The staff of John Williams Boat Company pose for a picture in front of their latest project before the launch ceremony on July 21. ISLANDER PHOTO BY VICTORIA DECOSTER

Boat company launches new design after decade-long hiatus

Sea Shepherds is named after Bob Stolar’s two German Shepherds.

HALL QUARRY — For the first time in over a decade, John Williams Boat Company launched one of its own handcrafted vessels off the shores of its Hall Quarry location during a ceremony July 21. 

The Williams 28 Bass Boat, named Sea Shepherds after its owner Bob Stolar’s two dogs, took a total of 10 months and over 3,800 hours to complete.  

And after a toast from boat company owner John “Jock” Williams commemorating the build and a champagne christening on the bow, Sea Shepherds finally touched water and did what it was so expertly made for: sailing the harbors of Mount Desert Island. 

“We pray that she will perform her duties and responsibilities in an admirable way,” Williams said during his speech. “We ask just one favor: that we keep the bottom of this boat 2 feet from the bottom of the ocean floor at all times.” 

Stolar approached Williams to commission the project. The bass boat features a Yanmar 250-horsepower engine housed inside a hand-laid solid fiberglass body and a signature teakwood windshield, which make it perfect for cruising and fishing.  

“It’s exciting to build,” Williams said. “There’s nothing like building a new boat because you’re starting with a clean slate.” 

The company has been building boats from scratch for over 50 years, notching more than 200 on its belt, but has moved away from the craft towards servicing, repairs and storage as Williams has aged. 

Williams, who built the company from the ground up, said he had been the impetus for construction. As the boat yard grew – now boasting over 230 boats with three offshore storing sites – it made more sense to stick to what provided more money and stability.  

John Williams (left) and Bob Stolar stand in front of the new boat before toasting to its launch.

“In order to be in the building mode, you have to work at it,” 83-year-old Williams said. “You have to go out and hustle.” 

The former naval cadet is no stranger to hard work, and neither are his crew of skilled craftsmen who, for some, have been at the job for over 30 years. 

John Fernandez has been in the business of building boats since 1974. Although he’s semi-retired, he worked on the project three days a week, “laying the hull,” or constructing the main body, carpentry and engineering. 

“I love doing it and I love the people that I work with,” Fernandez said.  

Jaime Weir, the company’s general manager, said his team is open to taking on customer requests for new designs in the future.  

“This is really kind of a fun project for us,” said Weir. “It’s kind of got our boatbuilding juices flowing again.”  

Victoria DeCoster

Victoria DeCoster

Victoria DeCoster covers the Bar Harbor area including town boards and committees. She recently moved to the island after graduating from Syracuse University last year. Contact Victoria with tips and story ideas at [email protected].
Victoria DeCoster

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