Bob Hewes, right, accepts the NMMA Lifetime Award, accompanied by long-time friends and fellow innovators Capt. Bill Curtis, left, and Bob Stearns. Photo by Sam Root/ www.saltyshores.com
Boat builder and innovator Bob Hewes, 85, of Miami, received the Lifetime Recognition and Achievement Award from the National Marine Manufacturers Association at the Miami International Boat Show in mid-February.
"Hewes was recognized for his contribution to the marine industry over many years in the business, as a boat builder, as a gentleman who ran a successful boat dealership and whose family has a long history in the marine business," said NMMA Vice President for Southern Shows Cathy Rick-Joule.
Hewes grew up in Miami in a boating family, she said, and his father Lew was a founding member of the Miami Outboard Club, and a participant in the Miami International Boat Show as far back as the 1940s.
Bob Hewes began building wooden boats in the 1950s. By the 1960s he was working in fiberglass and would later develop Kevlar hulls. He sold his creations from his North Miami business, Bob Hewes Boat and Ski Shop which he owned and operated until the mid 1980s, when he sold the boat manufacturing to Maverick Boats and the dealership to his son-in-law, Jim Wiborg.
While the boating community rightly applauds Hewes for his contribution to the industry, several generations of flats fishermen owe him a debt of gratitude as the developer of the first dedicated flats skiff, the Hewes Bonfisher. It was on this boat that the conventions of the sport first appeared, as Hewes worked with local anglers and guides to adapt trim tabs to small hulls and mounted the first poling tower on a skiff, among other innovations. It was Hewes' archetypal flats skiff that has carried thousands of fly and a light tackle anglers on their first foray across the brilliant shallows of South Florida and the Keys, cementing their passion for bonefish and tarpon fishing on the flats and creating an angling specialty and industry truly unique to South Florida.