At Eaton’s Boat Shop on Deer Isle, owner Jeff Eaton has his boat LA BELLA VITA [Northern Bay 38] in the shop to be repowered with an 815-hp FPT and some other minor upgrades.
This is the wooden boat BENJO, the last boat Will Frost built when he was in South Portland, sitting in the back lot of Knight Marine in Rockland. Hopefully someone rebuilds her.
Atlantic Boat, Brooklin, ME
Like all yards on the coast of Maine they are already working on the commissioning season. They store close to 100 boats and unlike last year when a number did not go over, this year most will be hitting the water. They said that most of their customers are excited about the upcoming season to the point that some want to go in early.
Winter work is still on-going. They just pulled a Duffy 35 hull and top out of their respective moulds. The owner is looking at who he wants to finish the boat, and since this is a repeat customer, they are likely high on the list to do it.
An interesting project is modifying a Duffy 26 for an outboard. The skeg has been removed and a bracket will be added to the transom for the outboard. It was said that they have been getting a lot of inquiries on an outboard powered boat and think this might be a very successful option for them.
In one bay they have a wooden Grand Banks 32, which has had her bottom stripped and repainted. They have also worked on the flybridge and her interior.
In the next bay is a 29-foot power boat, with twin engines, that was repowered last year. She returned this winter and had a bow and stern thruster and new electronics added.
In another bay they have the Shaw Institute boat, a Novi, in for her annual maintenance.
In the process of being built are two Coast Guard approved launches heading to a resort in Boca Raton, Florida. After these are shipped, they have two others possibly sold. One to a yacht club in Maine and another going to Florida. The one heading to Florida will also have a canopy top, but this one will need to go through certification by the Coast Guard.
Derecktor Robinhood Marine, Robinhood, ME
This yard has been very busy all winter getting their storage customers ready for the upcoming season. They have 130 boats and almost all of them need some degree of work done before summer arrives. Only a few will not go over this season, two of them because the owners have passed away.
Like several the yards on the coast they opt for a lot of small projects instead of a huge one. Many times, those big projects turn into a nightmare as it goes way beyond what was thought might need to be done. That could derail other projects and that does not please customers, plus it can be a financial disaster.
In bay 1 they have a Hinckley Pilot in having her exterior woodwork refinished. Next to her is a Cape Dory 28 also getting some fresh varnish. In Bay 3 there is an Able Whistler 48, which has a vast amount of varnished wood and this is getting redone. She also had some other smaller repair work done.
A Sea Sprite 28 has had her bottom stripped and a barrier coat applied and then bottom paint. She is also have her varnish redone.
A Cape Dory 28 Open Fisherman is having her brightwork redone.
A Halberg Rassey 46 came in for some bottom repairs following a minor grounding. The keel was re-sealed and then she received her annual maintenance.
A Sabre 34 came in and her Westerbeke replaced with a Beta. The swap was not bad as there was only a little repair work needed on the engine beds.
An older S2 came in for electrical system upgrade, which included new batteries and solar panels. They also added a windlass and davits.
Last year they did a lot of work on a Robinhood 36 before she headed south. She returned for more upgrades this winter in her multi-year refit program.
Like most brokerages theirs has done very well, but like most they are looking for inventory. The demand is there, but not high-quality boats.
East Side Boat Shop, East Machias
In the left bay they have a Libby 41, which they are finishing out as an all-composite lobster boat for a mid-coast fisherman. She is getting powered with a 1,000-hp FPT. They are working on getting everything under the platform complete so they can put the platform down. Down below she will only have a V-berth. They will not be doing the wiring, for that she will be trucked to Journey’s End Marine in Rockland. They expect her to be gone by mid-May.
In the right bay they have another Libby 41, also being finished out as an all-composite lobster boat for a mid-coast fisherman. This one is powered with a 700-hp Volvo.
Both boats are basic lobster boats. Frank Coffin, owner of East Side Boat Shop, said that a basic boat fishes just as well as a million dollar one. One of these boats was going to have a split-wheelhouse, but the bank dragged its feet for two months and when approved there was only time enough to do a basic boat.
Last month they had a 41 in for repairs and at the same time the fisherman was rebuilding an 18-wheeler. Well, the 18-wheeler ran way over budget and he could only make some of the repairs. He is hoping this gets him by for a couple of years and then he will be back to do a total rehab.
Another 41, SIZE MATTERS, was in and was lengthened almost 5-feet. They also added gelcoat to the platform.
They have a 34-kit boat to try and get out and they already had several calls for a 47 next year. The new 41 is under a tarp and Frank is hoping to get that finished up so they can take a mould off it. The new 41 has a deeper keel, her sides have been raised up 5-inches all around and a little bit more sheer added. Fishermen are also already to put down a deposit for repair work. The main hold up is getting materials and Frank debates whether to battle the supply companies or just close until the products are available.
Frank’s bigger problem is getting material such as resin and fiberglass mat. His supplier told him he was getting his supply based on what he ordered last year. One of the boats now under construction needed three rolls of 50-inch mat. They offered two, but he would only settle for the three he desperately needed or he was not going to build the boat.
Everyone was told that fiberglass would be going up 25 percent next year and Franks has already learned that there will be a shortage on coosa board and there could be a problem with rails. He submitted a 5-page order and then the backorder notices came in. He tried to find a bitt for each of the 41s now under construction and they are not available. He said he was probably going to have to have them made, but that could be a problem as all the fabricators are swamped with work.
Due to the demand one can bet that the prices will also go up on almost every product. Frank said the price on a 41 hull is $55,000 but thought it would be $65,000 next season and that all depends on the price of materials.
Eaton’s Boat Shop, Deer Isle, ME
Owner Jeff Eaton has his own boat, LA BELLA VITA [2012 Northern Bay 38, 750-hp FTP], in the shop for an engine change and some minor upgrades. The old engine had 11,000 hours on it and it was time to either rebuild it or slide a new one in and Jeff opted for a new one, a 16 liter 815-hp FTP with a 1.5:1 gear with a trolling valve. Jeff removed his steel engine beds and replaced them with fiberglass ones, which would house the rubber mounts. He also replaced some of the exhaust system. It was all one piece, but he had to modify into three pieces so he could get it in without cutting the platform. The old engine he sold to Eric Smith at Long Cove Marine, who rebuilt it and put it in an Osmond 40.
Jeff also added electronic shift controls after being told that he would like them. He then had a little play in the steering gear so he took that a part, shimmed it, put it back to together, reinstalled and the ram started to leak. He hauled it back out and Eric is now resealing.
Jeff said she was going outside soon and they would probably repair the hauling side and then have Glendon Stanley over to spray it.
Outside there is the third 25 hull they built this winter and she is coming in to be finished before fishing season starts. The first two were shipped out as kit boats, one to a customer from New York and the other to John Farrell of Gloucester, the former manager of the Boston Red Sox. These two customers want another if they could get one.
Jeff, like other builders, is hoping he can get the materials needed to complete this one. She is going to be finished out as a simple day boat, full cabin sides, with a head and a bunk below and half a winterback with a little counter to port.
Jeff said that there has been a lot of interest in the 25s and he likes doing kit and getting them out the door. He added you know what you have in a hull and top, but when you are finishing it off it can a little trickier with what the price could be.
Riverside Boat, Newcastle, ME
There have been several projects in this winter for various work.
A Cadet sailing dinghy was in with a leaky centerboard trunk. That was rebedded and then given her annual maintenance for the upcoming season.
A Rhodes 36 sloop, which is an ongoing work in progress, came in to have the rest of her deck replaced. They ripped off the old section, replaced some of the deck beams, put down the plywood and covered it with Dynel. They also replaced the coamings and trim. Presently she is getting painted.
A 24-foot daysailer, which was owned by the Forbes family, has been in for various repairs over the years. She has had her stem and keel repaired, three quarters of her floors and frames replaced. Next winter they will be replacing every other plank on the bottom.
CLAIRE. A 34-foot sloop homeported at Christmas Cove, and her owners discovered that she had a pretty bad leak. So, they removed some of the ceiling and discovered that the frames were split and buckling, some with a ½-inch gap between them and the planks. Obviously, she was given new frames and planks on the port side.
An Old Town canoe came in for a lot of cosmetic work.
The owner of a lobster boat outside wanted one of their Yankee tenders, which is now under construction. The moulds are set up and the stem, bottom and some planks are on. She will be done sometime this summer.
Seal Cove Boat Yard, Brooksville, ME
I first learned the hazards of doing big projects a long time back at Seal Cove Boat Yard when a project went way over the expect time allotted for it. Bob Vaughn, owner of the yard added, “We do projects over a good number of boats, which adds up to being quite a lot of work. The typical rhythm of a “nice big project” is the first 25 percent is interesting, exciting and the second half it is going along and into the third quarter it’s just beginning to get long, the excitement is beginning to go out of it and then the last quarter you are looking at the book and realizing that they always run long and some of it you justify to the owner but frequently it winds up with you swallowing a little bit of it. If you take all that work and spread it out over five boats, it’s more interesting, you get to look at something different several times during a winter and you do better at it. Our business is as maintenance and repair and we have boats that come as far away as Long Island Sound because we do what they want.”
One of the projects this past winter was on a Phil Rhodes designed Abeking built 50-foot yawl. She was given several new frames and 8 or 9 planks on each side. To do this the engine was removed and that was gone over before going back in.
A Tartan 37 is in the paint bay getting completely Awlgripped. This is similar to the Hinckley 38 they did last year, which had all her brightwork removed and either refurbished or replaced and repowered.
A custom Concordia is in for Awlgrip and because she draws 9½ feet and high-sided there is just 2-inches from cabin top to top of work bay. The hull was built using Kevlar and epoxy and the Kevlar was showing print through. This was re-saturated and was then ready for Awlgrip. Once out of the building they will be able to put her stanchions and lifelines back on.
One customer has a 30-foot S&S designed sailboat, which was built in Denmark, and she would come up from Newport every year to be stored and readied for the next year. This owner then bought a Hinckley 51 and he began storing the S&S closer to home and the Hinckley 51 at Seal Cove. After a couple of years of poor care, the S&S came back to Seal Cove to be put back into proper condition.
They store about 225 boats, with about 30 percent being wooden boats, which constitutes about 60 percent of the winter work. The oldest boat in the yard is owned by Bob and she was built in 1896. They have boats that have had three to four generations of owners from the same family. A Dark Harbor 12 has been owned by three generations of the same family and has been stored at the yard for 70 years. Unfortunately, the person who owned the boats recently passed away and the family is trying to figure out if they want to keep her or put her up for sale.
With commissionings underway they will be launching and hauling well into the fall.