Ritchie Howell is perhaps one of the most interesting builders in sportfishing. While Ritchie is a pleasure to talk to, his boats speak for themselves. In this Dock Talk, Howell breaks down his boat building philosophy and describes all that goes in to making a Ritchie boat.
Builder Ritchie Howell provides a guided walk through of the “Galatea”— a 60′ vessel he built seven years ago. Listed with Michael Rafferty of IYC, the Galatea is a beautiful boat whose story is told by the man who built her.
by Capt. Jen Copeland
When the owner of Canyon Runner Charters, Captain Adam LaRosa, sends a message nominating one of his captains be featured in a future Young Guns expose’, it’s quite an endorsement. Rarely does an owner have the time to read such features, but to have him take the time to describe his captain is inspiring. Originally from Westport, Connecticut, Captain Deane Lambros, one of our younger guns, runs and oversees much of the Canyon Runner operations – from maintenance to charter trips. Deane has worked for the company since he was 19.
Six years ago, Lambros was in the middle of an oil change when Mr. LaRosa approached him with an opportunity that changed his life. One of the Runner’s captains was unable to make a scheduled trip and LaRosa asked if 22-year-old Deane was comfortable running the boat. Without hesitation, his answer was an unequivocal, “Yes.”
With three years of training fresh in his mind, Captain Deane took the helm of his first Canyon Runner charter. Banking on the confidence LaRosa had in him, and remembering the old adage “safety first,” Lambros managed to keep it together enough to produce a successful trip. “Being totally in charge for the first time was a real challenge,” says Lambros. The young captain recalls being a bit out of his comfort zone on his first trip. “I was dealing with fog and trying to keep the anxiety at bay, all the while smiling and producing bites,” he recalls. Lambros’ pep talk to himself that day was a familiar one to anyone who makes a living in this line of work – one that we all have to occasionally remind ourselves of. “We’re just going fishing.”
Today with 300+ giant tunas to his credit, some 15,000 hours of wheel time, and over ten top three tournament finishes under his belt, Captain Deane has put the work in by fishing hard, fishing fast and having fun while doing it. All traits of a great captain… traits he learned at Canyon Runner. At 28, Captain Deane Lambros names nearly all past and present Canyon Runner captains as his professional influences – each bringing certain philosophies and skills to Deane’s attention. From the knowledge he’s gained at Canyon Runner, he is able to understand the needs of his charters and is confident in the critical decisions that must be made day after day. As importantly, Lambros reads between the boss’ lines in order to compliment his personality and smoothly run a business in the aggressive northeast charter industry.
No matter how grateful he may be to the “A” list of qualified professional influences, Deane gives the first and foremost credit to his parents for the example they’ve set. According to Lambros, it was his parents who “rigorously reinforced” a strong and honest work ethic during his childhood. His father, who still works full-time at age 86, continues to lead by example to this day.
Lambros takes his job very seriously – something all prospective captains should aspire to do. He believes young men need to prove themselves to others by demonstrating they are polished, conscientious and driven. “It’s refreshing to see a young person wanting to be part of a team and asking questions with a willingness to learn, and if you put in the effort, you will succeed.”
Mates who put safety first and represent themselves in a manner which is non-threatening to the charter guests are an important part of the customer experience. For a charter operation, those who can’t relate with people put themselves out of the running for advancement. Whether charter or private, a young mate’s attitude toward his job is a direct reflection of himself. According to Deane, “There isn’t a single boat owner who wants a reckless, unprofessional captain running their boat.”
Captain Deane Lambros’ professional philosophy is one that sets him well for decades to come. His outlook is characterized by a high level of organizational skill, situational awareness, and an ability to “play well with others.” He executes a meticulous maintenance schedule that ensures tools and spare parts for repairs on the fly are readily available, keeping the program seamless and uninterrupted.
Mature and well-spoken, Lambros’ level-headed personality has allowed him to rise up quickly in LaRosa’s army of Canyon Runners. “I have been able to accomplish in ten years at Canyon Runner what may have taken me 30 years in the private sector,” he says. “Joining a charter program will plain and simply give you a fast learning curve.”
For a young man not yet 30, Lambros’ candid understanding of what it takes to succeed in his line of work is impressive. “Charter fishing is an industry of customer service,” Deane insists. “We are expectation managers. You must know what is expected of you by the owner, the guests, and the crew. You then draw from past experiences when the weather gets dicey, the fish get finicky or the boat breaks down.” Captain Deane fully understands the many facets that go along with charter fishing. There is little doubt that owner Adam LaRosa is thankful for this—perhaps that encouraged Deane’s nomination.
The Waste Knot sank to the bottom about 11 miles out of Oregon Inlet. Thanks to its airing on the show Wicked Tuna, the boat’s sinking became instantly famous. While companion boats rushed to rescue the captain and crew (thankfully, all aboard were evacuated safely), the boat itself was thought to be a total loss.
Several days later, the vessel washed ashore in the Outer Banks. The hull was intact, but the bridge was knocked off. The vessel sank as a result of hitting something at speed. The collision rammed the boat’s rudders through the hull, creating two large holes. Upon washing up on the beach, the hull was removed using heavy equipment.
Carolina custom boat builder Ritchie Howell purchased the hull with plans to resurrect the vessel into a charter boat. The Waste Knot currently sits at Howell’s facility in Wanchese, North Carolina. He plans to begin the boat’s rebirth in the fall of 2016. When the boat is reborn– considering Ritchie Howell’s standard of quality it should be something to see– it will fish out of North Carolina. Here are some photos of the vessel in its current form.
Thankfully all aboard were able to depart the vessel without injury. The photos serve as a reminder as to how fast things can go wrong, even for the best, most attentive of crews. Stay tuned to InTheBite.com for photos and updates as the project develops.