John Williams Boat Company production manager Bill Wright peeks into the bilge of Puffin, a 1986 Stanley 36 picnic boat originally built at the Hall Quarry boatyard. The cruiser is in for some cosmetic upgrades, including new teak decking. ISLANDER PHOTO BY TAYLOR BIGLER

Projects keep crews busy at John Williams



MOUNT DESERT — Once the sailboats, pleasure yachts and working boats leave their respective harbors for hibernation, many undergo winter tune-ups so that they are in tip-top shape come spring.

This winter, the crew at John Williams Boat Company in Hall Quarry is keeping busy with a number of projects.

The smallest of those projects is the fabrication of a fiberglass dodger for a 48-foot Farr Design Concordia-built sailboat manufactured in 1983.

“As far as I know, this is the only fiberglass dodger we’ve ever made,” said project manager Bill Wright.

For the first time, John Williams Boat Company has manufactured a fiberglass dodger for a 1983 48-foot Farr Design, Concordia-built sailboat. The semi-permanent dodger will offer more protection from the elements. ISLANDER PHOTO BY TAYLOR BIGLER

Fiberglass dodgers are thought to provide more protection from the elements than soft-top options by keeping the companionway warmer and drier.

A semi-permanent dodger also changes the look and feel of the deck.

“It has more of a pilothouse feel to it,” Wright said.

But there is a reason why soft-top dodgers are more common.

“These can be pricey,” said Wright of the fiberglass, “not $300,000, but pricey.”

The fiberglass dodger can be removed, but only by the professionals at a boatyard.

Once the dodger is complete, it will be fabricated onto Weathergauge, a 48-foot Farr Design getting a refresh in another of John Williams’ bays.

The Northeast Harbor-based sailboat undergoing a new paint job, refit and varnish.

Puffin, a Stanley 36 built at John Williams more than 30 years ago, also is undergoing a tune-up. She is based in Stonington, Conn., in summer and Newport Beach, Calif., in the winters.

The customer who commissioned the boat in 1986 remained her single owner until it was passed on to his son.

It is undergoing a cosmetic rebuild: new decks, rub rail, toe rail and bow sprit.

It suffered severe damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and came to John Williams for a new engine and other mechanical upgrades a couple years back.

Now, it is getting a cosmetic makeover with new teak decks from Teakdecking Systems in Sarasota, Fla.

“Their work is superior to any other’s,” Wright said.

The Stanley 36 is John Williams’ flagship picnic boat, designed by Williams more than 30 years ago.

The boats offer the design of a traditional lobster boat with the amenities and finish work of a pleasure cruiser.

“Our big focus is on this [Stanley 36],” said Wright. “It will be ready by the end of March or April in time to get out for the spring.”

One of the boatyard’s most unique projects of the moment is the refinish of Jolly Boat, a circa 1890s wooden sailboat thought to have been built by Henry B. Nevins.

Nevins was a master boatbuilder out of City Island, N.Y., from 1907 to 1949.

His boatyard seasoned its own lumber, made its own glue and designed and manufactured its own fittings, which made for sturdy construction and a long lifespan.

Jolly Boat is owned by a local family out of Seal Harbor and has been passed down through generations.

“The family has taken great care of it, and it is in excellent shape,” said Wright.

In addition to these larger projects, John Williams performs regular maintenance on 120-130 boats in certain stages of repair.

“We’ve always got something going on,” said Wright.

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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