Bay Weld Boats

Bayweld Boats Hero

The shop is loud. Metal screams on metal. Chop saws, band saws, air saws, table saws, skilsaws, drills, grinders, and welders all sculpt, slice, and meld aluminum plate and extrusion into boats for Alaska’s most discerning captains.


If you know what to listen for you can tell which part of the boat is being built just by the sound. Relentless sanders in the North Bay say that a boat is about to go to paint. The fast chunking of the break means fabricators are putting flangers on the stiffeners of a new hull. The constant buzz of a welder means…well, actually that sound never really stops.

Each boat is different. Bay Welding in Homer builds custom aluminum vessels, with an emphasis on the custom, yet they all share the same DNA. Prominent, muscular bows and railings guard the cabins like a knight’s helmet. Forward-leaning windshields lend each boat an aggressive look like they are charging. Characteristic swoops cut into the back of the cabin convey elegance and speed. And the big Suzuki outboards on the back – your average 30-foot gets close to a 50 knot top speed – back that up.

When you hear the words “I bought a boat” in the lower 48 you might think of a party pontoon for a summer lake cabin, a bass boat, or even a floating white luxury hotel down in Ft. Lauderdale. But Alaska is a different world. A boat means more to the people here than a way to party in the sun.

“In Alaska when you buy a boat, it is your access to the best parts of Alaska. It is freedom. It says ‘I can go anywhere,’” says Dan Rainwater, who is both a master welder–fabricator at Bay Welding and the son of one of Homer’s first homesteader families. “An Alaskan boat is a lot different than what you get down in the Lower 48. Down there you’ve got bass boats, flat bottom boats. Everything down there is tricked out, fancy, lightweight. Here what’s important has a lot more to do with dependability. Safety. Range. You’re going to be way out there on your own. We build them stronger and with more stability in mind.”

A builder in Florida or Southern California doesn’t understand what is needed to run a boat to Kodiak, prowl the beach in seven-footers, hang several deer and halibut over the back deck, and make the return trip to Homer. Their boats don’t have to haul commercial pot fish and building supplies to remote cabins. They don’t have to keep a cabin a comfortable temperature in hot summers and frigid winters.

Record tides, little access to medical and rescue services, and dangerously cold water temperatures are the norm for even the most civilized parts of the state. Those who know these waters know why commercial fishing in Alaska was recently identified as the deadliest job in America. In this environment, Bay Weld’s fishing DNA sets it apart as the place to go in the North Pacific for less than two dozen customers a year.

There wasn’t much in the way of frivolous businesses back in the early 70s when people in Homer were just trying to survive. Your business either literally put food on the table as a fisherman or rancher or serviced one that did. Allen Engebretsen did both. He started fishing salmon, herring, and halibut with his father as a teenager.

In the winters he built boats under the guidance of George Hamm and serviced fishing vessels with his welder. Welding on the grid at the Homer harbor was cold, miserable, and wet, but it was consistent work that could even out the financial highs and lows of commercial fishing. He named his business Bay Welding.

"In Alaska when you buy a boat,
it is your access to the best parts of Alaska.
It is freedom. It says ‘I can go anywhere'."

Record tides, little access to medical and rescue services, and dangerously cold water temperatures are the norm for even the most civilized parts of the state. Those who know these waters know why commercial fishing in Alaska was recently identified as the deadliest job in America. In this environment, Bay Weld’s fishing DNA sets it apart as the place to go in the North Pacific for less than two dozen customers a year.

There wasn’t much in the way of frivolous businesses back in the early 70s when people in Homer were just trying to survive. Your business either literally put food on the table as a fisherman or rancher or serviced one that did. Allen Engebretsen did both. He started fishing salmon, herring, and halibut with his father as a teenager.

In the winters he built boats under the guidance of George Hamm and serviced fishing vessels with his welder. Welding on the grid at the Homer harbor was cold, miserable, and wet, but it was consistent work that could even out the financial highs and lows of commercial fishing. He named his business Bay Welding.

Bayweld Boats 2-1
Bayweld Boats 2-2

Eric, his son, spent his first full summer fishing at the tender age of five and didn’t miss a salmon season until he quit at 28 to work full-time with his father. Eric took over as general manager in the early 2000s and grew Bay Welding, which at that time mainly serviced and built power skiffs, into the soup-to-nuts custom builder it is today.

But the fishing experience doesn’t stop with ownership, and the craftsmen who build these boats put their knowledge of Alaska’s waters into each build. The welders, fabricators, and outfitters that build the boats aren’t just students of construction; they’re practicing captains and crew.

Bryan Baker captained sport fishing charters out of Homer for many years and oversees the outfitting of Bay Weld’s custom sport boats. “When we put together a boat we know how they will use the back deck for fishing. I know the space they need to pull a big halibut onto the boat and also where to put seats to give guests the level of comfort they want.”

To Camron Hagen, a welder and captain of the F/V Kachemak Provider, it’s pretty simple: “When you live a quarter of your life on the water you tend to know what’s functional and what’s not.”

Bayweld Boats 3

Shop Workwear Collection

Bayweld Boats Shop Shop C.C.F. Workwear