Richard Stanley with frames for the hull of a 38-foot powerboat that will feature a wooden hull and fiberglass top. ISLANDER PHOTO BY TAYLOR BIGLER

Wooden boatbuilder tinkers with a ‘hybrid’

TREMONT — It goes without saying that Richard Stanley has wooden boats in his blood. But at Richard Stanley Custom Boats, he is working on a new design that combines both wood and fiberglass fabrication with the goal of keeping wooden boats economically accessible to local fishermen.

As a compromise between the expense of wood and the relative ease of fiberglass, Stanley recently designed a 38-foot powerboat with a wooden hull and a fiberglass top. It’s an idea he has kicked around for years, but it wasn’t until recently that he found the perfect customer for which to execute his design.

The boat, commissioned by Doug Mayo of Portland, will be used as a charter fishing vessel and a recreational boat for family and friends. It is expected to be launched next spring.

Using fiberglass for the boat’s top will save time and money. Lorraine Stanley said the design could be the difference between a $350,000 boat and a $550,000 one. She did not give an estimate of how much this particular boat will cost.

Many fiberglass boats have wooden tops. But Stanley thinks that approach is backwards.

A wooden hull moves more smoothly through water, there is less engine vibration, and hulls can be customized to each customer, Stanley said.

“Wooden boats are easier on the fishermen’s bodies,” he said. “The wood absorbs vibrations, and fiberglass magnifies it.”

Many boatbuilders use fiberglass hulls and use wood for the tops as a way to showcase craftsmanship.

But Stanley believes the hull is where wood construction is needed the most.

“I can take and customize a design to the wants and needs of an individual,” he said. “With fiberglass there is no innovation in the shape of the hull. With wood, I am not stuck to a set shape.”

Richard Stanley’s father and Maine’s Boatbuilder Laureate Ralph Stanley said the design will be a boon for wooden boatbuilders.

“This is going to be a big help not just for the fishermen using the boats, but also for the wooden boatbuilding industry,” Ralph Stanley said in a press release announcing his son’s new design. “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.”

While Stanley may have built other 38-foot boats, there is no such thing as a “Stanley 38” because each model is unique.

Stanley used an old half-model of a 38-footer as a guide for this design but has made some changes along the way.

He widened the body to accommodate the customer’s request to have his 550-hp John Deere engine be completely under the platform so that there is no box or step in the platform.

As for amenities, the boat will have a V-berth, a head and a small galley. There also will be a mast and boom for hauling in large fish.

Stanley said local fishermen tend towards fiberglass for their working boats, but he hopes this design can help reverse that trend.

“I like building boats for people who are using them to make a living,” he said. “Wood is heavier, more rugged, stronger. Lives depend on it.”





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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