New home for Bayside Documentation

ELLSWORTH — The jump from processing insurance claims to registering new vessel ownership with the U.S. Coast Guard may seem a long one, but for Susan Brown, owner of the Bayside Documentation Co., the transition was natural and successful.

More than two decades ago, Brown moved to Downeast Maine from Vermont and took a clerical job with the Hinckley Insurance Agency in Manset. At the time, the insurance business was in the same building as the Hinckley Co. yacht brokerage office run by Robert Hinckley.

Brown took over the paperwork needed to get a federal ship’s “document,” the equivalent of a state registration form, for new Hinckley yachts and boats sold through the brokerage office.

She found she enjoyed the work enough so that she asked her boss at the insurance office if she could offer documentation services to other Mount Desert Island boatbuilders such as Ellis Boats and Lee Wilbur Yachts.

She got the go-ahead and, in 1994, the Hinckley Documentation Service was established with Brown at the helm.

By 1998, Brown had two young children in school and felt she needed to work from her home in Trenton rather than the office on MDI. When she couldn’t work out a satisfactory arrangement with Hinckley, she started Bayside Documentation Co.

Besides local boatbuilders and yacht brokers, Brown was working with several local banks that provided financing for some of the transactions and secured their loans with a “first preferred ship mortgage” that was physically recorded on the paper document that evidenced vessel ownership.

At first nearly all of her work involved recreational vessels, but now about 80 percent of the transactions involve commercial fishing vessels.

Five years ago, Brown hired Amanda Brand of Ellsworth to help with the reams of paperwork. Brand’s then-husband, she said, was a sternman on one of the boats documented through Bayside.

This fall, she moved Bayside’s office from Trenton to its new home at 194 Main St. in Ellsworth and, with Brown in Florida for the winter, Brand is fully in charge.

Besides documentation services, Brand said Bayside also helps fishermen with the paperwork involved in obtaining or transferring the federal permits required to participate in certain fisheries.


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