This year’s boating season is in full swing. All indications seem to point toward another good summer, hopefully without last year’s rain and debris to cause problems. Area boatshops remain busy with recommissioning and completion of winter projects.
The first to report in this month is Jon Clarke from Higgins Yacht Yard in St Michaels, MD.
“It’s launch time! Boatyards everywhere are busy launching boats for anxious customers, and Higgins is no different. Although, with the St. Michaels Wine Fest being the last weekend of April each year, we not only have to get them launched, but we also need to get them outta here. Our marina docks are now open for transient business! Call Marianne at (410) 745-9303 and come see us in St. Michaels. Here are some more of the projects that we’ve completed over the winter and recently launched: the 1986 Maynard Lowry 18-foot Wooden Launch was completely restored at Higgins Yacht Yard along with our friends at Deadrise Marine. She’s a classic beauty that’s been brought back from the dead. It’s hard to believe it’s the same boat that we saw last fall. Another project was a 34-foot Sabre that came to us for some updating, including a totally new state-of-the-art electronic system, custom color bottom paint, new gold-leaf lettering, bright work and detailing. The video of her launch and sea trial can be found on our Facebook page. We continue to work on Magic, our 1894 Chesapeake Log Canoe, and look forward to launching her soon. Racing season for these magnificent boats is right around the corner.”
On the subject of completion of big projects, John Patnovic of Worton Creek Marina in Chestertown, MD, brings us up to date on the rebuilding of the salvaged Spencer 74 in his shop.
“The Spencer Project is in the home stretch. We sea trialed the boat in March. There are three short videos of the boat during the initial trial on our Facebook page. There is also an article on the entire project in Professional Boat Builder magazine; to view it go to proboat.com. Other activity in the yard includes a SeaKeeper stabilizer installation in a 71-foot Dettling motor yacht, numerous paint projects, the normal spring commissioning and repair rush, and getting the marina ready for the season. We are also gearing up for our next project boat: a 72-foot Princess motor yacht with fire damage.”
David Low of Herrington Harbour North in Tracys Landing, MD, reports in on a major winter project in the marina: “Herrington Harbour North has just completed the construction of our new F dock which is our first floating dock. The yard crews and our four TravelLifts are busy launching our customers’ boats to begin another great season. Herrington Harbour North is working with the Marine Trades Association of Maryland and Chesapeake Material to ensure that the large volume of shrink wrap that our contractors and customers want to dispose of gets properly removed and recycled.”
Speaking of big projects, the shop at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) always seems to have something big going on. Joe Connor, CBMM’s lead shipwright for the new Maryland Dove, reports that construction has officially begun on the new representation of a 1634 trading ship that accompanied the first European settlers to what is now Maryland. CBMM will construct the newest iteration of the ship over the next several years, with a targeted launch of 2021. Connor visited Hama Hama, WA, in March to oversee the felling of Douglas fir for use in the construction. This wood will be used for spars, decking, deck beams, and her main mast. At the end of May, the designs for the new ship, created by Iver C. Franzen Maritime, LLC, received approval from the U.S. Coast Guard, allowing shipwrights to begin the lofting process.
On June 1, at CBMM’s Maritime Day celebration, shipwrights laid the keel and began assembly of her backbone which will include nearly 18,000 pounds of external lead ballast bolted to the bottom. Later this summer, shipwrights will begin work on the stem, sternpost, and deadwood sections of the backbone before moving on to assembling frames for the new ship. Maryland Dove is Historic St. Mary’s City’s floating ambassador and one of its most popular exhibits. The goal of the new ship design is to be as close to the 1634 original as possible, including features that were not known when the existing Maryland Dove was built in 1978. HSMC historians and CBMM staff have been working with archeologists at the Vasa Museum in Sweden, using information they’ve recovered from shipwrecks raised over the past 40 years to help inform the design of the new ship. The new Maryland Dove will be a Coast Guard certified passenger carrying vessel, owned by the state of Maryland and operated and maintained by the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission. To follow along with this project, visit marylanddove.org.
Some important players in this early season rush to get boats back in the water are the companies that offer mobile marine services. Since boats out of the water are expensive to move around, it makes sense to bring the service to the boat. Not all marine service companies work out of large shops, and many use a combination of shops and trucks to deliver their services.
Prestige Yacht Management, for example, is based at Bert Jabin’s Marina in Annapolis. Their offices and a large detailing shop are at the marina, and they have a fleet of 10 trucks which expand their service area to 12 counties surrounding the Bay. Prestige estimates that, depending on the time of year, as much as 80 percent of their work is done by their mobile trucks. Smaller companies such as Old Line Marine Services, based in Shady Oaks Marina, often have an office and sometimes a storage yard and do all of their volume from their well-equipped trucks. A peek inside these traveling workshops is enough to make a home hobbyist drool with envy!
Hank Reiser of Marine Service LLC, at Pocahontas Marina in Edgewater, MD, reports good progress in the restoration of two boats he showed at the Antique and Classic Boat Festival in June. Hull planking is complete on the 1951 Chris-Craft Commander, and the engine is in Stand Fast, a 1957 Lyman 23.
Rob Hardy of Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD, reports that the pace of business has not slowed at all. In addition to what Rob calls “The usual spring rush of repairs and paint jobs and trying to get the new building built,” Composite has a lot in the works. The new CY46, the first of the series completely designed by Composite, is progressing nicely. Final paint and systems installation are underway on what Rob calls a new and bigger 46 with offshore capability.
Another major project is the newly designed CY32CB. She’ll be powered with a 370 Cummins diesel and is a traditional Chesapeake design suitable for charter boat or work boat service. Rob also reports the work on “The big girl,” the CY55, is cruising along, as he puts it. The shaft tunnels have been milled, and the deck mold should be arriving shortly. Since the layup of the hull involves some new technology, Rob decided to lay up a CY26 to test not only the new resin planned for the 55, but also to test the “oven,” a temporary heating bay designed to cure the resin at the required temperature. A CY26 was laid up using the same materials planned for the 55 and cured in the oven. The test was a success. The new CY26 is out of the mold and being completed. With the success of the test Rob plans to begin layup of the 55’s hull in a month or so.
With all the good things going on in our shops, I would be remiss if I did not mention the one problem that everyone mentions: the lack of manpower. The labor shortage in the marine industry continues to be a problem for us all. Keep your eyes on PropTalk as we report on initiatives addressing this challenge.
By Captain Rick Franke