- Associated Press - Sunday, February 18, 2018

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Hailey Moore and her dad were watching a fishing show on television one day last year. Two wheelchair-bound anglers were fishing from the shoreline of a pond.

They were having fun and catching a few fish, but Hailey thought their situation was stagnant.

“She turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t you build a boat to take people like that fishing?’ It was all her idea,” Ed Moore said of his 15-year-old daughter. “The whole idea was hers.”

The Moores and a group of friends immediately jumped on the task of designing, raising funds for and building what amounts to a small landing craft. It can pull up to a boat ramp or shoreline and lower its bow, like some larger Navy vessels, so that anglers can make their way onto the deck.

Father and daughter started the nonprofit Veterans Fishing Adventure before construction was finished. He plans to work with several wounded veteran organizations to set up trips and expects to go out as often as weather permits. With just one boat, most of his operations will be centered on Northern Virginia, but he isn’t opposed to traveling for the right situation.

“It’s really not our boat,” said Ed Moore, who hails from Mount Vernon. “It’s the vets’ boat. It’s all about the guys and girls who served our country.” He said he worries about the suicide rate for veterans. “If we can change things for one person, we’ve done our job.”

The vessel was built by Battle Boats of Hopewell, which constructs custom vessels for fire and rescue organizations. It is built with ballistic-grade aluminum - which maintains its strength during welding - and is double-hulled for safety.

The 29-footer is powered by a 500-horsepower Corvette engine block attached to a Jet Pack water propulsion system that enables it to run in shallow water. The boat has a heated and air-conditioned cabin. Every gap in the hull is filled with marine foam to prevent the boat from sinking.

Moore said he invested about $125,000 of his own money, and Battle Boats probably has put $200,000 or more into the project.

“There’s no telling what this thing is worth,” Moore said. “It doesn’t matter. We’re hoping to eventually put about 20 of these up and down the East Coast to serve our guys.”

Moore is one of those guys. He served in the Marines and was medically discharged in 2004 after blowing out a hamstring tendon. He served 14 years and now runs a tree service.

But his dedication to the military and its people has never waned.

“What he’s doing is a great thing,” said Battle Boats owner Nathan Grubb. “I have to think he’s got a great deal going because of all the time we put into this boat.

“He’s got one heck of a network that supports what he’s doing. I’m honored to be a part of it. “

Grubb said the project came with several challenges he hasn’t dealt with during his six years in business.

“This boat is kind of like a Transformer,” Grubb said, referencing the movie series about giant robots. “Every part can be changed based on the day and who he has on board.”

Moore already has had close to 100 veterans on his boat, either fishing or just for a ride.

“The look on their faces to get out on the water and away from all of their challenges,” Moore said. “We had a World War II vet who stormed Normandy on the boat, and it meant the world to him to get out on the water.

“Am I excited? No. Ecstatic? No. I don’t even know what you’d call how I feel about where we’re headed.”

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