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Webhannet River Boat Yard WEBHANNET RIVER BOAT YARD in Wells continued a long-time rebuilding project, which is due to be launched in the spring once repowering is complete. During a lean work year, owner Scott Worthing had the time to return to his roots and passion— wooden boatbuilding—which is often set aside to work in fiberglass. Worthing bought a 20-year-old partial plan for an 18' x 7' wooden skiff from Hadlock Boatworks in Seattle, Washington, completed the design, and then built it for himself. Worthing’s wife commented, “This is my favorite project of the year, because Scott remembered why he got into this business in the first place: because he loves to create wooden boats. Since he wasn’t pressured by anyone to finish it, or change it, or do it for less money, he was able to make it exactly as he imagined… perfect.” Jason Rochello, a 2009 graduate of Kennebunkport’s Landing School, joined the crew. www.webhannetriver.com; 207-646-9649.

Wesmac Custom Boats The big project at WESMAC CUSTOM BOATS was a 42' Wesmac solid fiberglass hull with a 5-window cored/molded top. It was completely custom finished by the Surry crew, which grew by a dozen over the course of the project—including subcontractors from other boatyards and cabinetry companies—from the original six builders. Features include massive amounts of teak, a full galley, an enclosed head with separate enclosed shower, 2 staterooms, custom leather seats, a canvas canopy over the cockpit, a custom transom hydraulic dinghy roller system, a trap hauler, hydraulic bow and stern thrusters, a swim platform, and extensive bronze hardware, some of which was provided by Nautilus Marine. The boat is powered by a Cummins 660-hp QSM-11 and has a 5-blade bronze Nibral prop. Billing’s Diesel and Marine assisted with the delivery to Massachusetts. www.wesmac.com; 207-667-4822.

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courtesy Shaw & Tenney(2)

2009 BOATS OF THE YEAR

WHITEHALL SHAW & TENNEY by Laurie Schreiber

S

HAW & TENNEY, WORLD-CLASS MANUFACTURER of traditionally handcrafted wooden oars and paddles, and the third-oldest manufacturer of marine products in the United States, is once again harking back to a design of distinguished pedigree with the production of a rowboat based on the vintage Whitehall. “People ask me, ‘Why?’” Steve Holt said of his decision to produce a Whitehall-style boat. “The reason we chose to do it is we wanted a classic design embodying the beauty, functionality, and performance that Shaw & Tenney products are known for.” Individuality and invention are hallmarks of a firm that has a worldwide clientele and an outsized reputation but is located in a clapboard shop and storefront on a narrow, winding residential road in Orono. Inside, one of the lathes, originally water powered, dates back to the company’s origin in 1858. There are racks of clamps and heavy machinery of all sorts—slab saw, cornering saw, bandsaw, router, and several giant sanding drums, from coarse grit to fine. In various stages of production are traditional standard oars, sculling and specialty oars, Adirondack guideboat oars, and single- and double-bladed paddles—including the increasingly popular standup surf paddle. During a recent visit, a craftsman was fine-tuning a paddle blade at the drum sanders. He stopped and examined the blade after every two or three passes. “There’s quite a skill to it,” said Holt. “I can tell in about 15 minutes if someone can make an oar or not.” Holt, of course, has quite an eye himself, and he was exercising it one day just a year ago during the summer of 2008 at the WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Connecticut. He was talking with Ben Fuller, who was for 15 years the curator of the Mystic Seaport Museum and is now curator of the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, SPECIFICATIONS / S&T WHITEHALL LOA: 17'9" Beam: 3'8" Draft: 17.5" Weight: 140-160 lbs. Positions: single and tandem fixed-

seat rowing positions Available options/extras: sliding seat,

sailing rig, custom-designed Trailex aluminum trailer

Basic Rowing Model: $14,000 “Fancy” Rowing Version: $19,000 Builder: Shaw & Tenney, Inc.,

P.O. Box 213 (20 Water Street), Orono, ME 04473. 207-866-4867; www.shawandtenney.com

MAINE BOATS, HOMES & HARBORS

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February / March 2010

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Issue 108


BOATS OF THE YEAR 2009

www.maineboats.com

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niques to create the building jig. “We had the basic parameters,” said Holt. “We literally developed the sheer by eye.” “There was a lot of going on faith, really,” said Martinelli. Hull no. 1 is the more trimmed-out “fancy” version and is on display at Shaw & Tenney’s shop. It is fitted out with single and tandem fixed-seat rowing positions. Customers can choose a

West Bay 37 WEST BAY BOATS saw a trend among owners to refit their existing boats, such as a Connecticut customer whose Dyer 29' was at the Steuben shop for repowering and a refit with new wash rails, coamings, and composite windshield. A West Bay 34 commercial fishing boat was refit as a sportfisherman. Promise, the first West Bay 37 pleasure cruiser, was completed and debuted at the August MAINE BOATS, HOMES & HARBORS S HOW . Woodwork accents include a teak sole in the aft-cockpit, teak and holly soles in the saloon and cuddy cabins, and teak and birch cabinets throughout. The company was in negotiations with Eastgate Yachts to build the “original” Herreshoff Alerion 26 using the infusion process. To share their composites and infusion expertise, members of the crew helped instruct two of the teams of high-school students from around Maine that participated in the state’s 2009 Wind Blade Challenge (www.mainewindbladechallenge.com). Another area of growth may prove to be providing vessels for crew and equipment transport to offshore wind farms. www.westbayboats.com; 207-546-4300.

Leila Murphy

and they began to toss around the idea of designing a small wooden rowing boat. Not one to dally, Holt considered several vintage models and settled on the Whitehall as the basis to launch his own design. This was partly because he has always loved the Whitehall’s looks and rowing characteristics, and partly because, although plenty of Whitehall reproductions are built, most are in fiberglass. Given Shaw & Tenney’s position in a niche market, the production of a classic wooden boat seemed like a natural extension for the business. So Holt and his craftsmen began their research. “We looked at many, many, many Whitehalls and melded many, many designs together,” said Holt. “There was a function and an appearance we were looking for.” Overall, the craft had to be in keeping with the high aesthetic standard that Shaw & Tenney has maintained over its 150-year history. It also had to have exceptional rowing performance.The boats they studied date back a bit farther than Shaw & Tenney itself. According to information from the G. W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport, the Whitehall was developed as in the 1820s near the foot of Whitehall Street, New York City. They were the workboats of commercial ports, fast and with a large carrying capacity. The boat’s looks—full body, sweeping sheer, wineglass stern—as well as its speed and stability attracted the attention of recreational boaters as well. The Shaw & Tenney Whitehall is narrower than the classic design and parts ways on construction technique. The typical Whitehall is carvel-planked, but Holt decided on glued plywood lapstrake construction to keep the weight down and to ensure a watertight hull. At 140 pounds for the basic version and 160 pounds for the “fancy” model, the boat is light enough to be loaded on a trailer and go. Holt credits Thomas J. Hill, author of Ultralight Boatbuilding and an expert in glued lapstrake construction, for his construction advice. S&T craftsman Tom Martinelli and Holt drew up the design together, the two men tinkering as they went. Then Martinelli used traditional lofting tech-

Narrower than the historical Whitehall, Shaw & Tenney’s is fast and light.

sliding seat option and a sailing option. The use of mahogany and sassafras, in a mix of bright and satin finishes, is both lovely and environmentally sound. True to the tradition of old-time craftsmen, Holt and Martinelli continue to tinker with details. Hull no. 2 is the simpler, basic model; Hull no. 3 will likely be the sailing version, but should it have a daggerboard or a centerboard? Shave the scantlings an eighth-inch? Modify the keel construction? Holt and Martinelli agree: the process is exciting, and they’re happy about the reception the boat has received so far. “This is as traditional as it gets,” said Martinelli. N

MAINE BOATS, HOMES & HARBORS

Wilbur 46 Pilothouse WILBUR YACHTS spent the majority of its

36th year in business on the construction of a 46' long-range raised pilothouse cruiser, scheduled for completion in the spring. The project represents a long-time dream, which began when the owner read an article about Annalokin, a 46' Newman that the Southwest Harbor yard finished off in 1978. The new incarnation includes a number of firsts for the yard, such as installation of four 135-watt solar panels and a hook-up for a methanol fuel cell to supplement the panels. The full arrangement of electronics and a night-vision camera enable monitoring of the engine room and cockpit from the helm. There will even be a sewing station so that the owner’s wife can enjoy her artistic passion while aboard. Among other smaller projects, the yard

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Whitehall - Boats of the Year 2009  

Whitehall, Shaw & Tenney. One of the 2009 Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine Boats of the Year.

Whitehall - Boats of the Year 2009  

Whitehall, Shaw & Tenney. One of the 2009 Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine Boats of the Year.

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