A 63-inch model of a wooden lobsterboat, built just like a real one, under construction by Willis Beal of Beals Island.
A Whitehall and a Monhegan flat-bottomed skiff awaiting repairs at Chris Stickney’s shop in St. George, Maine. The Whitehall was built by his father in Boothbay Harbor.
This is one of the launches nearing completion at Atlantic Boat in Brooklin. She will be heading to Florida.
3 Blondes Boatworks, Harpswell, ME
I was visiting Hodgdon Yacht Services on Southport Island in November and saw this Mussel Ridge 46 lobster boat VESTA RENEE of Friendship hauled up looking well-used. She had keel damage and a hole at the top of the hauling side. I posted a photograph on Facebook and Joey Pinkham, owner of 3 Blondes Boatworks, wrote that he was going to repair her and that she was now sitting in a rented shop in Harpswell. When I visited, the crew was working on grinding the damaged fiberglass on the keel, which consisted of a small area on the bow and about 25 feet at the end of the keel. Joey added, “We have taken the engine out, as well as transmission, shaft, shaft log and the entire cap for the keel. All the layers that were peeled apart inside, we have ground that all out now. They had the lobster tank on top of that. Most of the cutting was in there. It took a while to get to it.” The engine, a 750-hp John Deere, has gone to Art Stanley in Owl’s Head and they will go through it before it goes back in. They still want to go through and make sure everything is good and then do some cosmetic work. They are hoping to have this project done the end of February so they can get the owner back out fishing.
Next, they have a 25 Terry Jason that will be coming in for a new top, trunk cabin and rails. The current top was stick built and Willie Pinkham in Steuben is building them the new top and trunk cabin.
This project will be followed by a Five Islands 37. This hull did not come from the Bruno mould and then extended two feet. This boat was built using an old cement mould and is like the Repco 37. The problem was that this is a male mould so there is a lot of sanding to make the exterior smooth. This boat they are repowering, but they will also cut the deck back and remove all the old steel dragging gear as well as removing the bricks in the bilge.
This project will be followed by an MDI 45 out of Phippsburg. They were not sure how much work was to be done, but they thought the deck, fuel tanks, change the inside of the wheelhouse and add a day bunk.
The shop they are presently operating out of is called Heritage Marine, which they lease from the owner. Last year they worked on a boat here, where they added a tuna steering station in the cockpit. Joey is hoping to purchase some land on Route 1 in Waldoboro and build a new shop, but the deal has been held up. Joey loves fishing, but there is a lot of uncertainty with everything that has been going on in that industry. He pointed to the costs, the uncertainty and said that boatbuilding might offer him a good opportunity and he loves doing it.
Atlantic Boat, Brooklin, ME
In the main shop they have a 20-year-old Duffy 26 Titan from Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard in for some drive train work. They have removed the old stuffing box system and are putting in a new shaft tube from Nautilus Marine and realigning everything. They will also re-bedding all the spray rails and some other minor maintenance items. Alex Loer said, “It is 20 years old and 80,000 miles under the keel. They couldn’t be happier to have brought it back here.” She will be finished and out the door the end of January or the first week of February.
Another launch is on the floor of the main shop and ready to go. She is the third installment for the Boca Raton water taxis. They had just finished sea trials with Mack Boring and the Coast Guard, who both gave their stamp of approval. The only thing different on this one is that the railing system was changed. Alex said, “It was integrated into the canopy before and now we have gone with our standard boarding rail with the canopy. It is a lot better in terms of ease of getting on and off and flexibility. We are happy with that.”
They have four launches in the works. One was going to go to Fort Myers, their second, but the owner asked to cancel because of the damage he sustained in Hurricane Ian. His first launch was found 200 feet up in the parking lot. She was put back in the water and the engine started right up. The canvas canopy was still on, but it was all ripped, the spray rails were gone and the hull suffered some cosmetic damage. All in all, she survived, Downeast Strong.
In the side shop they were back working on the Duffy 26 powered with an outboard. Alex explained, “It was on hold for a little bit, purely because we knew it wasn’t going to be delivered until spring. We have the engines, twin Suzuki 150s, which is half the battle. Right now, she is getting ready for paint. We call her 29 due to the extension. Down below she has a V-berth, head, and a little bit of shelf area to the side, not too much different than the regular 26 layout. What is nice about this boat is the open floor plan. There is no engine box because obviously the engines are on back so you have full access from the bulkhead back to the transom. I like this boat. This is a day boat and opened up, she does 30 knots. When it gets a little snotty you are enclosed. This one when it is done is going to South Portland, I think once we get it done, we will have a lot more interest in it.”
Outside they were getting a new Duffy 35 ready to be powered with a 580-hp Yanmar. She will then go to South Bristol, where she will be finished out as a lobster boat. “We are pretty excited to see how this engine install goes,” said Alex. “This is the first one we have put in a 35. We have two other 35s that we are going to repower so if it is successful, we are going to repower with that engine.”
In another separate shop they were working on another Duffy 35, which is being finished off as a research vessel going to Massachusetts. They ordered the engine and gear last January, and the engine arrived a while ago, but the gear did not show up until December. To keep the project moving they used an old gear on the engine, so everything could be installed. She has a spartan interior down below, but there is some joiner work to do in the shelter and put down the rubber deck. The wiring and hydraulics are going in and they were getting ready to fair the inside. They have a spring delivery date and will soon add more people to the crew to make sure she goes out on schedule.
All the boats are hauled up and put away for the winter. Some are getting work done and when done will be moved out and another project will take its place. This past season they built a 200 x 200-foot outdoor pad and placed a number of boats on it for the winter. At some point they will build a heated indoor storage building on the site. With the new boat construction and all the storage and repair work they are now booked out into the middle of 2024.
Chris Stickney, St. George, ME
Chris has two small boats in the front of his shop that need repairs. The Whitehall was built by his father in the mid-1970s and needs to have her garboard plank seams splined. Chris added he thought he was using seasoned cedar for the planking, but after two or three seasons it had dried up and would not swell enough when put in the water to stop leaking. When he passed away Chris got the boat to fix, which will be completed this winter.
The other boat is a Monhegan skiff built of plywood. A customer dragged her home with the hope of fixing her up, but she ended up at Chris’ shop. When asked if he would fix it up, he said, “Maybe, but what is the point. I don’t know anything about it. It has a planked bottom and the transom is starting to rot away in the corners. The cost of the job is going to be as much as a new skiff. The owner found one last year which was an interesting one. It was single-side wood plank, it must have been 16 inches wide to get a 10-foot skiff side out of. This one he said, “Can you fix this up?” Maybe, but the side was checked and galvanized fastened. By the time you get the nails out and the holes filled, it is nothing but an old skiff fixed up.”
Then there is KATIE JANE and she was the old workhorse for a fisherman that has been replaced by fiberglass model. It might be a J. E. Jones boat, but Chris was not sure. Chris added, “You can see the hull inside is bad. They put a new bulkhead in it and it doesn’t look too bad. The only problem, I can see that she has keel bolt issues and that is going to be a challenge. They’ve glassed over the work deck and they glassed over the house top and all that is gone. The owned aid when they redid it, he red-leaded everything inside and put some new sister frames in.
Another old wooden lobster boat needs some work. Chris explained, “I have worked on that a few years and that is an old one as well. Doug Boynton was an owner and there’s been three owners since. She is getting tired; the mahogany planks are starting to bulge out where the fibers are letting go and the weight of the boat is starting to squeeze her. I don’t know if he is going to want to put a lot of money into it. He came up with a severe leak this fall right at the beginning of hauling season and that sort of worried him. I went down and looked at it and at first, I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. He hauled it out and I caulked some of the butts and stuff and we put it overboard and I have still got leaks. The pump barely kept up with it so we hauled it out again. We squirted water up inside the hull and then you can see right underneath the sheathing it was squirting out of a seam. You could try and fix it on the railway, but you are going to be 3 or 4 days on the railway. He said at that point, he was going to buy another one in a couple weeks. He picked up the other one, another wooden one, in much better condition.”
Unfortunately, someone just starting out would not put the money into her to make her right. The owner thought of giving her to the Museum on Matinicus, but one wonders if they want an old lobster boat.
There are another two or three boats up in the loft that Chris started a while ago that need to be finished. He added, “I am 65 so it is almost time to stop and forget the professional end of it and continue with the hobby end of it. I wanted to put a shed down on my other property 20 years ago and now I am just getting around to doing that. I have a couple boats down there: an outboard and a couple of skiffs that I need to fix up.”
Do not worry, I am betting Chris keeps going, maybe on a smaller scale, fixing wooden boats, small and large. He has a true love for them and that has not faded.
General Marine, Biddeford, ME
In the outside shed they have a Wesmac 42, which is being finished off as a charter boat for a customer from Nantucket. The hull arrived partially finished from Wesmac. They had installed the engine (1,200-hp MAN), drive train, generator, tankage, and platform. What they also did was scan the entire interior so they can make parts and pieces with a CNC machine. Stacy Raymond, owner of General Marine, added, “Right now we are doing the bait well and transom assembly. We had the boat scanned by Cameron Chislett of Chislett’s Boat Works in Dover. Cameron made a female one-off mold for me that we just screwed together. It took me a week to prep this. If I went to do this, without using CAD…Cameron has a three axis CNC router and he can cut all this stuff out. Every single piece will fit like a glove when you go to put them in. So, Cameron is going to take all the foam sheets, cut them out and I will lay them up on my glass table. I spray the gel down, push the sheet down into it, and when that kicks, I will pick it up and we will do it again on the other side. I just need to trim and those panels will fit perfectly. It will go together like a tinker toy and it clips an enormous amount of time out of building the boat.” This boat will not be finished until next year.
In the main shop he has a JC 31 hull that he is finishing off for a customer. Years ago, they were going to finish off this hull, but a partner in the project passed away and the other partner lost interest. Then at the Maine Boatbuilder’s Show two years ago Stacy was approached by someone looking for the 31-footer and he purchased this hull from Stacy. Presently they are working on the fore deck and forward section so when done they can put the cuddy cabin on. This should be done the middle of January and then they can move onto the structure under the platform.
Next to the JC 31 is their newest model, a 26-foot outboard boat. Stacy and Cameron played with the design in a computer and settled on 23 degrees amidships and 12 on the transom. Stacy was using his 20 as a test for his ideas for the design and was hoping that he did not of over the edge and create a boat with horrible characteristics. The 20 went well, but he wondered if he was on the edge. Cameron and Stacy did that boat and at the time Cameron was going to The Landing School for design. The teachers were worried about how much they warped the plane. They warped the plane 15 degrees and the teachers were afraid it would not sail well. Cameron drew it up using CAD. Stacy said go back and ask the teachers what is going to be detrimental and then maybe I will change my mind. The teachers didn’t know exactly. Stacy said if you don’t have the vee amidships you are not going to get a good ride. It is a basic concept and warp the plane go you get a good lateral stability like our 26. We put that boat in the water and it’s the best 20-footer I have ever been on. It rides well and it is dry. The one thing with the 20, it was a little bit of a pig on fuel. In January they started this project and in March they had it in the water running. We went back and did a few more changes to it and it ran even better. This is a great going boat. Everybody that I have taken out wants to write a check for it. Stacy added, “I made the mold, it is all done, but I can’t build it. I have people coming down, two guys were in yesterday that wanted one. I can’t do it. I have a two-year backlog and I am not going to sign contracts that get me out three years.”
Hutchinson Composites, Cushing, ME
On the floor in the layup shop they had a Mussel Ridge 54 that they were finishing for a customer from Maryland. She was going to be a conch boat.
This one will be followed by another 54. She is being laid up for the fisherman out of Corea. This hull Albert thought was going to Clark Island Boat Works in St. George to be finished.
Matt Sledge of Samoset Boat Works in Boothbay is finishing a Mussel Ridge 42 and Albert said that he was getting another one to finish off later this winter.
They are booked for two years, mostly with sportfish and yachts. The commercial boats have slowed, but there has been a reprieve for six years and some feel comfortable enough to order a new boat.
Kittery Point Yacht Yard, Eliot, ME
Late this fall a Cuttyhunk 28 (thought to be a Sisu hull) came into the shop for a major upgrade. This boat has spent part of her life in the mid-west in freshwater. Marshall Farnham, the project manager, said, “She is getting a whole new refit, re-core the trunk side, re-core the deck, new windows, getting rid of a lot of extra hardware for a cleaner look, adding some teak trim, eyebrows and side trim and new hardware, new electronics before she heads to Kittery to be Awlgripped.” The cabin sides were rotten so they remade them with Cusa board so the house has a cleaner look. She presently has a gas motor, an old 350 and she will likely be repowered with a diesel at some point. The owner is thinking of a four-cylinder Yanmar.
Next to her is Holland 32 sportisherman SWEET POLLY, which underwent a major upgrade last year. The engine is coming out and they will replace the mounts, paint the motor, and check everything in the bilge. There was also talk about doing some work on the interior, maybe some cabinet doors, teak trim, and some gelcoat. Most of this is preventive maintenance since this boat is in constant use by her owner.
The paint bay at Kittery is in constant use. Presently in the bay is a Dyer 29 getting her topsides faired and painted. She will be followed by the Cuttyhunk and then a Calvin 38, which needs her pilothouse painted and maybe the non-skid updated. Following this, two sailboats, one small and another large, will be in for Awlgrip. Marshall said that they are book solid in the paint bay and people are already booking into next fall and winter.
The engine department is also busy. They have a couple of outboard repowers; one is a Landing School Flyfish 22. She has an E-Tech and that will be removed and replaced with a Yanmar. There are also several smaller repowers keeping the outboard mechanics busy.
If that is not enough, they have a more and bigger storage customers this year. Marshall saw more 40-foot outboard powered boats coming in this year and not so many smaller ones. Also, more diesel-powered boats have joined the storage fleet. He said, “Heated storage is growing and it is going to keep growing. We are going to add buildings probably add to heated storage. We are reconfiguring things. It is in its drawing process so we will see how it goes. We want to grow the service/refit side and have plenty of room to do these projects, but you need the indoor heated space to really accomplish a lot.
Nautilus Marine, Trenton, ME
It is traumatic when you get a text from your propeller shop saying, “your prop is junk!”
Since I was heading to Mount Desert the next day I stopped in for an explanation. Mark Dickinson said, “We cleaned the discoloration and marine growth off some of the areas on the prop in particular where it was really eroded from cavitation and/or electrolysis or galvanic corrosion to see if it looked like if it was weldable and it is not. This looked like galvanic corrosion which means basically not having a sacrificial anode connected to it in the right place. If there is electrolysis, which is the electricity trying to seek ground out through the shaft at the propeller as opposed to where it is supposed to if a ground wire is connected properly. If all the grounding is connected properly then the electricity doesn’t go out through the shaft and the prop. That will destroy a propeller but that propeller has been run a long time. It has had some impact damage and it has had either electrolysis or galvanic corrosion so it deteriorated the metal to the point where it is just kind of flakey copper left and you can’t weld it. So, it’s all over. It is junk.”
The options were a recondition propeller that needed three inches of pitch added. To add the pitch takes a lot of work and that adds to the price. The other option was a new propeller. Mark explained that these are manufactured in the Philippines or Vietnam and the quality is incredible. I asked about buying one here in the States, but he said they still use the old method, but the old timers who were good at this are gone. I should also add that the price was lower than the reconditioned propeller, but it was going to take four months to get here. Since I can wait that is the way I went.
Oceanville Boatworks, Sunrise, ME
One of the better hull finishers on the coast has to be this yard. In the shop they had an Osmond 47 that had been stretched to 49 feet 11 inches and was being finished out as a lobster boat. She is powered with a 1,400-hp MAN and that was in along with all the other running gear. They had made some modifications, which included a bow thruster, clean out well, custom top, a cutout of the washboard at the hauling station, rope tank that is heated and custom lifting rails. They had finished under the platform, which included a little over 900-gallons of fuel, four lobster tanks (two flooded and two self-bailing) and lots of Soundown in the engine room. The platform was down and they were working on the interior: a V-berth, hydraulic room, and a place for a toolbox. This boat arrived the end of August and will be done mid-spring.
Presently, they have no order after this, but they were sure something would be signed soon.
Dale Haley and Tim Staples started this company back in 2014 and to date they have finished out nine or ten boats. They have also done numerous repairs, some small, some not. Dale worked for Billings Diesel & Marine starting back in 1987. When there he got into painting and varnishing. He said that he had known Tim since he was 16 who has been in the business 47 years. Tim worked for Duffy then Atlantic Boat and the Hinckley Company. He also went out on his own for a time. They decided to team up and built their present shop and over the years they have put out some very nice-looking boats. Dale added, “We care for the person we are building it for. We try to do what they want. We ask them how they want it and if they want something we do it. Every one of them has been just a little bit different, somewhat the same but a little bit difference. They pick their hull if they want the top, but we can custom build tops too.”
So, if you are looking for a finisher, do not overlook these guys!