The ferry Miss Lizzie coming out of the water for maintenance after a winter of work as one of the Cranberry Isles winter commuter boats. PHOTO COURTESY OF AMANDA BRACY

Virus or no virus, spring is busy at boatyards

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — While the coming Memorial Day weekend will look different in some ways than it does other years, such as no big parades or gatherings, local boatyards are as busy as ever. 

Service yards store boats for customers for the winter and use the time to perform maintenance including painting, waxing, varnish, oil changes and sometimes mechanical upgrades. 

In the spring, the boats, masts, sails and other canvas, rigging and dinghies all come out of storage and are reassembled, washed, prepped and tested. The boat needs to be ready for the owner when he or she arrives to pick it up or to take delivery, often around Memorial Day. 

“We’ve had a few owners say they don’t think they’ll be able to make it here this year,” said Brent Sullivan, general manager of the Hinckley service yards in Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor, “but we’ve had more say they’ll be here early. People … left early to come to their summer homes in Maine. Now they’re here, they’ve quarantined and they want to use their boats … The yard’s buzzing.”

Signs at Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina remind mariners to maintain physical distancing and quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Maine. ISLANDER PHOTOS BY LIZ GRAVES

Hinckley has more than 300 storage and service customers, and JW Boat Co. in Hall Quarry has more than 150. Smaller yards, including Classic Boat Shop in Bernard, also have service customers. 

Getting ready to launch one of the Pisces daysailers his company builds Monday in Manset, Classic Boat owner Jean Beaulieu said some customers are unsure of their exact plans but would like their boats to be ready. 

The boats owned by Steve Pagels’ Downeast Windjammers are also getting spring cleaning. Sutton and Miss Lizzie, the ferries that were used for the Cranberry Isles winter commuter run, were recently hauled for maintenance. Sutton’s summer season, the Cranberry Cove ferry service, begins May 21. The schooner Margaret Todd, which spends the winter in the water at Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina in Southwest Harbor, is also being rigged for the season. 

Jean Beaulieu, owner of Classic Boat Shop, preps a Pisces daysailer for launching on Monday in Manset.

Hinckley’s employees have remained at work all spring since they were classified essential, Sullivan said, but the yard has adopted policies relating to COVID-19 to keep employees and customers safe. 

“There’s not a lot of (in-person) customer interaction at pickup time. We have a real commitment to keeping a safe workplace for our employees and to let them know that we’re looking out for them.” 

Visitors are not allowed in the yard unless they verify that they have obeyed the quarantine order if they’ve come from or traveled out of state. And in general, Sullivan said, “we’re asking people to continue to respect each other’s personal space.” 


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.