People & Stories


Statue in Pittsburg, CA., honoring the early Italian fishermen who worked feluccas and later Monterey boats the San Joaquin delta. Good upper body workout, from hauling in gillnets by hand!

The boats were just chunks of wood; the people who made their livings aboard them brought the boats to life and gave them purpose. Here are some of their stories.


Jimmy Hobo

Mark Meltzer remembers a talkative skipper called “Jimmy Hobo”.


Agostino Camello

A boat builder trained in Italy, Mr. Camello explains how Monterey builders really DID work from plans– just not the type that modern draftsmen might recognize!

Camello text link 


James L. Douthit Oral History Collection

In 1973, Jim Douthit made several taped interviews of men who built and sailed the Monterey boats. His collection at the San Francisco Maritime includes his printed transcriptions of these interviews, which I viewed and copied in February 2016. As far as I know, these interviews have never been published before, at least not online.

His collection also includes a number of B&W photos of the interviewees and Monterey boats… I will attempt to match up some of those shots with the texts below… soon…

The entire collection is cited as:
Douthit, James L.; Oral Histories and photographs of the interviewees, 1973; James L. Douthit photographs and oral histories, circa 1965-1975, 1989; P91-058 (SAFR 22588); Box 1, folders 10-11; Museum Archives and Manuscript Collections, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

A finding aid on the Online Archive of California offers significant detail, though you’ll need to visit the Park to see the actual documents:

Please note that these are the recollections and opinions of aging fishermen as put on paper by Douthit, and that the original tapes are not available in the collection. The words are entertaining in places, but some stated facts might bear checking…
Here then are the transcribed interviews:



Rob Tillitz

Rob Tillitz knows fishing and can tell a story (and who knew that fishermen were story tellers??). Read about his novels at .

At that site, also look into these pages:

(p.s., you can kill the music at the bottom of each page…)



Bud Wetton


The Wetton boat, image from NPS

Bud Wetton fished San Francisco Bay with his dad on a Monterey. He donated their famously un-named boat to the San Francisco Maritime park where it has been restored and can be seen today as “the Wetton boat”.

John Kowalla wrote up Bud’s recollections in a document which can be downloaded for free from the Park Service. This document contains a number of photos, as well as a model construction article.  I’ve transcribed the text of Bud’s recollections here:
Bud Wetton’s recollections

The complete original document (about 40MB PDF from the NPS):


“The Monterey Boat” by John Kowalla


Mark M.


The “Josie M”

Mark worked aboard his dad’s boat, the “Josie M”, off the Northern California coast in the 60’s.
Mark’s recollections (updated Feb. 2016; off site).



RC Groups is a forum for R/C modelers. Member “ASBRUNO” from Pittsburg, Ca., posted some family history, “Sacramento River Gillnetters“.
ASBRUNO’s recollections (off site)


Mike McCorkle

Mike has been a commercial fisherman all his life, and works a 1926 Monterey boat out of Santa Barbara. Mike tells all about fishing these and other boats in several chapters of Ed Ries’ book “Looking Astern”, available at Amazon.




Joe DiMaggio’s dad came from Sicily and worked a Monterey boat out of San Francisco. You can ride his boat today! (off site)




2 Responses to People & Stories

  1. Rob Tillitz says:

    Thanks for the compilation, and for the acknowledgement!


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