Steve Budrow, a commercial lobsterman from Rockport, MA, had been talking with Mike Hooper of Mainely Boats for a couple of years. The initial conversation was that Steve was interested in bringing up his Young Brothers 45 to have her repowered with an engine he had purchased at the Maine Fisherman’s Forum a couple of years ago. Steve began thinking about the boat and did not like some of her characteristics and began thinking it would be better to build a new boat that could easily fish offshore. He searched for a hull and ended up ordering a Libby 47 from East Side Boat Shop in East Machias. Then in late May over went MARY B., Steve’s new lobster boat.
The hull arrived at Mainely Boats last May, but they were busy trying to finish up a couple of other ongoing projects so it was not moved into the shop until August.
Mike said, “She is finished off as a split wheelhouse lobster boat. We have a live well tank under the deck, two spray tanks, four storage lockers, big rope locker, 600 gallons of fuel, a V-berth with a double-set of bunks, fridge, had a generator. It is set up real well if you want to stay overnight. Marine Light windows, we did Bomar doors, the hydraulics came from Lonnie’s Hydraulics and Clark Island Boat and Mark’s Metal did the fabrication. We are using hatches out of Skipper Fisheries from Nova Scotia, Canada. I had a customer a couple of years ago, who brought these hatches to me that he got on his Canadian boat and they are nice, they don’t leak. We were always trying to have our welders make up lobster tank hatches, but we could just never get them watertight. They are a little more of a pain in the butt because you have to un-dog each one, but if you don’t mind that they are good. They are reasonably priced so I have been using them.
Steve added, “She is powered with a D-13 700-hp Volvo with a Twin Disc 3126 which is the quick shift transmission that is a 2.5:1 on 2¾-inch shaft with a 36 x 24 wheel. Dual ram steering. The wheel was from Nautilus, the shaft came from Rose’s. Clark Island Boat built the backing plate and then the plates and the motor for the 17-inch hauler came from Marine Hydraulics.
Also underway at Mainely Boat is MOTIVATION, which Tom Clemons of Harpswell sold to Alfred Osgood of Vinalhaven this spring. The engine is in place but needs to be bolted down. They are working with Mid-Coast Diesel, who is doing the engine work. They have also added a transom, a 100-gallons fuel tank, they have moved all the thru hull fittings and recessed them so they are flush with the hull and will be readjusting the lifting rails. They were not sure when they would have everything done and ready to launch.
In the same bay they have a Duffy 42, the old INDEPENDENCE from Vinalhaven, which is being completely refurbished for a fisherman from Matinicus. She is getting a new wheelhouse with new windows, sound insulation, re-wire, install an inverter, shelving down forward with a microwave and refrigerator and a hydraulic room, new radar stand and trap rack and then re-gel the topsides.
In the far bay they have a Duffy 34 for a customer from Connecticut, which is another big project. This included repowering, new deck, hydraulics, rework the deck because it was twisted, and then Awlgripped the hull.
Arriving soon they have a Calvin Beal 34, which they will finish off as a sportfisherman for a customer from Boston, MA. She will be powered with a 500-hp Cummins, small generator, berths, and head below with galley up trimmed in cherry, and an additional steering station back aft. They are hoping to have her done this fall.
Steve met Mike a few years ago, adding, “A few years ago we were going to saw the wheelhouse off one of my old boats, but everything fell through. For years we kind of let everything simmer. I was going to repower my previous boat, the Young Brothers 45, a 30-year old boat and I decided just to build a brand-new boat.”
Steve owned the Young Brothers 45 for four years, and there were things he liked and things he did not like. He explained, “I always had Novis. I went from those big robust keg barrels of boats the 45 Young Brothers. It was a good boat, but it didn’t compare to the bigger Novis. The Young Brothers 45s are nowhere near as wide. That one was an old hull so it was extremely narrow at the waterline and it did not have a lot of flare to pick the boat up. I punched two windows out of it and my wife pretty much told me to get rid of the boat. The Libby 47 was my first choice so I called East Side Boat Shop on a whim and they just happened to have somebody back out. I called Mike and Mike happened to have a spot because somebody backed out. I didn’t even know if I could get financing because I never dreamed, I was going to build a boat. I talked to a friend and they recommended a bank here in Rockland and I literally walked out of Mike’s shop and cold called the bank and said, “Well, I am from Massachusetts and I have never done business with you but what do you think about loaning me the money?” I was driving down the Route One doing my financial report on the phone and everything just fell into place and this was the end result.”
20-odd years of aggravation went into this boat said Steve. “This is my sixth boat, anything that has driven me nuts over the years I tried to remember when we put this together.”
Steve’s first boat was a wooden 25-footer built by Melanson in Essex, MA in 1976. He used her for a few years and then bought a 32-foot Novi Sea Pride. He had that boat for about 12 years, saying, “That was my baby. I loved that boat. I re-built that thing, top to bottom, but I had outgrown it. I was fishing further from home in weather that I should not have been fishing in so I outgrew that and then I bought a 42-foot Atkinson which is actually down here in Cushing now. I had that boat for three or four years, but I realized with that boat that I needed something faster. It was a good, heavy boat it was great in the weather but it was like an 8-knot boat, the speed killed me. Then I bought the 45 Young Brothers out of Portland and I had that one for four years, it was a good boat, but it was the wrong boat for me.”
Steve started messing around traps as a kid, got a student license and then dropped out of school to fish full-time. He explained, “I come from a family of mechanics. Nobody in my family ever fished, but my friend’s fathers were fishermen. I was like this stupid little kid that would beg them to take me out fishing with them and every once in a while, they would say yes. When I was 13, I went with a guy, Donnie Anderson out of Manchester, Mass. a couple of times that summer. It was just an obsession of mine and for no particular reason. I was an angry kid, I was pissed off at the world, and the best thing in the world for me was to go fishing.”
“I worked on a whale watch boat that summer,” continued Steve, “and believe it or not my mother hauled me off the boat and told them I was working too much. I got done with the whale watch company because the season was wrapping up and the next thing, I know I was lobstering full-time with a guy out of Beverly, Jeff Bartlett. I started fishing full-time with that family with Jimmy’s brother Tom and Jeff and the son. I used to take the train to Beverly from Rockport and I would haul all day and get back on the train and take the train back home. I wasn’t old enough to drive.
“I went and saw Bobby Brown to get a job when I was 15,” added, Steve. “Bob Brown told me he would give me free room and board and all the peanut butter and jelly I could eat. That was how he was going to pay me. So here is this stupid, naive little kid and I went home and said yeah, he’d give me a job, this is what he offered me. My mother is shaking her head and going you are not going to do that.”
When Steve started, they were still using wood gear. He learned from Bartletts. “I met Bobby Brown right before his accident,” said Steve. “I knew him, but I never worked with him. I went with the Bartlett’s and they all learned from Bob. I remember Freddy Bartlett telling me that we had it all figured out and then Bobby would come and do something different and it would all change.”
Mainely Boats of Cushing
Mike Hooper started in the boatbuilding industry at Clark Island Boat when he was 16. Mike added, “It was back in the day, but I learned a lot from Dan. It was almost like apprenticing, just doing whatever had to be done.”
Mike graduated from high school in 1992 and continued to work for Clark Island Boat until he was about 21. He knew boatbuilding was what he wanted to do. When he was 23, he built his first boat, which was a South Shore 38 split wheelhouse lobster boat with a 450-hp Scania named HORRIFIER. Mike said, “She was like $150,000 out the door. I wasn’t charging much as it was my chance to get one under my belt and get me started. It worked out pretty good.”
His second boat was an MDI 45, which he did in the Quonset hut down at his house. “It was cold so I rented a bay over at Dan’s (Clark Island Boat) when Harley Oakes owned the first building in there,” explained Mike. “I rented that bay and we did a 45 MDI then we did a 40 RP for another buddy of mine out on Matinicus. The next one after that was Burt Witham’s LOBSTAR.”
“I got my foot in the door pretty good because at the sea trial,” continued Mike, “I never really knew Chris Young, who was Noah’s brother, which I built the 40 RP for. He would never come look at his brother’s boat and never really talked to me. We were out on this boat after we launched it, cruising around with Burt and Chris leans over and goes, “I got a Duffy coming, I want you to build it.”
Mike finished off Chris’ Duffy 42 and this was followed by a Holland 32, which they refurbished, and a Calvin 42 so it turned into a great relationship.
In 2007 when lobster boat building declined with the economy, Mike did not have any new boats to build, so he shut down. At the time he was building the boats on Route 1 next to the Ford dealership in Rockland, but the rent was $3,000 a month. While there he did a Duffy 48, a couple of Wayne Beal 40s, a Wayne Beal 36, and a Lowell 43. With the shop closed he did a little plumbing and then went to work for Knight’s Marine in Rockland. However, all he wanted to do was build more boats so he began looking for a new location for a shop.
For the last five years Mike has been at his present location in Cushing. The boat he finished for Chris Young, AUDREY AILEEN, the Calvin Beal 42, got Stewart Workman’s attention. Mike said Stewart called him up and told him liked the boat. Since then they have built a relationship and this has meant several jobs coming his way, including the Calvin Beal 34 coming in to be finished soon.
Mike rents his current shop, but the owner has told him he was willing to sell it to him. He would like to get this done so he can do some work to the buildings, including adding new doors. Mike added, “I would like to get it a little bit nicer.”
When asked if there was a list of boats Mike said he did not have one but thought that he has built around 30 boats over the years.
When asked if he had a boat, he said he has a BHM 25, which he purchased for his 15-year-old son Colby who is lobstering. Last year he and his son refurbished her. They removed the rails and added new rails and stainless, new windows, re-gelcoated it and put matte down on the deck. Mike added, “He does like doing some of this. This year he has been telling me he wants to come in on his days off when not hauling and do some work. This year I made him do all the work to his boat, He’s been over here painting bottoms, just helping out doing whatever he can to make money. He does like it.
Mike has a full house, with his son and three daughters. The oldest daughter, Emma Hooper is at Maine Maritime Academy studying marine biology. Then one year younger than Colby is Anna, and about four younger than her is Eva.