GOULDSBORO – If you have been a racer or a visitor at the Winter Harbor Lobster Boat Races over the last four decades you know Keith Young. Like many people, there is another side that few people do not know about. Keith just did not run the lobster boat races at Winter Harbor for many years; he took care of a fleet of boats for the Dixon family of Grindstone Neck, went to the University of Maine and studied engineering, and was on the race committee for the day sailors out of the Winter Harbor Yacht Club.
Most will think that Keith has always lived at Winter Harbor, but he is quick to say, “I was raised in Gouldsboro and now I have moved back to Gouldsboro. I am not really from Winter Harbor, I am a come from away in Winter Harbor. I grew up on the Guzzle and then went down to Winter Harbor to mow Sid and Sandy’s lawn, they were the artists there on Main Street. Then I started mowing lawns on Grindstone for Bob and John Snyder so that is what put me on Grindstone. Ever since then I have been on the payroll in Winter Harbor one way or the other.”
Keith said that the Young side of his family comes from the Gouldsboro/Milbridge area. His mother’s side, the Hamiltons, are from South Gouldsboro and before that down around Milbridge. He thought if you go back further they have ties to Nova Scotia. Both his grandparents had ties to the water. On his mother’s side he shipped out from South Gouldsboro for a while and the one on his father’s side worked on the water out on Gouldsboro Bay. Keith explained, “Grampy Young he fished out of a peapod and I don’t remember if either one of them had a power boat. Gramp Hamilton did lobster buying in South Gouldsboro with Eddie Colwell and Lyle Ford, same spot as the lobster buying dock is now in South Gouldsboro. Their house was right there on 186.”
During World War II Keith’s father, Charles, built planes at Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut. Keith continued saying, “In ’46 he came back and built the garage on Route 1, which I just rebuilt a couple years ago. Most people know it as Bud Holland’s Garage. Bud started with Daddy in ’54 and then when Daddy went to build the can plant with the Stinson’s, Stinson’s Canning, he had one little spell when he wasn’t there. The garage was only closed for just a short while and then Bud went back and reopened it. Bud was there from ’54 basically all but one or two years in the ’60s.”
Charles continued working for Stinsons, working on their vehicles, and really did not do much fishing. Keith said, “He loved the water and he did work on the guy’s boats. Back in those days it was all gasoline boats and wooden. He spent a lot of time down Corea, and Bud was down Corea a lot. Both enjoyed that, got them out of the garage.”
Keith was born in 1950 and his first year in this world was spent at the garage. In 1951 the family moved to the Guzzle. As a child he remembers lugging ice water to the blueberry rakers and mowing lawns. He spent time at the garage, but said that he was probably more of a nuisance than any help. He added, “I was pretty young and I can understand now why I had to wipe the oil cans down, stack them on the shelf and there would be some dirty tools that I had to be wiped down. I look back on it and that is what they did to get me out of the way. But I loved it.”
Later on Keith was mowing lawns on the estates on Grindstone Neck. He said, “Then they asked me to come to the yacht club to row people out to their boats. I was the last dock boy not to have an outboard boat. I had to row everybody.”
When Keith graduated from high school he wanted to be a mechanic, but it was his mother that pushed him to go on to college at the University of Maine at Orono. Keith said, “I went up there and took Mechanical Engineering and enjoyed it. It was the social part that was the good part. I am glad I went, it was a lot of fun.”
Just after graduating he spent a little time building the Winter Harbor Marina. The following year he was asked by the Dixons to work on their 58-foot Trumpy sportfish boat TARGET. Keith’s brother, Richard, is five years older and Keith added, “My brother was working down Grindstone too. I was at the Yacht Club rowing people out, he was up to the pool as lifeguard. The Dixonsy had to have a first mate and my brother went on their first big boat (86-foot Feadship INTENT) and is still with Mrs. Dixon.”
Over the years Mr. Dixon had a number of big boats. The first three, 86-footer, 111-footer and a 121-footer, were purchased from their original owner. He then built a new 122-foot Feadship in Holland. He also built a new 123-foot Delta, which Richard brought from the West Coast to the East Coast. Over the years there has been three INTENTS and a couple of GRINDSTONES.
Keith did not enjoy being south for long periods. He said, “I enjoyed going south, I loved the sportfishing out to the islands. We’d fish during the day and run back to the big boat wherever they went to. So, I was going to get done and just come home, but Mr. Dixon asked me to stay on so I came home and ended up running their boat house.”
The Dixons owned a Winter Harbor knockabout, 31-feet overall and 21 feet on the waterline, which they raced at the Winter Harbor Yacht Club during the summer months. Keith added, “They are the oldest continued racing sailboat in the country. When I was dock boy we were down to three knockabouts and then two, the two that Mr. Dixon had. Then we had the smallest fleet of two knockabouts and six bullseyes. We would race them together, just a fun thing. It got to be real racing later in the 1990s. All nine knockabout were found and all nine were back for the 100th anniversary of the Yacht Club. Since then some have changed hands. The two that Mr. Dixon have stayed in the family.”
In the 1970s Mr. Dixon built a 48-foot Tripp designed Hinckley named RASCAL. This, a Bertram, which came up from Florida, and all the smaller boats were housed in the boat house. Some boats have come and gone and some have never left. Keith added, “My brother continued to go north and south with the big boat. I was able to stay in Maine from then on because everything I had to do stayed here. I’d get things buttoned up in the early winter and I could still go south, but I’d only go down for a while.”
Keith did a little racing in the knockabouts, but most of his time was on the committee boat and making sure the fleet taken care of.
A couple of years ago, Keith retired from working with the Dixons. “I can’t say anything but good about them,” continued Keith. “They have been exceptionally nice to everybody. They have been an asset to this area and any area they go to.”
The Winter Harbor Lobster Boat Races have been running for 57 years. When asked how he got involved in lobster boat racing, he quickly replied, “I guess just foolishness. I was over at the yacht club rowing boats around watching them race out on the other shore. and I am saying, ‘Gee, I would like to be a part of that.’ Ralph Byers, Sr. had been running them and Albert Hallowell took them over. I don’t remember who talked me into it. I was back here all the time and the Chamber of Commerce asked what can we do to make things happen? I said, ‘We have got to do things a little different.’ I just wanted to rock and roll a little bit more. It was fun for me because I love racing.”
Keith was not sure what year, but it was in the mid-70s when Albert got done and he took over. He added that Dana Rice, Sr. and Alan Johnson also ran the races for a time. In 1985 he decided to take a step back, but came back two years later. Chris ‘Buddha’ Beyers joined shortly after and Keith assisted until a couple of years ago. Over the years he said he has had exceptional help in running the event and that is what made it so successful.
“I really liked it,” said Keith. “I could not go stock car racing or drag racing or any kind of racing because I was at the Yacht Club seven days a week. I figured it was just a hobby for me to make trips to the Miami Boat Show and the Fish Expo in Boston talking about lobster boat racing and getting them involved. I have really enjoyed it. People thought it was just fishermen spending money. Boy, you think of what was learned. Slippery boats are more efficient, the engines, people learned a lot. A lot of it was for other people, a lot of it was for the friendships.”
Looking back Keith added, “Bobby Potter is the one that got me all fired up. I fished with Bobby some and he loved racing. When we fished and somebody was anywhere near us, we dropped any gear we had on the wash board and tried to get them to race. If those Bar Harbor boats were anywhere around and we got a chance to race we did. That probably got me hooked. The Young Brothers got their shop going and they really got into racing and the Hollands. They made it a lot of fun.”
There is no question that the Winter Harbor Lobster Boat Races have had exceptional turn outs. They stop working on their event the night before the race and the day of that race they begin promoting next year’s race. Over the years they have given some impressive prizes and that has been a major factor in attendance.
Keith has always loved dabbling in real estate and a couple of years ago he bought back his father’s and Bud’s garage and had it totally redone to what it looked like back in the ‘50s. He added, “I went a little bit overboard putting the garage back to what it was. She is ready to be a garage or a boat shop if need be. Right now, I rented it to a couple guys that have got some really nice antiques for sale there. One of my buddies said, ‘God, Keith you will never make any money on this building.’ I said, ‘No intentions to.’
So, you might see Keith wondering around looking for another piece of property to buy, or maybe when you pass his home in Gouldsboro on Route 1 he is out with an excavator beautifying his grounds. He may think he is retired, but he just changed his focus.