JONESPORT – One of the most noted race boats 20 to 25 years ago was the 28-footer CHRISTOPHER, raced by Isaac Beal of Beals Island. She was built by Mariner (Lovey) Beal, who was Isaac’s father, and Isaac and was launched in 1976. She made her first appearance on a race course in the 1990s, but in 1998 Isaac got serious and raced her for seven years dominating Gasoline Class C and the Wooden Boat Race. She was retired in 2005 and after a few years lobstering she was placed out back with the hope of having some much-needed repairs done. Unfortunately, life got in the way and she sat there under a tarp waiting. This April, Alonzo Alley, yard manager at Jonesport Shipyard, was helping Isaac’s son Christopher move some moorings around his yard with a telehandler. He knew that Isaac would love to see his boat racing again. With the telehandler he hooked on to her trailer and dragged her out. She was then taken over to Jonesport Shipyard and placed in Bert Frost’s old shop and the repairs have begun.

        Isaac added, “Well, dad wanted a new boat and he was in his late 60s. We had two smaller boats to build for the winter so we got done early in the spring and so we started. I told him that I would help him because I had my other stuff to do, herring and seining. He would have a plank for each side ready and I would go in and help him get them put on. He had emphysema and heart trouble so he had a pace that he could work without having too much of a problem. We got the deck laid and I made the houses all up on sawhorses and ready to put on. I always did the windshields and I did that for him. Finally, we got her ready. I had stuff from an old boat that I had bought, which I didn’t realize that the clinched nails had rusted off on the inside of the hull. I took all of the material off of that and put it in her. She had a used shaft and a used propeller. When she went in the water, I think she had a 130 hp Chevy. He was happy because she was a nice-looking boat and everybody wanted to buy it off of him. He used her four years and then he passed away.”

        Mariner had planned that when he passed away the boat would be sold to pay all his expenses. Well, Mariner’s wife wanted Isaac to have the boat. He explained, “I had a Gower boat that was 20 years old. She was a nice boat, I used that for 10 years. Mother said, ‘No, I want you to have the boat.’ I said, ‘Well, I will sell mine and I will pay all of the bills.’ So, I got the boat. I fished her from ’80 up until about ’85 then I started mussel dragging with the herring boat I had. I had a Novi herring boat and I made her over into a dragger. I was doing alright mussel dragging but I would lose a month’s work in between getting ready to go musseling and then another month getting the other boat ready to go lobster fishing. I was losing two months a year. I talked to my wife about it and I said, ‘I am losing two months a year so I am going to try just mussels straight through.’ Then my son, Tim, used her for about three years, He put a different engine in. He got a small Oldsmobile, I think a 350. I raced that a couple of times and won.”

        CHRISTOPHER is named for Isaac’s son. “He always hung around with dad,” said Isaac. “He was Gramp’s boy. He would go out there and sit with dad, of course dad would sit down a lot because he had emphysema and heart trouble and they would talk. Chris asked him what he was going to name her? Well, you know what happened after that.”

        Isaac raced CHRISTOPHER a couple of times in the 1990s. He added, “I think she was 16 years old the first time I went. The Guptil boys took out an Oldsmobile engine and left it over at Richard Alley’s shop. They had it for sale and wanted $250 for it. I said, ‘Now is my chance to find out what I think and try it. I got the engine on the wharf, but her lifters were stuck. Finally, a couple of boys, sort of mechanics, they tinkered with it and they got her lifters cleared. We got it into the boat and run her, a little, short run, and she run alright. I was right along with the LITTLE GIRL until the engine started tightening up and then it blew up. That was worth the $250 just to know.”

        Racing can be serious business and its money that can dictate success. “I lucked out,” said Isaac. “I was doing the salmon business and I had a big scow with a boom on it. I got a call at 9 o’clock one night. I had a terrible headache so I went to bed early. I got that call and they wanted me to come down, a boat had grounded on a ledge down by Hall’s Island and filled. I tried to work my way out of it because I felt miserable. I said, ‘Well, I have got one light on the boat, the Coast Guard will be down there.’ Well, the Coast Guard said it is alright so they were already there. I went and got one of my workers Oscar Norton and we went down. I got the mast up on the deck and run a line down through it so I could get her upright. The Coast Guard put the pumps in her and the water would just keep slopping over the deck. I said, “Well, she’s got a hole in her somewhere.” I knew the island as I had been herring seining around it. They had some posts and a big, bluff ledge, so, I took her up in there and tied the mast off to the trees. I walked home, got lunch and came back when the tide was down. The bottom of her was sitting right on the beach, no keel on her. I had to come back up town to get some silicon and some plywood. I made a stencil and then I made a plywood plug for her. I bought some bolts and some big heavy washer because I did not know how big the hole there was at the bottom of the boat where the keel was. She wouldn’t sit upright so I had the boom right out and brought her up here to the Shipyard and they hauled her out. Then I had Chris dive down to get the keel. Then I called Sune and said, ‘I have got the keel, it is on the bow of my scow, when I get my check, they get the keel.’ I charged them $5,000 and I said, ‘Now I am going racing.’”

        Isaac made some changes. He took the wooden rudder off and bought a stainless steel one. He then hauled back the engine as far as he could and then bought a light-weight reduction gear. He said, “It made a good balance for her really. She never did dig down in the water anyway, you more just slid over the water when she sailed.”

        He ran the 350 Chevy engine for a couple of races and then switched to a 455 Oldsmobile. “I had another Oldsmobile that I put in there and that did not work,” said Isaac. “Then I had some of my son’s relatives and they took the engine. I went to run that engine, a regular 455 Oldsmobile. I sailed across the Reach, came over here and started up the Reach, tick, tick, tick. I said ‘That is the last Oldsmobile that is going in that boat.’ I bought the 502, at Morrison’s. Nobody even knew I had it in the basement. Pretty shiny thing. I put that in. I did get out there on the 4th of July morning in time to line up for the race. Then I went completely racing after that.”

        Isaac dominated the circuit for seven years and claimed he never had to run her hard. He did add that when he got near the crowd he would open her up as they loved the sound that came from her straight pipes.

        The 502 is still in her, but Isaac says that she is stuck. That is not the biggest problem though. He explained, “I was going to repair her right there by my shop, but I never got to it. My wife got sick and I was tied to Beals Island for about eight years. I took care of her myself and then I got sick.”

        Isaac said there is a lot of work to do on the hauling side. She is going to need new sharprisers, frames and planks. He added, “I need to put ribs down back. The ribs were getting poor on the hauling side because she has a wet floor. I knew that when I put her away from racing.”

        Isaac has her refastened from the stem to the bulkhead. “I have got almost 685 screws in her,” he said. “Sharprisers, everything seemed to pull right in hard. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the ribs up here. I want to do this part. Some of the seams have opened up and I am going to run a little cotton in them and paint her. Heidi (Isaac’s daught) has already been here and took the scribe off the other side, the name is better on the other side. I am not going to tear nothing apart because someone else will end up having to repair it and they won’t know what it looked like.”

        The entire trunk cabin and house will be replaced too.

        Isaac did not start out as a fisherman, he began by working in the boat shop with his father. His father built him a rowboat when he was ten and he did not start fishing for another three years. However, he remembers going in and helping when he was about six years old. He said, “When I started in the boat shop I would crawl up between the ribs, get in there and hold that big ax on that wood just as hard as I could so it would not burr the inside of the ribs. Then I’d have to hold it in along the side of the nail and then hit it two or three times to get it solid against the hull. Then I’d bend it over and I’d get right on top of that nail head with that big ax and hold it right down as hard as I could and he’d hit it two or three more times and that would be right flat with the rib.”

        Isaac graduated from high school in 1960 and went to work with his father, which he did for the next 20 years. CHRISTOPHER was the next to last boat they did together. Isaac went herring seining some summers with his uncles over in Milbridge. Then he went to work at the salmon pens in 1987 and did that for 13 years. He also had two draggers his sons were running and Isaac had the seafood business going. He was also doing mooring work for the area, which is now being done by his son Christopher.

        The hope is to have CHRISTOPHER ready for next year’s racing season, but Isaac added, “I don’t know what to say. I have got so many things wrong with me. I have got a plastic aorta value. I have got a stint. I have got a pacemaker. I have got a metal and plastic leg and a brace on the other leg. And I have diabetes.”

        Isaac goes to the yard whenever he can and works several hours each day. He has help when he needs it from the Shipyard workers, who he is teaching the ins and outs of wooden boat repair. We have just a year to make this happen and that is plenty of time to be in Boothbay for the races in 2025.