A Field Trip to Maine
A Field Trip to MaineReport Abuse
I spent two days last week interviewing boatbuilders in Maine. After conducting 23 interviews at 11 different manufacturers, I came away ready to order a boat from each one. That's a little beyond my budget, however.
Business is thriving for both large and small builders, and I was intrigued at every stop. First, the people working on these boats approach their craft with a tremendous amount of pride. I heard over and over again that peer pressure amongst workers keeps everyone working at a high level. The skills required to build boats take years to develop, and veteran boatbuilders always seem to help the newcomers.
As with any business, strong management is key. Tom Morris and Cabot Lyman, two of the leaders I spoke with, both like to work with their hands, and the product they turn out is extraordinary. New technologies are evident at every level. But while the boats are high-end, the facilities they're built in are spartan. There's quite a strong emphasis on being green in Maine: at the Lyman-Morse yard, a solar panel roof keeps a new 24,000 square foot building warm with solar energy alone. Very impressive.
To see some of the interviews, go to www.mainebuiltboats.com.
Be True to Your Club
I also conducted 15 interviews at the 2008 Sperry Top-Sider Annapolis NOOD. I was intrigued by one J/24 sailor who showed me her yacht club burgee tattooed on her backside. Now that's dedication.
I filmed out on the water on Sunday on a blustery, rainy day and caught some excellent early-season racing. In the Melges 24 class Brian Porter showed a lot of flair by winning handily. He used the regatta as a tune up for the Melges 24 Championship next month in Italy.