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Maine Coastal News Volume 30 Issue 4 April 2017 FREE The Good Health of Maine's Boatbuilding Industry

A student at The Landing School in Kennebunk fi tting a plank on a peapod. The last several years have been a busy

time for boatbuilders and repairers along the coast of Maine. The reason for the upswing has been due to the overall healthy economy and how well the lobster fi shermen have been doing. Many new boat builders have a good backlog, which has not been seen for a number of years. However, many of the builders who have been in this business for several decades know all this can disappear in an instant when the economy takes a turn for the worse or lobster catches drop. The present demand for new boats or

refurbishing old ones, is so great that sev- eral small fi nishing shops have popped up. Finishing shops are sometimes operated by commercial fi shermen and thus when orders dry up, they are not severely aff ected as this is mostly something to do in the winter to stay busy. When their orders dry up, they use the shop to work on their gear until the next order is placed. Finishers almost always fi nish off hulls built by another builder and they mostly fi nish off commercial hulls. This can be problematic if you do not have your own moulds, you are at a disadvantage over those that do. When the economy declines, those that do have moulds, do all they can to keep every order in-house and thus these shops disappear. With this great economy, builders are

developing new models. East Side Boat Shop in East Machias purchased the Libby 34 and 38 moulds from SW Boatworks

and then turned around and built a 47 foot hull and top mould based on the Libby 41. Morgan Bay is no longer operating out of Penobscot. During the middle of winter, they moved their operation to an 8,000 square foot building in Frankfort. They are developing a new 43 footer. The plug is done and now they are making a mould for the four boats they already have on order. Morgan Bay had been producing the North- ern Bay 38, but no longer. The Northern Bay moulds can be confusing. The fi rst was the Northern Bay 36 designed by Spencer Lincoln and off ered by Downeast Boats & Composites in Penobscot. This mould then went to Massachusetts, and are now off ered by General Marine in Biddeford. Downeast Boats & Composites then created a Northern Bay 38 designed by Chuck Paine’s offi ce in Camden. This is the model that Morgan Bay leased till this Fall. Now there is the West Bay 37, which was modifi ed from the Northern Bay 38 by West Bay Boats of Steu- ben. Another model that might grow, is the Calvin Beal 44 off ered by SW Boatworks. They are contemplating doing a 50-footer by modifying the Calvin 44. Like the Calvin 38, which they used to create the Calvin 42 by adding a four foot section in her eyes, they plan to do the same to create the 50 from the 44.

Maine boat builders have long been known for making changes to hulls, mostly lengthening them, but at times making them

wider. After Steve Carver of West Jonesport lost his Holland 32 BIGGER DIRLS to a fi re last Fall, it was learned that he would be get- ting a Holland 35. At the Maine Fisherman’s Forum we learned that there may be two of these built. What Glenn Holland has said is he will be taking three feet off of the 38. Don Crowley off ers the Crowley 36

through Allan Leighton’s shop in Milbridge, a Calvin Beal Jr. design from the mid-1980s, and now this model is being off ered in a wider or the original version. There is no question that most lobster

fi shermen are looking for a bigger-wider boat. What used to be the norm in the 1980s a 36 footer powered with a 300-hp diesel is now a 42-footer powered with a 1,000-hp diesel. The biggest model, due to regula- tions, they stay just under 50 feet and power them with 1600-hp diesel with a cost just shy of a million dollars. Many, especially the old timers, ask why and wonder what happens when mother nature causes the lobster catch to drop. Want to through a monkey wrench into the middle of all this? With the engine regulations coming, Tier 4, there is going to be a decrease in the number of engines available over 800-hp. Does this mean the fi shermen are going to be forced to use smaller models? John's Bay Boat Company in South

Bristol has been the dominate wooden lob- ster boat builder for several decades here in Maine. Today his backlog is several years

C o n t e n t s

Publisher's Note Calendar of Events


MMM and Maine Boatbuilders 5 70s Memories - Richard Avery Kittery Point Yacht Yard U. S. Navy News

7 8

Waterfront News

4 Wood's Hole News 6

PMM's History Conference Stabil Rust Stopper

Commercial Fishing News DELA Director's Report 11

10 10 10

News from ME DMR

Misc. Commercial Fishing News Boat Yard News

Maritime History

History from the Past Classifi ed Ads

22 28

13 13 14

out. It is great to see two other boatbuilders, Richard Stanley of Bass Harbor and Peter Buxton of Sunset, also building a wooden boat. This is the fi rst time in probably twenty years that there has been three wooden boats under construction on the Maine coast. An aspect to consider when searching

for a builder is quality. Over the years I have seen quality from one end of the spectrum to the other, but for the most part the bar seems to be rising as everyone wants a good looking, structurally sound boat. Usually the line is drawn in the details, like how smooth do you want the fi nish. Even some fi shermen want it absolutely smooth as it looks good and is much easier to clean. However, others do not want to pay the extra money and settle for a matte fi nish. It can be an interesting argument as to where the line should be drawn, but it all comes down to the customer. There are some builders who are so fussy they would prefer not to have their name associated with a lower-end fi nish and may draw the line as to how rough it will be. Another discussion has been the diff er-

ences in price on the same project from one shop to another. A lower end price can be related to overhead costs. A small shop may not have the overhead of a larger one and thus that can save a customer a lot of money. The real issue is when the price is related to quality. Always look at other boats fi nished

Continued on Page 14.

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