This boat was designed and built by Ned McIntosh, Bud’s Brother and is over 80 years old.
YORK – When you talk with certain people you realize that they have accumulated a wealth of information on a specific subject, or numerous ones. The last time I stopped and talked to Paul Rollins, a boatbuilder in York, I realized he was probably one of the best sources of information on boatbuilder and designer Bud McIntosh of Dover, New Hampshire. What he was able to recall I found totally interesting, giving me a glimpse into Bud, the veteran wooden boatbuilder and Paul, a new wooden boatbuilder just starting out.
When asked when he first meet Bud, he said, “Early 70s. I grew up on the river, on the same estuary as him, and always heard about him. When I went to high school it was up on the hill and in study hall you could look down the hill and in the spring when the tide was coming in the boats on his moorings would swing into view. I had no idea what a cruising sailboat was in 1968, but I was fascinated by it. When people figured out I wasn’t going to make much of an academic impact they said, you should go down and visit that guy. I heard about him all my life, he was famous in the neighborhood. The first time I visited, he was building a varnish mahogany ketch, ADALINA, “Oh, is this a lobster boat?” But he was very patient and he explained what was going on. I worked doing construction for a couple years; reinforced concrete and building houses. I liked building stuff and I visited him again and then I went to the Apprenticeshop in Bath.”
I asked if Arno Day was there at the time and Paul said, “No, but Arno Day had a big impact on Bud. They were pals because Bud used to cruise, go up there every summer and he knew Joel [White] and Arno and when Bud started designing power boats and lobster boats, Arno helped him out a lot.”
While attending the Apprenticeshop, Paul went and visited Bud and told him, “Oh, I am going to learn to be a boatbuilder,” and he said, “You are going to school to build a dory?” What kind of a lame brain needs to go to school to build a dory, because of course he had been building dories since he was 6 years old. So, I set up in my parent’s back yard. I built a plastic shed and I built some wherries and a couple of peapods. I sold them right away, it was shocking, I was making pretty good money building these little lapstrake boats and Bud started shifting work my way. I started with a flag pole, then a set of oars to be repaired and then a glued mast. He said, “Well, I have got a guy that needs a 36-foot lobster boat. He wants a Bruno & Stillman, but he can’t afford it.” He said, “You do it,” and it was wonderful. He drew it and it was a lot like a Bruno 36. He said, “I will help you, don’t worry.” I didn’t know anything about it. The owners were very patient and generous, the Anderson’s. They are still fishing out of Rye Harbor. I built the hull and it came out good, copper riveted cedar and then they finished it off. I started getting more work from that. Then Ned, Bud’s brother, called me up one time and said there are some people in American Samoa with a sailboat that needs to be rebuilt.”
Paul headed for American Samoa and spent a year rebuilding the old Alden schooner SVAAP made famous by William Albert Robinson’s voyage around the world. “I did that job,” said Paul, “and as soon as I got home there was a guy that wanted a lobster boat built, a bigger one, like a mini-dragger. Then I started on cruising sailboats. But getting back to Bud, he was building real simple, not highly finished boats. He was doing it on a fixed price and trying to compete. I think he was the budget guy for guys like Waldo Howland and Sam Crocker. He built a lot of sailboats for them. Somewhere in the 50s, he decided he wasn’t going to build anybody else’s design, he wanted his own. Gordon Swift built a lot of boats and ran Great Bay Marina for years. He was working with Bud at the time and this guy came in with a roll of plans for this gold-plated Rhodes centerboard yawl. It would have been big money back then and Bud said, “No, not interested, I don’t want to do that.” That boat I just rebuilt, he would say, “Oh, those Concordia Yawls, they are pretty but I got a much better boat, so he built a couple like, MERRYWING that was a nice hull, it was really a successful hull.”
Bud’s father ran McIntosh College in Dover, New Hampshire, but Bud went to Dartmouth and maybe a year at Harvard. Paul thought he studied literature adding, “He was very well-read. There wasn’t a book that you could mention that he didn’t know about.
“Bud built a string of sloops,” continued Paul, “very simple, competitively priced sloops. They had a little gingerbread on them, just to show some varnish. He had steady work, but he wasn’t making much money at it. Swift left to go to Great Bay Marina, where he could get a more steady check. After that Bud worked kind of by himself. He built AUDACITY, which is sitting at Belmont Boat Works, a 50-foot schooner pretty much by himself. He had methods that worked and he could do it without thinking and really poured out the work. Bill Shuman worked with him and Jeff Foggman and Ellis Rowe. I house sat his home one summer, while he was off cruising and there was some hurricane damage to one of his boats and I got a great job out of that. That was fun. Elmer Dion, who ran the yard at Kittery Point, when he was in a pickle he would go up to Bud’s with a fifth of bourbon. But I remember him saying, “Oh, McIntosh he is rough because he’d push it through the planer and on the boat it would go. These days people just can’t imagine, but that is why wooden boats cost hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of tens of thousands.”
Paul said that Bud would drop in periodically and ask what he was doing. He added, “He was so generous with his time. A lot of things I am doing now, that at the time when he would say them, “You know do it this way.” This old guy doesn’t know what he is doing, he must be getting old. Now, look how that lasted and see how durable his ideas were. BUFFLEHEAD out of Rockland is pine planked, plywood decks with no fiberglass on them, really as basic as you can get. She is 55 years old now and they are still making money with it taking out charters every day.”
Bud spent hours designing boats. Paul added, “He had this drafting table down in the basement and some friends and I would go down there and he would teach us how to manipulate lines and what a hull should look like. His name was David Chalmers McIntosh, D. C. McIntosh but Michael Robertson said it doesn’t stand for D. C. it stands for down cellar. There would be rolls of drawings of the boats he’d be designing for people. Little variations on a 32-foot cutter, a 34-foot cutter, a little lighter, a little heavier. Daysailers just a slew of them. I thought APPLEDORE I was an awfully pretty boat and you know they sailed that without an engine for years down to the Caribbean and back, they did chartering out of Boothbay with no engine, so it is a handy sailer.”
When asked about lobster boat designs, Paul said he did not do a lot after the one he designed for the Andersons. He added, “He did one just for the heck of it, 27-footer on spec and sold that right away, that was a good boat. Then he did a little bigger one, a 32-footer. The little dragger that we did, that 38-footer, I think that was the biggest power boat that he designed. They weren’t that fast, but like the Anderson’s would tell you, that boat would come home in any weather. She had a little tummy in her and she would lift to the waves. She was a good sea boat.
One of the best things Bud did was compile a book on wooden boatbuilding. Paul said that this was his reference. He explained, “He might have written it in the 70s but then when WoodenBoat magazine got wind that he had done some writing they encouraged him to pull it together and finish the chapters that he had outlined. I remember him bringing over chapters and saying here, try this out and if I would be repairing something there was all those Sam Manning sketches and Bud’s good description of how to do it. Yeah, it was priceless. There were a couple of things that I think the editor’s refined. A lot of people still spile planks the way it is describe in the book, but it wasn’t the way Bud did it and it wasn’t the way I was taught to do it. They use a pair of pencil dividers. I use a stick rule and that is the way Bud did it.”
Ned McIntosh was Bud’s younger brother. Paul said, “He just died last year at 104, I think. Yeah, he didn’t smoke. They grew up on the Bellamy River and they built themselves dories when they were little kids and they would go down to Great Bay duck hunting. Then they would build something with a sail rig. They taught themselves how to build boats. I don’t know, there might have been some old timers that guided them. Pretty soon they tried to build boats commercially and they got into yachts. Ned worked at the shipyard in Kittery on Seavey’s Island before the war. During the war they were looking for people to work in the boat shops in Panama so he shipped out and went down there. There was a whole group of really talented boatbuilders that were working together at that boat shop from all over the country. Ned had some great ideas about how to build a boat simply and quickly. He came back here and built spars. He’d put a 50-foot spar on the top of his Chevy, no problem and deliver it. He built like 200 Merrimacs, which was a plywood hard chined V-bottom daysailer, which was a very successful boat around here, a lot of the clubs owned them. His brother was getting into the larger cruising boats, but Ned stayed with smaller boats. He had an Atkins cutter [STAR CREST] that he and his wife, Alice, would sail to the Bahamas in the wintertime, down and back. It went to Nova Scotia to be rebuilt, but I don’t think it is getting rebuilt, it was pretty far gone. She was iron fastened. Ned also ran the Shoals Marine Lab research boat for years. He took the kids out and showed them oceanography.”
Paul has two boats that Ned designed and built. One is an ultralight yacht tender, which he built a lot of. The other is a lapstrake daysailer, which is in amazing shape for an 80-year old boat.
Both Bud and Ned did what they loved, designed and built boats. How good they were at is proved by how revered the designs and the boats are still perceived today.