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Ronald “Ronnie” Bosarge

Ronnie Bosarge learned the craft of boat building at an early age from his uncle, Laz Bosarge. Born in 1937, he built his first skiff before he reached his teen years. When outboards were becoming more popular, he designed a Lafitte skiff with the well and platform on the stern to make it safer and easier to use. Such was his skill that he built a wide variety of vessels from 12-foot skiffs to 55-foot luggers. For more than fifty years, his yard would hold at least one, but often several boats at various stages of building. Beginning by building a model, Ronnie would then draw out his plans on a sheet of plywood to lay the frames out. There were always a couple of “jigs” (a form used to follow for proper curvature of the hull) in the yard, ready to frame the boats. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, his favored Lafitte skiffs were in high demand. His yard provided ample shade from his old pecan trees, and neighbors would often gather just to see what Ronnie was working on. But he often worked on the Back Bay shipyards doing repairs on other vessels, predominantly shrimp boats.

In 1980, he brought home a keel to build a 55-foot long by 19-foot-wide lugger. For three years he framed and planked it. To make the tough bends of the planks, he would use a large pipe with one end open, fill it with water which he heated with a lighted fire underneath. This innovative and determined approach was even more evident when he was ready to move the completed boat down the narrow streets of D’Iberville to the St. Martin Bayou for its first launch. The local newspapers headlined the feat “Bosarge Moves Boat with Doubt from Neighbors”. But the task was accomplished with the help of a house mover and boom truck lifting it to make the sharp turn to get it on the street.

One of the final boats built by Ronnie before his retirement was a 45-foot tour boat approved for fifty passengers. Together with his nephews, he conducted many “carport meetings” with the Coast Guard to ensure it would pass CG Certification requirements.  

Many a boat was built by the skilled boat builder over the years, and many a “worm drive saw” tired long before its operator. Ronnie Bosarge’s vast contribution to the Maritime & Seafood Industry is recognized by his induction into our Heritage Hall of Fame.


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