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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Simmons Sea-Skiff

by Gene Purcell, 2006

Simmons Sea Skiff, ca. 1950s. Image courtesy of Simmons Sea-Skiff. From 1950 through the 1960s, T. N. Simmons and his son built hundreds of small boats on the North Carolina coast that many regarded as the best sportfishing and recreational power boats available. Never manufactured on a large scale, the vessels were simply purchased shortly after Simmons finished them. He initially used juniper in their construction, though he later switched to mahogany for the frames and 3/8-inch marine plywood for planking. Most models had an outboard motor as well. Although large motors became available and were used on the boat, Simmons insisted that an 18-horsepower engine was the correct size for his unusual skiff.

Simmons sea-skiffs, both beautiful and seaworthy, are regarded as classics by their owners. In the early 2000s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintained three of these boats for use in putting down survey stakes and similar duties; other owners and builders included residents of several foreign countries in addition to those of southeastern North Carolina.


David Carnell, "Mister Simmons' Wonderful Boat," Wildlife in North Carolina (June 1987).

Bob Simpson and Mary Simpson, "In Search of the Simmons Sea Skiff," Small Boat Journal (November 1986).

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Simmons Sea-Skiff:

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Simmons Sea Skiff, ca. 1950s. Image courtesy of Simmons Sea-Skiff (

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