I headed back to Maine July 8 for an extended stay, trying to make up for missing last year, when Covid prevented me from my annual addiction. United Airlines wasn’t really interested in getting me all the way there, cancelling my final leg in Washington DC with no offers of assistance to finish my itinerary. So I rented a car and drove 12 hours instead. States are smaller back there, but there sure are a lot of them!
I caught up with Cricket and Pat at WoodenBoat School as they were finishing up their Fundamentals of Boatbuilding course with Greg Rössel–the course that ruined my life about ten years ago. Cricket and Pat were planning to stick around for a while and assist me in teaching Building the McKenzie Dory. With a week to kill we embarked on a tour of boat shops and boat friends of New England. But first a visit to my favorite tool emporium, Cap’t Tinkham’s.
And a sail in my favorite sailboat–the eighty-year-old Herreshoff 12-1/2 named Wee Three.
Greg Rössel was stop number one for coffee and ice cream.
Then on to Annie Nixon and Carob’s. We spent most of a day at the Maine Maritime Museum. Here’s a 32′ batteau–a crazy predecessor to the dory. Their primary purpose was herding logs downriver and breaking up logjams–perhaps eve a more a lethal occupation than cod fishing on the Grand Banks in a dory.
We took a boat tour in the Kennebec River and got the seagull’s eye view of Bath Iron Works. Two destroyers are in their final stages of completion. A traditional Arleigh Burke on the left, and a Darth-Vader-esqe Zumwalt Destroyer on the right, designed to go beneath the waves rather than over them.
The former costs a tad over a billion dollars, the Zumwalts run well over 4 billion plus a share of the 10+ billion of research and development. Of the original 32 Zumwalts planned, this is the third and last. Turns out they’re kind of useless.
Then on to Jane Ahlfeld and Bill Thomas’s place for a fabulous scallop dinner. At Lowell’s Boat Shop we were overcome with deep dory history. This is the birthplace of the Grand Banks Dory, our spiritual mother.
Then on to Mystic Seaport, where we moved into Noël, Ralph Stanley’s largest ever Friendship Sloops. Not bad accommodations, and a nice evening view.
Mystic is a living museum with lots of historic shops and displays in action. I think this was in a wood-carving shop.
The highlight at Mystic was a visit to the Small Boat Collection–the mecca of small wooden boats. Here is Chris unlocking the door to the catacombs.
Then through a door labeled “Broom Closet,” we got to visit the ancestors.
We kinda lost our minds in there. Pictures do no justice. If you’re ever at Mystic during the WoodenBoat Show, sign up for the small boat collection tour. It’s insane. Exhausted we returned home.
The next day we visited the Whaling Museum in New Bedford. Yet another amazing place which for some reason I neglected to photograph. We had lunch with George and Sherri Kirby, then went to the shop.
Here is Cricket with the official Fretwater Boatworks Rolodex card and all the key information on our custom colors. This place is sophisticated!
And here is Cricket mixing a quart of our favorite custom color, Willys Beryl Green.
Shake it up.
Not content with his hospitality thus far, George took us out to Kirby Point for a lovely evening by the pond.
We swung through Gloucester to visit Geno Mondello’s Dory Shop, but Geno is a hard guy to track down. Then on through Essex and the Shipbuilding Museum and back to Lowell’s Boat Shop to fulfill a mission. The display of old paint had been sadly lacking any Kirby Paint. This has now been rectified.
Our timing was impeccable–we were just in time for Graham Mackay’s introductory tour for docents, complete with snacks and a Dark and Stormy.
We spent the last night of our tour with my high school friend Elise, with whom I–we–were immortalized some fifty years ago as “Most Individual” in our senior class. It is a burden we have had to bear these many decades.