David Vinal Beal, 83 years old, passed away peacefully on Tuesday morning, July 20, at his home on Somes Sound, surrounded by his family.
David was a commercial fisherman and owner-operator of Abel’s Lobster Pound, and founder of the H.R. Abel Yacht Yard in Mount Desert. He was born on April 19, 1938, to Alston Alley Beal and Eva (Abel) Beal of Manset.
David came from a long line of Maine fishermen, sea captains, sailors and boat builders. His grandfather, Captain Vinal O. Beal, was a lighthouse keeper on Mount Desert Rock. David’s father, Alston, was a local lobsterman who was lost at sea when David was only 8 months old. Raised by his mother, Eva, and his grandparents, Henry R. and Nadia (Thurston) Abel, David grew up working at Abel’s Lobster Pound digging clams, and cooking lobsters for the restaurant.
Upon graduating from Bar Harbor High School in 1957, David joined the Merchant Marine. He hitchhiked from MDI to Marcus Hook, Pa., to catch his ship, the S.S. Delaware Sun. He saw many ports of call throughout the Middle East and Asia. In 1959, he returned to the island and married his wife, Carol E. Merchant of Somesville. David continued shipping until 1961 when he and Carol had enough money saved to purchase the lobster pound from his grandfather. In 1973, David and Carol began the H.R. Abel Yacht Yard. The couple, along with their four children, worked hard over the years to successfully grow both businesses.
David was known for his deep-sea fishing and diving exploits. He holds a record for the largest Mako shark caught in local waters (1,400 pounds gutted), according to the College of the Atlantic. An avid scuba diver, David was always eager to share his passion for the sea with others. Over the last 40 years, he hosted countless fishing and dive trips aboard his beloved boat, Sea State. Some occasions resulted in his swimming with whales and seals, catching a massive 20-plus-pound lobster while on a dive, and surviving a rogue wave with both his boat and crew intact.
In 1990, David refitted his boat for a treasure-diving excursion to the Bahamas. With a few friends for crew and a well provisioned hold, David piloted the Sea State from Somes Sound all the way down to Nassau, where he dove on a local Spanish wreck from the 1760s. While he did not find the lost treasure, he did have a bountiful adventure that provided many memories and stories over the years. David was a larger-than-life figure who dared to do things most others would not. Known for his generosity and hospitality, David loved to share his adventures, and the stories they generated, with his friends and family. He will be profoundly missed.
David is survived by his wife of 63 years, Carol (Merchant) Beal; his daughters Bonnie (Beal) Moryc of Mariaville, Kathy (Beal) Butler and her husband, Michael, of Lamoine, and Heidi (Beal) Staab and her husband, Torsten, of Mount Desert; granddaughters Megan Yates of Lubec, Katie Murphy of Lamoine, grandsons Maximilian and Ulrich Staab of Mount Desert; step-grandchildren, Eric, Adam, and Anna Butler of Franklin/Lamoine; several great-grandchildren, a niece, several nephews and many cousins. He was predeceased by his son David A. Beal, his sister Alison (Beal) Fletcher and his son-in-law, Richard Moryc.
A private family memorial will be held at Somes Sound Cemetery.