A New Jersey “Chicken-Breasted” Garvey
Design & text by Reuel B. Parker

The Garvey is a small-craft type well known in working waterfronts all over the world. The type is a relative of the Scow, whose wide, flat bottoms made them excellent for carrying cargo and fish. Garveys evolved on the New Jersey coast perhaps more than in any other American locale—their shallow draft made them ideal for fishing the bays, creeks, rivers and estuaries of that state.

Most early garveys were small—under twenty feet—and had flat bottoms with nearly vertical sterns and transom-hung rudders. The bows were simply a continuation of the cross-planked bottom, curving sharply upward to terminate at a short foredeck. These craft were used for everything from carrying cargo to several kinds of fishing, shellfish gathering, and duck hunting.

While most of the river craft were rowed, many were fitted with centerboards and sailed surprisingly well on protected and semi-protected waters. Indeed, they sailed so well that many were raced—due to their flat bottoms and long runs, they tended to plane under a good press of canvas.

Over many years of development throughout the 19th century, the flat bottomed garvey grew progressively larger, and evolved into a V-bottomed model around the turn of the century, which could sail in rougher water and perform better under sail. These big garveys generally had gaff-sloop sail plans, with plank bowsprits and jibs. These later garveys were often 25’ to 30’ long, had inboard rudders, strongly raked sterns and were generally decked fore & aft with wide washboards (side decks) and cockpit coamings.

I grew up largely on the south shore of Long Island, N. Y., and saw many variations of the V-bottomed garvey on the Great South Bay. The type was ideally suited for clamming in the Bay’s extensive shallow waters. Of course, by the 1950’s these boats were all powered by engines—many of them gasoline automobile engines adapted for the scow hull.

The V-bottomed models picked up the nick-name “chicken-breasted” because of the distinct appearance of their bows.

Click on the links below for information on Parker Marine Garvey designs
Garvey 11.5
Garvey 28
Garvey 33

For more information and plans prices on these and other designs visit Parker Marine's website

Garvey Designs by Doug Hylan

available from WoodenBoat Store
15'9 BEN Garvey,
19' BIG BEN Garvey

Harvey Golden's Garvey Box
a design from Tuckerton New Jersey as documented by Howard Chapelle

"Two Nights on ZEPHYR."
A Spring Solo Cruise in a Garvey Box
Article in March 2015 WoodenBoat Small Boats Monthly