As the dragger fleet shrank and shrank in recent decades, so did the need for enormous marine railways capable of hauling up 60-foot vessels like Reneva. So Francis John “Grassy” Santos, who took over Flyer’s Boat Shop from his father in 1978, decided in the 1990s to remove one of the two railways his father had built. He replaced it with a robust concrete dock that accommodated a forklift capable of plucking smaller recreational boats right out of the water, or gently setting them in, as shown below. With his son, Noah Santos — representing the third generation at the boatyard — Francis John undertook a major expansion of the dock in 2007.
The concrete dock is far too high out of the water for small boats to berth there. Instead, they use floating docks that are very close to water level, reached by a gangplank from the concrete dock.
At low tide, there’s ample standing room under the dock. “Flyer’s boatyard was the scene of heavy after-hours cruising by gays (such as myself) during the 1980s and 1990s,” said David Jarrett, who owned a home nearby. Francis A. “Flyer” Santos, “an old-line Portuguese who did not appreciate his nightly visitors, installed high-powered night lights, and hired a guard with a dog to patrol the premises,” Peter Manso wrote in Ptown.
Flyer’s proposed a significant new pier and wharf at the end of the dock in 2017.
Flyer’s dock in 2010, photographed by David W. Dunlap from Station Provincetown
A forklift prepares to lower a customer’s boat into the water in April 2010. David W. Dunlap.
A moment-by-moment view of the process. David W. Dunlao (2010).
From under the concrete dock, toward the floating berths. David W. Dunlap (2018).
The gangplank at the end of the dock, leading to the floating dock. David W. Dunlap (2010).
¶ Last updated on 15 January 2019.
131A Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 131A Commercial Street:
Flyer’s Boat Rental | Flyer’s Boat Shop (General article).
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2010, by David W. Dunlap.