Lobstah Fever

A glimpse into the Down East dreams of wannabe watermen.

If you follow this column, you might recall that last year at about this time I was holed up at our “camp” in the woods north of the border dreaming about boats — that dreaming allowed my friend and enabler Scott Deal to convince me I needed another boat. Scott is owner of Hewes Boats and he delivered my new 18-footer last October. When we arrived in Quebec this year, my dreams took a turn Down East.

It started with a phone call from my broker pal Jon. Jon is a certified enabler who has been teasing me about my monogamous 18-year marriage to Anhinga (our 37 Bertram) for years. He has owned a similar 37 for a dozen months and is ready to move on. Jon is a swinger when it comes to boats and has had relationships with 33 in just 30 years. As he cataloged the shortcomings of his past rides, he explained that the next target on his "bucket list of boats" was a true Down Easter. Not some prissy, retro recreation, but the sort of yar design that would signal that he/we (I'd already bought in) were true watermen.

In our dream we sell our 37s for twice their current market value to a pair of Martians who haven't heard that boat owners are currently suffering through the best buyer's market in 30 years. Our wallets stuffed with cash, we set off to Maine in the wint-ah in search of a small boat shop with smoke burping from the chimney and a pair of snow-covered 40-foot "projects" hidden out back. While jawboning alongside a potbellied stove with a pipe chewing Main-ah, we learn that his projects belonged to a couple of "city fellers" — yuppie bankers who choked when the market crapped out. "Ay-yuh … sonny, them there's the prettiest little Down East-ahs we've evah set up, and see-in's right from the git-go that you fellas are true waterm'n, why, they'll just need a bit-a dressing up to suit ya."

At this point in our dream the chat turns to the weath-ah and what’s for supp-ah since we are one with our build-ah in terms of just what makes a boat prop-ah. Without glancing round back we know our boats have modest Down East sheer sweeps, traditional spoon stems and a touch of tumblehome at the transom — not overdone or yachty. There will be no fighting lady yellow or flag blue finishes; our boats will be chalk-white gelcoat with a hand-brushed boot stripe. Commercial aluminum hatches will be screwed into their off-white nonskid cockpit soles. Each will be a “good 50-footer” in that the finish will look good from 50 feet. As my boats are named for seabirds and Jon’s for his wife, our build-ah will not suff-ah the humiliation of brushing foolish yuppie wordplay onto their transoms. In the local vernacular, our boats will be “cork-ahs.”

When the snow melts, our build-ah will have our boats in the water on budget — this is a dream, after all. We will each go down to the sea in our ship, perched at our helm in a stout commercial chair with a firm grip on a single-lever Panish and a destroyer-style Edson — no sissy electronic wizardry or hand-carved wooden wheels. There will be no need for joysticks, thrusters or pods: We will be masters of the single diesel, propeller and rudder.

With our vision pinned down, I am setting a course toward Maine in search of local knowledge and Jon is scanning the listings for vessels in distress. If we can lure a few Martians to Earth to fund our dream, we’ll soon be donning Sou’westers and heading Down East!