Pete Shea’s passion for boats began with a 25-cent raffle investment. “I put in a nickel, and my father pitched in 20 cents for an 8-foot plywood pram at the Annisquam Sea Fair around 1948,” Shea recalls. “We used it to go clamming almost every weekend.”
Shea fell in love with boats and being on the water, and his passion eventually collided with the rush that comes when a bluefish or striped bass runs off drag. “I bought a 1958 19-foot Lyman Islander for $500 in my early 20s and then tried to figure out how to catch fish around Gloucester, Massachusetts,” he says. “I had no idea what I was doing. Eventually, I had two or three friends who came along. Once we figured out how to make the engine run long enough to get out to the lighthouse, we caught flounder. Then we learned how to catch bluefish.”
As his fishing improved, so did the quality of his boats. A 30-foot Broadwater followed the Lyman, as did a 22-foot Sisu, an Eastern 31 Casco Bay and a 43-foot Post that he and a partner offered for charters. Shea also owned a Webbers Cove 34 and a couple of Mitchell Cove models. “We did a lot of great fishing off those boats,” he says, “but my current boat is one of my favorites.”
Irish Fin is a 23-foot Glenn Bradley built in Wanchese, North Carolina. Shea found her in 2015 in South Florida. “I saw an ad for her and asked a buddy to come have a look with me,” he says. “I saw the boat up on a lift and fell in love immediately.” Shea says the outboard had just 175 hours on it, and the boat was being offered at a price he couldn’t resist.
The hull, with its signature Carolina bow flare and tumblehome stern, was cold-molded with Atlantic white cedar using a custom jig. “The fit and finish are among the best I’ve seen,” Shea says. “There’s plenty of room for fishing from bow to stern. I like how uncluttered the whole layout is.”
Irish Fin’s Yamaha F250 is mounted on a jack plate, and Shea says she cruises in the mid-20-mph range and tops out in the upper 30s. With an 8-foot, 6-inch beam, she’s trailerable between Shea’s winter home in Key West, Florida, and his summer place in the Annisquam area of Gloucester. “It’s an incredible boat with a great ride for both places,” he says. “It’s a great boat to fish from in almost any weather.”
When he’s not running Irish Fin, the 80-year-old retired attorney pulls lobster pots and rakes quahogs from a 16-foot Stur-Dee Amesbury dory. “It’s a great life being on the water,” Shea says. “I’m so lucky to be able to enjoy it at my age. Having the right boat always helps.”