacks no conventional creature comforts and is ready for overnight outings, perhaps back in Avalon as in her glory days.

Hel-Port is for sale in Marina del Rey, California. For the past 23 years, she has been maintained by the same meticulous owner who has not only preserved her seaworthiness, but also her old- world ambience.

Now, who wants to go fishing?

View Hel-Port’s listing on YachtWorld



Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.