MAINE BOATBUILDERS SHOW Page 15. Artisan Boatworks - Looking for a Classic or... By Maine Coastal News

ROCKPORT – Anyone who traverses the coast of Maine, especially on the water, will quickly realize that this is a haven for classic woodenboats. There are numerous wooden lobsterboats moored in almost every harbor and usually in the same harbor they are sur- rounded by some of the fi nest wooden yachts in the world. We must acknowledge the own- ers who are caretakers of these classics, but more importantly we must acknowledge the yards that painstakingly repairs and details them every year, like Artisan Boatworks of Rockport.

Recently Alec Brainerd, owner of Arti-

san Boatworks, sent out an e-mail off ering the Bar Harbor 31 JOKER as a total resto- ration project. The Bar Harbor 31 was de- signed by Nathanael G. Herreshoff and built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, RI in 1903. They were built for the summer resident racing at Bar Harbor. Alec added, “The only one that is still sailing belongs to Bob Vaughan up in Seal Cove and she is rigged as a ketch. There are none left with the original Marconi rig. There is one called INDIAN at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol which is really nicely preserved, but will never sail again. In the early 1990s there was a Bar

Harbor 31 sitting in a yard needing a total rebuild. There is also one down in Alabama, ZARA, which was being restored, but the status of the rebuild at this time is unknown. Another one went to Europe and was sup- posedly rebuilt there. “Bob Vaughan at Seal Cove Boat Yard

has had JOKER for a long long time,” said Alec. “She has been through a couple of owners since it’s been out of the water. I work for Bob back in the early 90s and it was sort of the derelict then. I have always thought that it would be a great project for us to do. The guy that owned JOKER had bought it as a project boat and the fi nances didn’t materialize. I was talking to him about another project and it came up that he owned JOKER. For the last three or four years we have been talking that if we ever found a

client that would underwrite the restoration that he would be happy to give JOKER up. Finally the owner just said look why don’t I just sell you the boat for a dollar and then negotiate with Bob to get it out of hock. So that is what happened in the fall, he sold me the boat for a dollar and Bob and I talked about a price that would be fair for him to get it out of there. So as soon as a couple of the boats that are in front of her get moved out of the way in the spring it is coming over here. We are going to build a nice steel cradle for her on some 40 foot I-beams to support the shape. The fi rst goal is to stabilize it, get it well covered and support the shape.” There has already been a little interest

in doing the project, but Alec does not think someone from this side of the Atlantic will be the one to step to the plate, he feels it is more likely to be a European. A number of Herreshoff boats have been sold to European owners and they are extremely popular rac- ing on the Mediterranean. Alec said they are working to build relationships with captains and project managers on that side of the Atlantic, but nothing real promising yet. Recently they just completed two resto-

ration projects. One was on a Dark Harbor 20 and the other was on a Haj class racing sailboat. Alec added, “It is cool because they are both 30 feet, they are both built in the early 30s and for yacht clubs within sight of each other here on Penobscot Bay. Those two boats were in the shop from September through last week. I wouldn’t say total res- toration, but lots of frames and fl oor timbers and a lot of hull fairing. The Dark Harbor 20 got a new keel. They didn’t have much shape to begin with and with the Haj we actually splined her hull. We routered out the seams and were able to jack the ends up a few inches before we glued the splines in. I think we got a lot of that shape back.” The Dark Harbor 20s raced at Islesboro

and the Haj class raced at Camden. There are a number of Dark Harbor 20s left around, but just fi ve or six Hajs. Alec thought it would be great to have a reunion for the Haj class at the Camden Yacht Club some year.

Andros Kypragoras Builds... Continued from Previous Page.

was being built, the DENNIS SULLIVAN,” said Andros. They were taken apprentices and I went out for a three month appren- ticeship and I ended up staying for almost 3 years. When I got there they were almost done with framing up the boat so I got to see the whole process from lofting to cutting the frames, putting on planking, putting in the ceiling, the whole nine yards.” After that I did like this journeyman

thing,” continued Andros, “I went and worked with a bunch of other people that were doing big boats. I worked with Dave Short down in Boothbay. They had just fi nished up with the tugboat LUNA and we did the BOUNTY’s fi rst big rebuild. Right after that we did the schooner ROSEWAY. Then I went off with Dave and we worked on a railroad barge out in Albany, New York. We did a bunch of other little jobs here and there, but eventually I just started taking jobs on my own on.” The fi rst major job Andros got involved

with on his own was HIGHLANDER SEA out in Port Huron, Michigan. He said, “She is a 1924 I think Starling Burgess design, meant to look like a Gloucester fi shing schooner, but never actually fi shed. She was built as a pilot boat for the Boston pilots. This outfi t out in Port Huron had their hands on it and I had gone out there to make them a topmast and then they asked me to oversee a yard period with them. When we started

MURMUR, a full keel Herreshoff Buzzards Bay 15, built by Artisan Boatworks in 2009. Photo: Alison Langley

Presently they have just brought in a

1950s Chris Craft runabout. “We are poking and prodding,” said Alec, “trying to estab- lish the extent of what that project is going to be. It could turn into a big one. Then we have got a 12½ coming up from Florida that is going to get a full restoration. A major project that is starting also in a couple of weeks we are going to build a 24 foot yacht tender, similar to one of those 1920s Herres- hoff launches with twin cockpits. She will have all of the fanciness but widened out to have a hard chine and a modern diesel so she will go 25 or 26 knots. Artisan Boatworks is busy and they, like many of the yards on the coast, are looking for carpenters. Alec grew up in Brooksville and raced

daysailors at Buck’s Harbor. He added, “We raced B. B. Crowninshield Dark Harbor 12½s. They used to be the Islesboro fl eet and then they were sold to Buck’s in the early 30s about the time the Dark Harbor 20s came along. I went to boatbuilding school right out of high school, the Artisan college in Rockport. Then I went to work on private yachts for two or three years and sailed all over the Mediterranean.” He worked on the 94-foot Fife-designed

to take the boat apart we learned it was a disaster in there. The more you took apart the more the Coast Guard wanted you to do. We put almost an entirely new bottom on her. Almost all new frames below the waterline, a bunch of deadwood, new engine logs, new part of the keelson, new gripe, new rudder trunk, we replaced the horn timber I mean it was huge. I was 26 and the youngest guy on the job.” When Andros returned to Maine he

came back and worked on BOUNTY. This time they replaced her topsides. Last year Andros headed the first phase of the project to rebuild the schooner BOWDOIN. He said, “The BOWDOIN has always been one of my favorite boats in the fl eet. The deck was leaking pretty bad so the idea was let’s fi rst put a deck on the boat and stop the freshwater from getting in; put a good cover back on and that should buy however much time they need to fund raise to get ready for the second part as the bottom still needs to be done. “It is fun to do the big jobs like BOW-

DOIN,” said Andros. “I really like the guys that I work with and we really have a fun time doing it. Everybody is just super-talented and does an awesome job.” What is next, Andros added, “I’m not

really sure. I am bidding on some work for the winter and spring. I am putting in an estimate right now for a topmast for the AMISTAD and may be that will happen.”

SUMURUN; then he cruised the South Pa- cifi c on an 83 foot ketch; and then did a lot of deliveries on some of the bigger schoo- ners. Somewhere in that whole time period I made the mistake of buying a little 31 foot Hinckley Islander. I took it apart completely and started to put it back together but I really didn’t know enough to do it well. Then I built a little shop to put her in. I needed some money so I went to work on yachts. Basically every life decision I made for about 10 years was all focused solely on putting that boat back together, which inevitably turned into a boat yard.” Alec never fi nished this project. “At

one point we built an addition off the side of the shed and she was in the way and we just bulldozed it. It was sort of freeing in a sense. At that point it wasn’t really the boat for me. Actually what is exciting I got a 40 foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl a couple of years ago that really has fulfi lled that dream and it is big enough that the whole family can sail together.” While he grew up in Brooksville, Alec

worked summers at the Seal Cove Boat Yard. He said, “I was 16 years old and they taught me how to paint bottoms. I would say the majority of what I learned about boatbuilding should be attributed to Taylor Allen and John England down at Rockport Marine where I was for fi ve years. I was there for the W76 and big schooner LYNX and a bunch of smaller projects. That is really where I learned to build boats.” Fifteen years ago he started his own business and over those years he and his

crew have done some very impressive proj- ects. “It has evolved,” said Alec. “We started out solely focused on building and restoring these classic day sailors, just me and another guy. As the yard has grown we have become a lot more service oriented. We have built that new construction and restoration pro- gram up to a level where it is steady and consistent work and we will keep doing it because it is fun. We are also at a point where we are supporting a lot of young families, my own included, and realize that security is more important at this point. We have got about 60 boats we take care of now and we are going to put up another storage building in the spring. We’ve got glass boats, we’ve got motorboats, it is really a full service yard. We are happy to do whatever it takes.” Now a major topic among people in the

marine industry is its future. Alec said, “That is a good question. We defi nitely see a shift away from sailing. There are 20 Concordias for sale right now. Defi nitely more than there has ever been for sale before. But then there was a record turnout at the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta this year. It will be interesting as the current generation of owners start to age out and I don’t see many younger folks as interested in sailing classic boats as there used to be. Jon Wilson and WoodenBoat started this whole revolution of wooden boats. Concurrent to that there were also a lot of wooden boats that were just worn out and had no business being sailed anymore. These wooden boats were a nightmare to maintain; they were beautiful but I would never want to own one because they are a pain in the ass. A lot of those boats are gone now. There are fewer basket cases and I think that the majority of wooden boats in service today are in really good shape. I hope that that concept that they are a nightmare to maintain is hopefully going to fade away. They do require maintenance, but they are not any more expensive to maintain than a glass boat if you keep the glass boat to a high standard. There is a real revival of craftsmanship going on right now. People in the higher end of the game are starting to realize that for what it cost to buy a 40 foot Hinckley or Sabre you can actually have a custom-designed and custom-built wooden boat. We need to market ourselves better. People these days just want to Google ‘best boat’ and hit the PayPal button. I think it is hard to fi nd the people who are willing to invest the time and commit to the process of designing a boat and having it built. I think we can fi x that by marketing better. We have been singing to the choir for a lot of years.” If you have a love for a wooden boat and

really want to restore a classic such as a Bar Harbor 31 or you already have a boat which needs repairs or a place to stay the winter contact Alec at the Artisan Boatworks.

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