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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Richard & Arnold
Working Boat Takes a Holiday
March 30, 2016

deck hand on the fishing vessel Richard & Arnold reported an odd phenomenon after his first overnight trip on the boat.

When the fishing boat got back to the dock in Massachusetts, he asked the captain’s wife, “Did you know your husband salutes the sun out there when he gets up in the morning? He takes his hat off, looks at the sky, and says, ‘Good Morning, Sun.‘”

Offering salutations to the sun is a hook to catch people, encouraging them to learn more about a fascinating culture.

The story of the Richard & Arnold is the story of David and Judy Dutra and one that Judy chronicled in her book, Nautical Twilight, a few years ago. The 60-foot boat was built more than 80 years ago, and is still operating as a dragger, making it one of the oldest documented fishing vessels on the East Coast.

This winter, though, the Richard & Arnold, is not dragging the nets, and there’s no fishing in the cold waters near Cape Cod for David.

Instead, David and Judy left Cape Cod behind in October and pointed the Richard & Arnold south. Their working boat has become winter home for them. They had intended to take the ICW to Florida and spend the winter there. But then they arrived in Oriental in early November and tied up to the docks at Garland Fulcher Seafood. They became familiar with the concept of the Oriental Velcro.

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The library/parlor of the Richard & Arnold contains editions of Wooden Boat Magazine. The publication once featured a story on the 88 year-old working trawler, or dragger, as they say in New England.

It is the first big break from fishing that Dave and Judy Dutra are taking in decades. They go back more than 40 years to the summer tourist season when Judy, moved from New Jersey and was waitressing in Provincetown, whose harbor was filled with relatively small, family-owned fishing vessels. When David and Judy met, David was determined that one day he’d be captain of his own boat and not a deck hand on anybody elses. He worked every spare moment to rebuild an old fishing boat.

Together they made the boat seaworthy, married, and in time realized they would need a bigger, better boat to earn a living that would allow them to raise a family in Provincetown.

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A working trawler – distinctively different from other vessels transporting snowbirds.

Enter, the Richard & Arnold.

She’d been built by the Casey Boat Yard in Fair Haven, Massachusetts during the 1920’s, when Prohibition was in place. Judy says that it was commonly acknowledged that New Jersey gangster, Dutch Schultz, had ordered the boat to run rum.

Dutch Schultz also had a vision of wanting an exact half-replica of a Gloucester fishing schooner, sailboats that were a standard 120 feet long with a 30 ft beam. The boat builders followed through, creating a vessel 60 feet long, (52 feet on the water), 15 feet wide, drawing 6 and half feet, and sporting a sailboat’s displacement hull.

But then Prohibition ended, as did the profit in running rum. The boat was finished but had no name, and was left unclaimed at Casey’s.

The half-replica Gloucester schooner spent a few years as an orphan in the 
Fair Haven boat yard. Then, Frank Parsons, a commercial fisherman, bought it, rigged it for fishing, and named it after his two sons, Richard and Arnold. Subsequent owners did not change the name and David also honored that tradition when he acquired it 35 years ago.

He fished, now his own captain. Judy fished with him when she could. She became an RN and was school nurse where their two sons were enrolled.

The family took excursions on the Richard & Arnold. There was a fishing trip followed by a visit to Rhode Island. David and Judy steamed into the Newport harbor to view visiting tall ships from all over the world. Thousands of modern pleasure boats had the same idea and vied for a spot. Newport was so crowded that weekend, vessels in the harbor played “bumper boats.” While some of the crew on the Richard & Arnold wondered if they had a prayer of finding dock space, David seemed undaunted by the mass confusion in the harbor.

He spied just one space at a dock just big enough for them to tie up.

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Similar to most cruisers on the ICW, a computer aids navigation. On the Richard & Arnold, it not only aids navigation; it also helps track fish species and locate underwater objects

Looking at the tiny spot David pointed out, it seemed to Judy that they could just walk across the decks of other boats to to reach that dock. Judy did not hide her apprehension. She asked, “Think we can dock there?” David answered, “We can try.” He and one of his sons had one line tied to the dock, after which a man appeared and distinctly told them they could not tie up there. David apologized. He and the boys immediately began to undo the one line they had secured.

The man walked away, but then turned, and trotted back to the edge of the wharf. “Is that really the Richard & Arnold?”, he asked.

Judy came forward and said, “Yes, it is. We’re from Provincetown. We spent one day fishing on the way but we are trying to make this weekend a family vacation. We want the boys to see the tall ships because we know it is something they will probably never see again. They are so excited.”

The man on the dock walked away, uttering a simple directive to the Richard & Arnold crew, “Tie up and enjoy the weekend.”


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Another custom feature on the Richard & Arnold, probably not found in the pilot houses of other ICW cruisers, comfortable captains’ chairs, straight from a Honda Odyssey that was being fitted with seats for a handicapped driver.

On still another occasion, as the Richard & Arnold made its way into the harbor at Martha’s Vineyard, a small powerboat zipped past them, then around them, before it finally came alongside. The man driving the boat called out, “You know who I am?”

They didn’t. The man in the powerboat faced blank stares and then broke the awkward silence with two words. Judy and David could not believe their ears when he said, “I’m Arnold.”

“He was so thrilled to see the boat,” Judy recalls, “that he had tears in his eyes. He was 83 at the time.”

Another moment of recognition occurred this fall, as Judy and David made their way to the Solomon Islands in Maryland on this journey down the ICW. “We had just passed this beautiful boat, the Rachel Carson . It was on its way out as we were coming in from the Chesapeake. Our radio crackled and we heard, ’Is that the Richard & Arnold heading into the Solomons?’”

“When David answered, the captain of the Rachel Carson said, ‘I’m sitting here reading your wife’s book.’” In 2013 Judy penned Nautical Twilight. The book chronicles David and Judy’s life together on the Cape

The captain of the Rachel Carson subsequently directed them to the University of Maryland docks and told them to tie up there as guests.

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A treasure in the ships log, a reminder of the broad spectrum of appeal and respect for the Richard & Arnold.
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According to David, the power plant is the engine that won World War II. The Detroit 871 operated generators and drove landing craft loaded with both men and heavy equipment through surf and enemy fire to establish beach heads. It is 250HP with eight 71 cubic inch cylinders. Its shaft is connected to a 48-in bronze 4-blade prop, one of many bestowed on Provincetown fishermen by the 7th fleet after WWII.

David is a third generation fisherman. His family immigrated to the US from the Azores off Portugal. He was born and raised in Provincetown. Judy moved to Provincetown from Clifton, New Jersey after that summer of waitressing forty-four years ago. They have two sons, one a master carpenter, one a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy who is a first mate on a tugboat.

David’s salutation to the sun is one of many anecdotes that portray a deep appreciation for and strong connection to all things living, great and small. Judy recalled the day a seagull with a fishing hook in its mouth landed on the deck. David caught the bird and removed the hook. “He did that and that sea gull followed him and the boat around for weeks.”


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The Richard & Arnold also doubles as an art gallery. The aft deck features an original painting of a mermaid. The artist, Chrissy, is a long-time close friend. That friendship was refined when Judy ultimately felt the need to instruct Chrissy on mermaid apparel limitations when she was on board to paint and sketch while the crew fished – or tried to focus on fishing.
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Multiple decades of working in the elements as a commercial fishermen may have impacted David Dutra’s outer epidermis, but not his inner soul.

Describing David, Judy says, “Some times, he can’t sleep at night he is so excited if he is going fishing the next day.” He says, “I work in God’s garden. This is a privilege. You got to work hard to make it work though. Fishing is in my blood. When I bleed, you can see little fish swimming in it. l’m an old man now, and I will have to be dragged off before I quit.”

The by-catch found in each tow often brings up surprises. Like antique bottles. Judy saves them, many in perfect condition. Once part of an airplane was snagged in the net. Squid fishing in Nantucket Sound, they discovered a pair of eye glasses when the catch was dumped on deck.

David was reflective. “Every day is different. There is no normal. I use the same equipment day after day, but change is a constant.”

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The skies and the tides change, but there is no foreseeable change in the role the Richard & Arnold plays for the Dutra family. David points out that the same equipment is used day after day. Controls on the equipment allow the techniques to change, accommodating changeable weather factors and fish habits.

Hair-raising experiences? In a near-sinking at the dock, David observed at the time, “Well, the floorboards are not floating yet.” He succinctly sums up surviving the perils at sea. “God loves me so much. I cry sometimes because he loves me so much.”

Grandchildren now enjoy special days on the water with David. According to Judy, “The grandkids just love what David does, they love David, and they love this boat. The best day we had all summer was the day we had three generations aboard. We’ve also taken Provincetown Boy Scouts out for a day of learning about fishing. It’s really fun to watch the bag get dumped on the deck when the net is pulled in. David is just as excited as the kids to see what’s in it.”
Five years ago, a huge steel-hulled trawler took out the stern of the Richard & Arnold while it was tied to the dock in Provincetown. David recalled, “The men on that boat started screaming at me. One of them yelled that if I had been out fishing instead of tied up at the dock, they wouldn’t have hit me.”

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The last thirty years have created anxiety levels as great as the happiness factor of bygone years. David and Judy, whe are confident of who they are and what they have, cannot describe their good life without drifting into the muddy waters that now envelopes America’s entire fleet of independent, small commercial fishing operations.
“I could see the handwriting on the wall. The men on that boat were stoned. I could picture what would happen to my equipment if I fought the case in court. I was advised to take this boat out somewhere and sink it.”

But he didn’t. David fixed the boat himself. With regulations then limiting his catch, he didn’t need all the space in the hold. “I transformed the hold into better living quarters for Judy. I added a real galley to replace two hot plates. Over time, running hot water and even an air-conditioner.“

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The rebuild after the stern was destroyed created space for a galley. The stove replaced a 2-burner hotplate.
The transformation paved the way for this holiday on the ICW. David explained, “Last winter, we used 7 cords of wood and a barrel of oil to heat our house. I shoveled snow off our walk 14 times. This cruise avoids all that. And we needed a vacation. We are just taking our time to enjoy every little place along the way. I’ll turn back north when it’s time to fish this summer.” ofpmf 2015
As government regulations continually diminished the size of allowable catches, less and less space was needed in the hold. Living quarters expanded into what had been the hold. The permitted smaller catches can easily fit in boxes on deck.

There is another story floating on coastal waters that has been painstakingly written by players with in-congruent perspectives. It’s a story containing plots and counter-plots that have critically impacted the Dutra family and all small fishing communities on the American coast. It’s ominous beginning took place in a meeting for Provincetown commercial fishermen in 1985. A man stood before the group and literally spoke these exact words, “I am from the government and I am here to help you.”

David is a gentle soul. He and Judy are connected to the environment. They profess great love and respect for the planet. Recalling the 30 year aftermath of that meeting, David slams an outstretched hand on a table in the “parlor/library” of the Richard & Arnold. Almost screaming, eyes tightly focused on the listener, he proclaims, “I’m angry.”

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David can manage anxiety with humor. When Marine Fisheries observers come aboard, he labels tools such as shovels – hold other end – to apprise them of how to hold basic implements correctly.
The last thirty years was the impetus for Judy to write Nautical Twilight. It’s not simply an autobiographical account of their life on the water, but an objective, in-depth look at commercial fishing and seafood stock sustainability. It offers a broader perspective on what David labels as greed on and offshore, a lack of common sense exercised by regulatory agencies, flawed research, or no research at all. ofpmf 2015
“I work in God’s garden. I’m an old man now. They will have to drag me off this boat before I will quit.”

Judy acts as a calming agent when David is riled, talking about an industry that reaches far back into his family’s history. For now, this is their bus-man’s holiday.

David summarizes, “This boat could be a tugboat. It has a big transmission connecting power to that 4 ft. propeller. All of its owners have used it for fishing. Over the 35 years I’ve had it, I’ve rebuilt a lot of its parts, always holding on to the original design. It’s a wooden hull that has been glassed over.”

Captain Dave Dutra passed away in June of 2016.

Posted Wednesday March 30, 2016 by Melinda Penkava

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