Jim Elk caulking Amicitia’s seams with cotton in his shop. PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Maintaining a Friendship takes time



BAR HARBOR — Make new boats, the old song has it, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is … definitely worth saving.

The crew at Elk Spar and Boat on Norway Drive has completed a two-year project restoring the 1965 Friendship sloop Amicitia. The name is Latin for “friendship.”

It was built by the Lash Brothers, who had a yard on the water in Friendship from 1926 until 1987 when the shop burned down. After that, the business moved to a building on Route 97, where today they focus on fishing boats.

At 33 feet, Amicitia is an unusual Friendship sloop design, with a hull that comes nearly flat before the turn in the bilge. It was designed by John Alden, Jim Elk said. “I’ve never seen another one like it. I don’t know whether he designed it to be fast – it certainly would be. Like a yacht almost.”

Before its launch, the boat was finished by Simm’s boatyard in Scituate, Mass., where more yacht-like touches were added. There’s a teak and holly cabin sole, mahogany trim and an ornate varnished pin rail at the mast – all unusual in the Friendship lobster sloop lineage.

Simm’s Brothers also is still in business and also has moved – down the road to Marshfield, Mass.

Amicitia, Friendship Sloop sail number 64, was built in 1965 by the Lash Brothers in Friendship. It’s now based in New Bedford with owner Jeff Pontiff. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF PONTIFF

Amicitia, Friendship Sloop sail number 64, was built in 1965 by the Lash Brothers in Friendship. It’s now based in New Bedford with owner Jeff Pontiff. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF PONTIFF

“The original owner was a doctor in Scituate,” said Jeff Pontiff of New Bedford, the boat’s owner since 1975. Pontiff served in Vietnam. One day while he was there, a care package arrived from his parents containing a copy of “Yankee” magazine. There was a feature article in that issue about Friendship sloops, and Pontiff remembers thinking, “Boy, those are good-looking boats!”

Through some friends who were founding members of the Friendship Sloop Society, he learned Amicitia was for sale in East Greenwich, Conn. “I took money I had saved up from my combat pay and bought the boat,” he said.

Pontiff also is a longtime reader of “Wooden Boat” magazine, and it was there he found Elk Spar and Boat when he needed a new mast in 2014.

Elk offered to deliver the new mast himself in the winter of that year, and took a look at the boat when he arrived. At the time, it had not been in the water for several years.

“It was a mess,” Elk said. “The cabinside was all rotten, the deck was all rotten. Everywhere we went, it was bad – except for the hull itself. The hull was in really good shape, so the boat was definitely worth fixing up.

“All we were going to do was fix the rot, and then, this year, he decided just to go whole hog and fix the whole thing. It turned into this two-year project.

Elk removed the transom planks. “It was all adrift in there,” he said.

“We cut the whole house off, and I picked it up with my winches and flipped it upside down” to paint and varnish the ornate overhead.

They rebuilt most of the deck and some of the cockpit. They replaced a few hull planks and tightened up and refinished the varnished transom.

Pontiff can’t wait to get his new old Friendship on the water this season. He hopes to participate in some of the Friendship Sloop Society races and events.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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