Henry Vokey: Master Boat Builder
Henry's Early Life
Henry Vokey was born with boat building in his blood; His father and grand-father before him were boat builders. Henry Was born in the year 1929 to parents Joseph William and Mary Vokey. Henry grew up in Little Harbour, located in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. Henry took an interest in boat building at a young age. At age 12 Henry built his first model boat, which measured six feet long. In the 1950's at age 25 Henry built his first boat. In 1964 Henry resettled to the town of Trinity and that's when he took up boat building seriously.
From a Hobby Into a Living
After moving to trinity Henry continued to build boats and over time turned his one man operation into a successful business. In 1965 Henry opened Vokeys Shipyard, which he operated with his two younger brothers. Throughout the years it was open, Vokeys Ship yard produced hundreds of boats and employed upwards of 40 people out a time. In the early 1990's Vokeys shipyard closed. However Henry continued to build out of his own shed.
Over one-thousand Boats
For more than 55 years Henry Vokey has used traditional boat building methods to produce over 1000 boats of all types. This includes over 50 punts and rodneys, 100 plus trap boats, 100 plus speed boats, and over 50 dorys. In addition to this Henry has built schooners, long liners, sailboats, and over 30 models. It is believed that no one in Newfoundland has built more boats then Henry.
The J & B
Henry is no stranger to building schooners. As a matter of fact the last schooner to sail Newfoundland's water was built by Henry. The schooner the J & B, was built by Henry in 1985 and launched in 1986. The vessel was named after Henry's daughters, Jane, Josephine, Bonnie, and Bernice. The schooner was sold in 1994, and operated for a number of years as a tour boat in St. John's. In 2001 the vessel was sold to a tour company in Florida. After changing owners a few times, it was renamed the Wanderer and was lost off the coast of Georgia in 2007 during hurricane Wilma.
Henry had built the J & B as a pleasure craft. Nonetheless the vessel was characterized as a fisherman's schooner, gaff-rigged with eight sails; including a gaff main and foresail, top gallants on both masts, and three head sails. The J & B's dimensions were 48 feet on the deck and measuring 60 feet overall, with a 15 foot beam. She could accomodate 60-75 tons in the hull and 8-12 crew members.
In the past couple of years Henry has gained recognition province wide for his contribution to wooden boat building. In 2007 Henry received the order of Newfoundland and Labrador. The order recognizes individuals who have demonstrated excellence and achievement in any field of endeavour benefiting Newfoundland and Labrador and its residents. In 2008 the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador presented an honorary lifetime membership to Henry, in recognition of his lifetime devotion to building wooden boats.