Rotting wood and varnish have always been elixirs to Earl McMillen III. Growing up in Georgia, his family owned a 68-foot, 1927 Densmore-built cruiser named Mahogany Lady, which they kept in the Florida Keys and used for vacations and on weekends. Later, they had a house on a mountain lake with a large concentration of classic runabouts. He'd hang out at the boathouse where many of the old-timers were restored and watch the craftsmen. In the mid-1980s, McMillen and his father restored a 39-foot, 1939 Elco as a project following the death of his little brother in a car accident. As he moved into his 30s, the experiences congealed into a career and a deep commitment to preserving classic yachts. Today, Newport-based McMillen Yachts, Inc., restores, maintains and manages a fleet of about a half-dozen classic powerboats and sailing yachts. Through a pioneering fractional ownership program, the company acquires and operates the boats for the pleasure of its partners and the posterity of the yachting community at large.