Headquartered in the heart of Tampa, discerning sport fishermen and boating enthusiasts will find the home of world-renowned Sheaffer Boats and The Boat Doctor®, two divisions of Sheaffer Marine, Inc. Owner and president, Ben Sheaffer III is the designer and master boat builder of the popular Sheaffer Center Console Sportfish.
Founded in 1967 as Johnson Boat Repair, the shop became widely known for quality repairs and drew the attention of a national magazine, which dubbed the operation “The Boat Doctor”. The name stuck; it is one of the oldest boat repair facilities in Tampa Bay. Ben Sheaffer worked for The Boat Doctor® throughout high school, learning fiberglass repair and painting techniques. Raised around boats and the marine industry, he knew he wanted to own the shop one day.
Throughout his youth, Ben worked weekends at marinas and boat yards, learning boat handling and the ways of the water. During summer breaks, Sheaffer worked ocean going tug boats in the Gulf, receiving his seaman’s papers at only 15. And, when he wasn’t working, he was fishing and diving, earning his PADI Divemasters certificate at the age of 21. In his early twenties, he received his USCG 100-ton captain’s license, went to navigation school in Norfolk, Va., and obtained his USCG Mate’s Unlimited/any waters license. Later, at the age of 23 he owned a drafting and design company in St. Petersburg, Fla. and honed his boat design skills. Like his father, Ben was drawn to the sea and joined the Merchant Marine. He sailed aboard super tankers, transporting oil from the farthest reaches of the globe. But he never forgot the Boat Doctor®.
In 1989, he returned to Tampa and bought the business he loved. The following year, his father, Ben Jr., a retired Coast Guard captain, marine consultant and engineer, who received his USCG Masters Unlimited license at the age of twenty-six, joined Sheaffer Marine, bringing a wealth of experience to help his son grow the business. Ben’s father had spent a second career in ship engineering, construction and repair, building several oil tankers and specialty ships and later was hired as a consultant by Exxon’s president during the m/v Exxon Valdez salvage operation to raise the ship off Bligh Reef and then repair it in San Diego Ca. He also built and collected antique mahogany speedboats. Needless to say, there was a tremendous amount of boating knowledge between them and they talked often of building the boat that eventually became the Sheaffer Boat.
“We wanted to build a boat with high-tech materials and superior construction techniques that would last and be easy to maintain,” Ben has said. His father didn’t live to see it, but would certainly approve. The “Sr.”, top of the line model designator, is in honor of Ben’s father.
After acquiring The Boat Doctor®, Sheaffer upgraded equipment, introduced new molding techniques, and continues the high-quality standards the company was built on. Many of the original craftsmen have stayed with the Boat Doctor® over the years, continuing the tradition of quality workmanship and bringing decades of experience to each and every job. The shop handles structural and cosmetic fiberglass repairs, boat manufacturer warranty claims and insurance claims, plus installation of accessories, electronics and steering and fuel systems. A broad range of marine supplies and boat parts are also sold.
Quality remains the cornerstone of Sheaffer Marine, Inc. – both in boat repair and in building the renowned Sheaffer Boats.