Last year the Maine Boatbuilder’s Show was canceled a few weeks before it was to take place. I talked with the organizers, got a feeling for the whys, and made an offer to take the show over. Following a couple of meetings just after the Newport International Boat Show in September Joanna Sprague, Jason Curtis and I came to an agreement that I would take the Show over with their assistance.

This is not the smartest thing I have done, but this show is special and to make it a success I must get the boatbuilders to come and exhibit. We all know that most boatbuilders would love to stay in their shop doing what they like to do, not taking the time to head all the way to Portland just to talk to people about their boats. I have already talked to a number of boatbuilders and not one said ‘no’ and most said that they would signup.

I also wanted to make a change and that was to make it a two-day show. Portland is one of the most expensive places on the East Coast to spend the night, especially during the summer. By running two days that limits the nights needed to stay and limits the amount of time away from the shop. It also helps those attendees coming from a great distance.

With a good core group of boatbuilders I am sure the other exhibitors will come. It all comes down to numbers and over the next month I need to see how many boatbuilders will sign on the dotted line. At that point I will be able to determine if this is a worthwhile endeavor or not. Let us hope so.

* * * * *

        Here we are the first weekend of November, and the temperatures are still in the high sixties. Thankfully too, as I am trying to get another boat ready for the water. In mid-October I found out there was a John’s Bay Boat being offered for sale by a bank. With a little inside information I was intrigued, but not as much as Ann. After the Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony for the lobster boat racers in Boothbay Ann and I stopped in Rockland to look at the boat, which was sitting on the hard at Journey’s End Marina. With permission we got on board and looked around. It was quickly evident that she needed a lot of cosmetic work, but otherwise she looked like she was in good shape. This is the first SARI ANN, which Vance Bunker had built by the John’s Bay Boat Company of South Bristol in 1998. She is a 40-foot split wheelhouse lobster boat, port haul, powered with a 375-hp Caterpillar. Down below she has four berths, a small settee and countertop with sink. I knew who to contact at the bank and after a brief discussion with them I made an offer. For two days Ann would come home from work at the hospital and ask if she was ours yet. The bank came back a couple of days later with a slightly higher counteroffer and I agreed.

What was must interesting was the discussion I had with my financial advisor the following week. I believe his first words were “You never do what I tell you to do.” Since I never plan to retire, what did I need a retirement fund for? I explained what the new boat was and that the purchase gave me a very happy wife. He went on that a boat was just a hole in the water for the rest of my retirement fund, but I still have a happy wife. Where is the downside?

Now I own two wooden boats and when asked what I was doing with CINDY JEN the response is I am keeping her. She is in good shape and is simple to take care of. Being 34 feet long with only an 8-foot beam there is not a lot of surface area to sand and paint. After a couple of trying seasons with engine issues, we finally got them ironed out and for the last three seasons she has run without issue. The only thing I really need to do this coming spring is to redo the canvas decks.

While at the recent launch of a new 47-foot lobster boat at John’s Bay Boat Company I asked Vance if there would be a problem if I used her original name. I was told all I needed to do was pronounce it correctly. So, she will be named SARI ANN I hailing from Winterport.

The new boat is not simple, first of all she is about three-times the size in surface area and she as numerous systems. First, Ann and I cleaned everything off, including the cushions. Right now, I am getting the bottom ready so she can go over and come up closer to me for the winter. Fortunately, the bottom is in pretty good shape. I only need to put in a few bungs, fix a few seams and paint. Should only take a couple of days. I would love to get the topsides redone, but that would mean a lot of hours of sanding, priming and then sanding again before I could apply a final coat so that will hopefully be done by the spring.

I really needed to know what should tackled first. In talking with Allan Dugas of Royal River Boat Yard, who owns two of these boats, impeccably maintained, he said he first steamed cleaned the entire bilge and then re-red leaded it. Fortunately, this boat is not as bad and I may only have to steam clean the engine area and then red lead it. I can see that this is going to be a couple of year project, but she should still look good when she goes over next April.

* * * * *

        Even though it was summer I was able to computerize the Custom House Records for Castine and Penobscot so those vessels listed can be pasted in the master file of that vessel. I also discovered I had already done the Newburyport Custom House Records. This should help fill in the blanks of a number of vessels in my vessel files online. Unfortunately, there are a number of Custom House Records that still need to be computerized and there are still others that need to be located and digitized.

Another huge project is computerizing William Fairburn’s “Merchant Sail.” This is a very impressive piece of work, six volumes totally 4,179 pages and one I am learning a lot from. There is a much quicker way of inputting, but I decided to read it in so I learned more about merchant sail and what was and what was not included in the book. There is no question that this work should have a lot of additional information added. I am sure time was an enemy as William Fairburn along with a number of assistants compiled this after his retirement. Right now, I am focused on shipbuilding and there are a number of towns not covered and those towns covered, not all vessels are included. One can bet that this was related to time and the size of the work when completed. Today, if this was redone, I would publish on the internet so it can be made any size with no concern for cost and constantly updated.

* * * * *

        As you know I have been working for a number of years at the Sawyer Public Library in Gloucester copying out marine related articles from the Gloucester Telegraph, which started in 1827. They closed the library the end of summer so they could transfer to a temporary site while modifications are being made to their building. This is going to be an 18-month project. Fortunately, they made room for the microfilm machine at their temporary site, and I am back working. I like the new location, it is easy to get to, but small. It has all sorts of benefits too. Just below the library is a real record store and they play music that I can just barely hear while I am working; and when the wind is blowing a certain way, I can smell Chinese food and when the wind blows from another direction it is Italian. The last time I was there (early November) I began working my way through 1859 and in one of the first issues there was a list of all the new boats hailing from Gloucester noting the builder. There were also articles on vessels lost; fishing bounties, launches and a giant article on shipwrecks around Cape Ann dating back to the early 1800s. These finds make my day!