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Dec 9, 2008 6:48 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Boat that inspired "Jaws" to go on the auction block

Dec 9, 2008 6:48 AM

One of Montauk’s most famous fishing vessels, the legendary Capt. Frank Mundus’s charter boat, Cricket II, will be sold at auction this winter.

After Capt. Mundus’s death on September 10, his widow, Jeanette, decided to sell the boat aboard which her husband earned a reputation as one of Montauk’s most colorful and successful charter fishermen. Hoping to cash in on some of his celebrity, Mrs. Mundus has put the boat up for auction through a Long Island firm, David R. Maltz and Company.

Company vice president Richard Maltz said Mrs. Mundus had told him that her husband had long wanted to sell the boat. The auction will open on January 14 and run through February 4. Bids will be entered exclusively online. Those wishing to bid on the Cricket II must register with the company and submit a certified bank check for $5,000.

Mr. Maltz said the opening bid will be $25,000 but he couldn’t guess how high the price might go at auction. It was appraised by a professional marine surveyor at $28,000.

“It certainly should be well in excess of what its value would be if it wasn’t Frank’s boat,” Mr. Maltz said. “The celebrity could make it a great collector’s item or maybe the ideal thing for someone who wants to run charters on it again.”

The Cricket II is currently on blocks at Uihlien’s Marina in Montauk and will be available for viewing by perspective bidders.

The 40-foot Cricket II was built in 1947 in Virginia. She was brought to Montauk by Capt. Mundus, with his family aboard, in 1951 from New Jersey, where had been based previously.

Aboard her broad wooden decks, Capt. Mundus honed the art of hunting sharks. His bloody displays of shark carcasses, which he towed back to the dock and hung off the Cricket II’s transom, justified the name he called himself, “Monster Man.” He advertised his trips as “Monster Fishing” expeditions with a large sign hung from the boat’s superstructure. In 1986, he and angler Donnie Braddick and two other men caught a 3,400-pound great white shark, the largest fish ever caught on rod-and-reel.

Capt. Mundus is said to have been the inspiration for the character of Quint, the grizzled shark-obsessed fisherman in Peter Benchley’s novel, “Jaws,” played by Robert Shaw in the movie.

After losing his charter fishing license because of what was called a paperwork error in 1991, Capt. Mundus moved to Hawaii and tried to sell the Cricket II. The deal fell apart and, instead, he leased the boat to another charter captain. Capt. Mundus began returning to Montauk for a month each summer to ride along on shark fishing charters.

The Cricket II is outfitted with a single 435-horsepower diesel engine that pushes the boat at about 14 knots. Her hull is constructed of yellow pine and is fitted with an aluminum bow pulpit of the type once commonly used for harpooning swordfish and large tuna.

The auction for the Cricket II will include some of the boat’s fishing equipment, including a cloth sail, the boat’s original fighting chair (the one from which Capt. Braddick fought the record white shark), a bucket painted with the words “Monster Mash”—the name Capt. Mundus gave to the special concoction of ground up fish parts he used to attract sharks—and a garbage can painted with the words “Monster Trash.”

Mr. Maltz said that registration for the auction will begin on December 15.

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