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News & Events2018-12-11T20:24:06+00:00

New skiff from a Hell’s Bay founder

by Capt. Greg Poland, GregPoland.com I met Hal Chittum when I was about 14years old. Out fishing with my cousin near a place called the Sandy Key Basin, I didn't know that the guy was going to have an impact on sport fishing as I grew into the world of being a guide in the Florida Keys. We were just 2 kids out in a Boston Whaler doing what kids did best; fishing for whatever we caught wherever we could catch it. We didn't actually know the name of the Basin until the guy told us. Although we didn't know him personally, we did know he was a "Fishing Guide" and word 'on the street' was that he was one of the best. I remember him poling over to us that day and asking us if we were guides. When we told him -- a bit shyly -- that we weren't, he told us that we had better get out of there, because it was patrolled by Park Rangers and if we were found in there we would get tickets; you had to be a guide to fish there. It wasn't until later I realized it was an ingenious way to chase two passionate kids out of a superb spot to catch tarpon on a flyrod. Years later, after a successful stint at his retail stores (HT Chittum & Co.), Hal, a fisherman by the name of Flip Pallot, and [...]

Hal Chittum pursues perfection with his flats boats

by Jim Sutton, 2011, Jacksonville.com Hal Chittum sits beside an old desk in a stark office at the corner of a plain white building on the San Sebastian River. He talks about his life and his boats. They’re pretty much the same thing. Through a window behind him, you can see workers rigging a new boat, grinding and drilling. He wipes the dust of several weird composites from the desk as he speaks, patting off the residue of what he calls the most technical flats boat in the world onto his pants leg. Chittum’s known as the mad scientist of flats boat design. He probably likes it. He is a partner in a new boat-building business, Chittum Skiffs. It was a long time coming. Chittum went to college, got a degree and headed to the Florida Keys to become a flats guide. It’s a career path of abject envy for mortal men. He became one of the best around, under the tutelage of the famous Keys guide Jimmy Albright. That historic gathering of flats guides included some of the best there ever were, with names like Stu Apte, Woody Sexton, Cal Cochran and Harry Snow Jr. Chittum guided for about 15 years. Along the way, he founded the famous South Florida saltwater fishing tackle chain, H T Chittum & Co. Because he spent so much time on flats boats, their shortcomings bugged him. That led him to gather some partners [...]

The bar has been raised

by Capt. Jan Lemieux, Microskiff.com With current economic trends to downsize and “do more with less”, cautious souls might be inclined to hunker down and wait ‘till things improve a bit before exploring new ventures. Not Hal Chittum, world-renowned guide and founder of Hells Bay Boats. Nope, Hal does a 360° from conventional wisdom and starts a new boat business with an ultra, high-end skiff – the Islamorada 18 -- that, according to Chittum, raises the bar for flats skiff manufacturing technology and on-water performance. From the surface, the Islamorada 18 looks like a typical flats skiff: length 18’, beam 80”, and 12 degrees of deadrise at the transom. It’s when we looked under the surface that we began to realize something is drastically different about this boat. For example, the dry weight of the complete hull is around 400-pounds. This isn’t an empty shell weight, this is every laminated component bonded to the hull. This includes the hull, deck, top cap, hatch covers and console. To obtain these numbers required a radical change in the typical process of building a skiff. Hal and George Sawley looked to racing sailboats and offshore powerboats for the technology to build their skiff. To take the skiff from concept to mold Hal hired a team of naval architects from Vectorworks Marine. With their experience designing everything from luxury yachts to sophisticated Special Forces crafts, a flats skiff should be a no brainier. Yet [...]