Maine Yacht Center in Portland has had a very busy summer and fall. Brian Harris, who heads the yard, said, “We had several large projects here for service and refit work in preparations for boats going south. We had 100 foot sloop here for the majority of the summer, getting work on to go south. Mostly systems related and generator work; electronics, mast wiring, rigging work, just a wide variety of items. We had an 80 foot sloop in for the majority of the fall. Again, mostly systems related and deck hardware work. That boat is also getting ready to go south next week (end of October).
Some of the most interesting work they do is on the Class 40 racers. “We got PRIVATEER 109 here, which is a Bruce Farr design built by Cookson in New Zealand, which has been here all fall for refit. That included new batteries, new solar panels, new hydro-generators, mast modifications and bottom job. That boat is going in the water next week to go south.
Brian added, “We have been really busy, unusually busy, with boats in preparation for going south. Which is stuff we don’t normally do. I think there’s just so many boats that are moving around now that there’s more work to go around. We haven’t done anything to seek it out or anything like that.”
I believe it is related to their reputation as one of the pre-eminent yards on the coast, especially related to sailboats, cruisers and racers.
While they were in the middle of getting these boats finished up so they could head south, they were also in the middle of hauling their storage customers. They are full, even the lot they leased to the west of them near the B&M Baked Bean plant. At the end of October they had about 75 percent of the boats hauled up.
As for work this winter, they have 58 foot fiberglass Alden Challenger ketch, built by Hodgdon. That is in for a cosmetic refit, plus paint and varnish, new charging system and batteries. Then they have a Sabre 42 sailboat that wants to get optimized for the Bermuda Race, so they are bringing that boat up to some performance standards. This includes a repower. They also have a 46-foot sailboat that needs a bottom job and paint this winter. A Hinckley 48 is in and she needs a paint job.
Brian is making sure that he does not take on too much extra winter work. As he said, “Take on too much of these 1000 hour service refit projects and all the sudden you don’t have enough available labor resources to service your storage customers. I’d rather turn away one refit job and make 100 storage customers happy than the opposite.”
Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol is getting busier and busier. Mike Tatro added, “We have got a couple big rigging refits, both on Aldens. We have got a woodworking refit in the pilothouse on a Norther Bay 36.
Like all the yards on the coast, they were right in the middle of hauling season. Mike said, “We are up on the sailboats. We picked up an Alden 54, there was only a couple of those built, and she is potentially a repower, new genset, big rigging job.
Awlgrip will be busy again this winter with a number of mid-sized projects, 25 to 35 feet.
They have also been converting shipping containers into usable structures. These are small, 16 or 19 feet x 8 feet. They converted one into a kiosk, and another into a private closet for a person who flies coast to coast all the time. Right now they are doing one for Rwanda Coffee Bean, which is a full service coffee shop; and some work containers for a couple different organizations that want on site work containers. Mike added, “We just take containers and change them to be whatever the client wants. It looks like we are going to do one for Starbucks and another for Helly Hansen with a fold down front so it’s a show booth. It’s portable so they can take it to shows and they just open it up and they are ready to go.
They also recently hired on another diesel tech, who started the end of October. Mike said it was not easy to find him, but he was more than happy he did as he has the work to keep him busy. One boat that he will be working on the launch at Sebasco Estates, named RUTH. She is an old T-boat, probably around 85 years old. They will be rebuilding her Ford Lehman and then adding new tankage, new glass, and a few other things.
Padebco Boat Yard and Custom Boatbuilders in Round Pond was in the midst of hauling boat and getting ready for a winter and spring’s worth of work.
For new construction, they are expecting to build two Padebco 23s this year.
As for other work, they have a 33 foot Wasque that they are doing a full renovation on. They have a Marshall 24 that is going to be engine out and refurbishing that engine. They have a Padebco 32 that is going to be two engines out, replace fuel tanks and put engines back in. Probably the biggest project this winter is on a Padebco 27. This was a project that was supposed to be done last year, but they could not get ahold of two 200 hp Yamahas in time to do it. She currently is powered with Yanmar diesel to Hamilton Jet Drives. That power plant is coming out and they are putting an extension on and then installing twin Yamaha 200s with Seastars Optimist 360 joystick docking control system. They were able to do the electronics last year so she has got a 22-inch screen for the chartplotter/radar overlay and they will be adding to that system this year. They have got a 38 foot ketch that went aground over in Camden. The owner did not realize how bad, but did complain about their bilge pump working overtime. They yard convinced them to haul the boat even though it cut their vacation short and discovered that they were going to need to replace the keel, because it was set back about ½-inch. They also know that there will be additional work making repairs to the internal structure of the hull. They have a 26 Pearson, which when they lifted the boat up this year to launch her the keel moved. So she was put back in the yard and this winter they will remove the keel and see about making her solid again.
A 26-foot powerboat has arrived, which they will be finishing off. Leon McCorkle, owner of the yard, said, “I am going to be optimistic and say the boat is 70 percent complete. So, we probably have two or three months of work to put her together.
In their shop down on the shore, they have a 36 foot Tiara, which in the past repowered with twin diesels and then made it into an express cruiser with a flybridge. This winter they will be going through the engines and drivetrain because he went aground and it is not quite right. They have gone through the entire drivetrain and the engines. The engines are getting detailed, some repairs done, and then set back in. Then they are stripping the bottom, putting Epoxy barrier coat on then repainting.
They just finished up refurbishing a Doughdish and for the same owner they redid a Rozinante. Leon added, “He is a bit of a Herreshoff guy. He brought the Rozinante in and we were brokering it. It was a bit rough, lovingly neglected, and it lost its charm, but I convinced him to put a little money into it, paint the topsides, paint the decks, redo the varnish and she would sell easier. He came in to see it and fell in love with it all over again. So, he’s decided to keep it.”
Last year they began making changes to their storage and work space up on Route 32. Last year they took their cold storage building with a dirt floor and no insulation and put in concrete floor with radiant heat, full insulation and LED lighting. This gave them 5000 square feet of indoor heated space and doubles as a work bay. Then over last winter they built a 10,000 square foot building, which was married to their other storage building on the site. When this is all done the building will be 15,000 square feet. She is not yet finished, but they do have the insulation up and so they are using it for cold storage. However, next season they will put in a cement floor with radiant heat and put on the doors. They have room for another two storage buildings and they will go up as the need arrives. Right now they are growing by 15 or 20 boats a year so it will not be long before the need is there.
To get all the storage boats ready for next season, they will move boats in and out of the heated bay and by spring a majority will be ready for the water.
Hutchinson Composites in Cushing completed a Mussel Ridge 46 for John Farrell, former manager of the Boston Red Sox, who is now fishing out of Gloucester. She is powered with a 800 Volvo and has a 9-kW generator. Down below she has a three bunks, head and shower, with galley up in the wheelhouse. The galley contains a cook stove, countertop and seating arrangements in the split wheelhouse. Under the platform there are tanks for 15 crates of lobsters, 800 gallons of fuel and 120 gallons of water. The top end was 23 knots with a cruise speed of 17 at 2100 RPMs and burning 20 gallons an hour. John was so happy with the boat that he is talking about ordering another one. This one would be a Mussel Ridge 42, finished out as a sportfisherman, which he could take down to the islands for the winter.
They have a 46 being finished out as a shark/crab boat for a fisherman down in Florida. Then they have a sportfishing boat going to Texas in a year. They have got two 54s sold, just having issues trying to find finish shops to put the boats in. Albert Hutchinson, owner of the company, said, “That is the big problem. We don’t have a problem selling boats, it’s just finding a place to put them to be finished.”