TREMONT — A thunderstorm cell loomed on the horizon, but bright sunshine greeted the small crowd that gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate the launch of National Pride, the first of a new design of lobster boat by Richard Stanley.
The sturdy hull of the handsome 38-foot boat was built with Maine white cedar planking on oak frames. But the top is fiberglass, which Stanley said will be easier to maintain. The hybrid style also should make deck leaks less likely, a primary driver of rot and decay for a wooden hull.
“With a fiberglass top, it eliminates the freshwater getting down into the boat. In the old days with wooden tops, if they were maintained properly, the tops would stay tight and keep freshwater out. Because it usually didn’t happen that way, it ended up leaking, freshwater got down there, and it started rotting out.”
Stanley heard from fishermen that maintenance of the old wooden lobster boats was a drag, but it was the deck and top structure that took the most time.
Work on National Pride‘s hull began a year ago, with a crew including Stanley and his wife, Lorraine, Jonathan Minott, Chris Peterson, David Sordyl, Chris Rose and Keith Peterson.
National Pride’s top was custom built by Edgerly Boats in Surry, delivered to Stanley’s shop on Little Island in Bass Harbor and placed on the hull using the Travelift.
The boat’s owner, Doug Mayo, owner of the former Morris Yachts property in Bass Harbor, rode the boat down the old marine railway at the Little Island yard and steamed across the harbor to his property. Mayo also owns waterfront businesses in Portland, which he worries is becoming overcrowded.
He hasn’t decided on what the boat will be used for, he said, but it may include passenger trips with lobster fishing demonstrations or even tuna fishing.
The Stanleys are hoping to sell lobstermen on the wood-glass hybrid idea, arguing a wood hull is better for fishermen’s knees and backs. Because it sits and moves in the water differently, there’s less of the pounding that fishermen are used to.
“The wood absorbs vibrations, and fiberglass magnifies it,” Stanley said.
Using fiberglass for the boat’s top will save time and money for fishermen. Lorraine Stanley said the design could be the difference between a $350,000 boat and a $550,000 all-wood one.
“It would be cheapest if someone could find an existing top they liked,” she said. Then Stanley could design a custom hull for it. Or a boat could be built using fiberglass panels.
“This is going to be a big help not just for the fishermen using the boats but also for the wooden boatbuilding industry,” said Ralph Stanley, Richard’s father, in a statement when the project began last year. “The way I’ve always thought about it, the most important part of the tradition of boatbuilding is the constant striving to improve the design, the materials, the means of construction. So in my view, Richard isn’t going against tradition as much as he is exemplifying the best it has to offer.”