John La Mond’s Favorite Boat: The Jersey Speed Skiff [GALLERY]
When I was growing up, my uncle Jack owned a home on the ocean in Seabright, N.J. I have so many fantastic memories of summertime on the Jersey Shore. My uncle’s house was pretty incredible because in the front you had the ocean, and in his backyard there was the river where he kept his two boats. He had a small fishing boat and a slightly larger craft that held about six people. They both were outfitted with Mercury outboard motors. Uncle Jack was a big fan of that brand. My cousins Chris and Richie would always give me “hell rides” in those boats. I think that is probably the reason why to this day, I do not get seasick. I was trained at a very early age.
Because my cousins lived in Northern New Jersey, they were able to get to uncle Jack’s house a lot more often than me. Chris and Richie were crazy about boats. The type of boat that really excited us was the “JS” boat or Jersey Speed Skiff. We could hear these JS boats coming down the river for at least a good minute before you could actually see them on the horizon. When we would hear them on the river, we would often stop what we were doing just to watch the JS boats go by as we stared in complete awe.
The JS boats are indigenous to Northern New Jersey where they were developed in the 1920’s. During prohibition, they were favored for transporting illegal booze because they could always outrun the cops. A Jersey Speed Skiff is about 16-feet long and about 8-feet wide. They are usually powered by a small-block Chevy engine, usually a 283 or a 327 cubic inch. Later model JS boats were known to use the Chevy 350 and even the 305. The Jersey Speed Skiff’s are light and very fast. The average JS boat can do 60 to 70 miles per hour on the water, and some are capable of 100 plus. The Jersey Speed Skiff is a racing boat all the way. They are probably a bit impractical for boating on Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, but for river racing or small lakes, they will do just fine.
I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but for some reason I would love to own a Jersey Speed Skiff. This is the boat that takes me back to my childhood with lots of memories of the Jersey Shore.