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With his father, uncle and brother all carving decoys and boats, Heber naturally inherited the tradition. Growing up on Harkers Island also exposed him to boat builders.
"I remember gong over to their boat shops and seeing what they were doing, and it got my curiosity up," he said. "How do they take a pile of lumber and end up with a 50 foot yacht or something?"
Heber developed more of an interest when he was around 12 or 13, at first playing with toy boats, which he and his friends would put on a string and sail them up and down the shoreline. As he grew older, he began making model boats himself, and when he became an adult, he began making trawlers and sailboats. Selling his boats to fishermen often helped him pay for his expenses to continue his craft.
He began carving decoys in 1994 after he and his son joined a craft guild. He and his son have a special partnership--Heber carves the decoys, and his son paints them. He feels that it's very important that his generation tell their children about the coastal traditions.
"If my generation doesn't show them how it's done, then they're not gonna know, and they're not gonna pass it on to their generation," he said. "There's all sorts of crafts that people do who've learned from their parents and grandparents, and I think it's great that they show their son or daughter and carry it on."
Most of all, Heber loves the beauty of a handcrafted boat. Because of the tourism and the reputation of the area for sport fishing, Heber knows that he will always be able to make a living off of making boats. "I guess it's just something in my blood, but I love to see a boat," he said. "I love the smell of the wood and paint, and they're just beautiful running on water."