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New faces, new boats, and going green

By Polly Saltonstall

From left to right: Brian Larkin, Eric Blake, and Steve White with his dog, Lucy.

Changing of the guard

After almost 33 years at the helm of Brooklin Boat Yard, Steve White has handed control of the yard over to two long-time employees. Brian Larkin will take over from White as president, and Eric Blake will become vice president, head of new construction.

White, who took over the running of the yard from his father Joel White in 1990, had transferred ownership of the yard to employees in 2020 in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP for short.) The leadership transition is the next step.

White began working at the yard in 1965 when he was 13. Under his leadership since 1990, Brooklin Boat Yard has grown to 70 employees and earned a reputation for building cold-molded performance yachts. BBY was founded in 1960 by Joel White, who both designed and built classic, fast wooden boats.

“Brian and Eric have been carrying the lion’s share of the work now for several years and doing a great job,” White said. “Thanks to both of them, the rest of the management team, and the entire Brooklin Boat Yard crew, I think it’s the strongest team we’ve ever had.”

White plans to stay on in a limited role in the sales department, promoting the yard’s services.

Larkin’s family has been in Brooklin since 1740. His grandfather and great-grandfather were both boatbuilders and captains. He started at Brooklin Boat Yard in 1987 after college, and has filled many different roles since.

Blake began building wooden boats mainly as a means for fishing during his childhood in Vermont. He spent his 20s traveling and apprenticing in different places, before landing at Brooklin Boat Yard, where he has worked for 17 years. In his spare time, he teaches boatbuilding at The Brooklin School. He also is a founder of

Maine Yacht Center acquires rigger

After 33 years of providing quality rigging services to the boating community of northern New England, Maloney Marine Rigging has been acquired by Maine Yacht Center. The name of the company has changed to Maine Marine Rigging.

Jay Maloney started Maloney Marine Rigging in January of 1990, as the first Navtec Rod Rigging and Hydraulics service center in Maine and New Hampshire. “Other than the change of ownership and name, everything else remains the same,” he said in a news release. “MMR (the new company) will operate as its own business entity from our existing rigging shop located at Hodgdon Yacht Services in Southport, Maine. MMR will continue to provide the same high level of professional rigging services to the marine industry and boating community as we have for 33 years.”

The newly renamed entity will continue to service, inspect, and build new rod rigging, covering both Navtec (by Hayn Enterprises) and BSI A/S rod rigging, service and repair Navtec and Harken hydraulic systems, and provide a full range of marine and architectural rigging products and services.

Maloney will remain working for Maine Marine Rigging for a year while overseeing the transfer of management to long-time employee Mike Sussman. Sussman, an 18-year veteran of Maloney Marine Rigging, is also the company’s rod rigging and hydraulic specialist.

MMR has also hired Steven Loughran, who has 15 years of experience as a professional yacht rigger, holds a USCG 100T Captain’s license, and has logged more than 100,000 miles at sea.

Maine Yacht Center is a full-service boatyard and 115-slip marina located in Portland, Maine. In the 33 years since its founding, MMR (formerly Maloney Marine Rigging) has worked on many projects, including museum restorations, the suspension of sculptures in cruise ships, maintaining a 1959 Grand Banks fishing schooner, supporting an Olympic campaign, and rigging out everything from ice boats to megayachts.

Electric boat training

These days, electric engines seem to be to boating what kale was to eating a few years ago. Everywhere you turn, there’s a new design on the table for an electric engine or boat.

A group of Maine organizations has taken note and have partnered to develop a training course for mechanics in the servicing of electric boat engines. The goal is to create career opportunities, while also boosting boat buyers’ confidence in investing in the new technology. The partnership includes the Island Institute, Maine Electric Boat, the Maine Community College Systems, and the Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland. The first course is a free, 90-minute online video that offers an overview of electric boats, and career opportunities in the field. Two additional courses are expected to launch this spring and summer.

Ocean-based carbon credits

While we’re on the topic of making boating greener, Microsoft has turned to Maine-based Running Tide, to help achieve the software giant’s goal of being a “carbon negative” company by 2030, according to an article in Mainebiz.

The Portland-based company practices carbon removal by dropping buoys seeded with algae into the ocean. The buoys sink to the bottom where they either are buried or become part of the food chain, according the report, which stated that Running Tide will remove the equivalent of 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the next two years on behalf of Microsoft.

Microsoft sees the partnership as a way to “help scale the carbon removal market” and improve the quality of measuring, reporting, and verifying such efforts through essentially bulk purchases.

Running Tide, which bills itself as an ocean health company, has operational sites elsewhere in Maine, as well as an agronomy and genetics laboratory in St. Louis, MO. The company’s largest carbon removal project is based in Iceland.

Shrink wrap conundrum

It’s springtime and that means shedding the trappings of winter, including all that shrink wrap that protected our boats from the sleet and snow.

Eva Baker of Clean Ocean Access, a Rhode Island-based group that has implemented shrink wrap recycling programs throughout the Northeast, met recently with Maine Marine Trades Association representatives to discuss expanding programs in the state. MMTA and Maine DEP receive multiple inquiries each year about recycling boat shrink wrap, MMTA Director Stacey Keefer noted in a release inviting boatyards to a meeting about the issue. Over the past two years over 54,120 pounds of shrink wrap plastic have been diverted from Maine landfills and incinerators and turned into post-consumer resin, according to MMTA. While this is a significant amount of waste, it translates to only about 500 boats’ (approx. 30 ft length) worth of shrink wrap, the MMTA release noted.

“With roughly 100,000 boats registered in Maine and many more documented vessels, we’ve managed to just scratch the surface with this project, and we believe we can do better,” wrote Keefer in the email. “It may seem like there is not a process in Maine for shrink wrap recycling, however there are options for places to ship the collected plastic in the U.S. The missing pieces are boatyards willing and able to carefully remove the wrap and store it in provided bags (that could get passed along in your shrink wrap pricing); a central storage/baling site would be very helpful in the midcoast/southern Maine area; and general education to boat storage customers and yard crews who dismantle the covers,” she wrote.

To be recyclable, zippers, rivets, tape, and anything that isn’t actual shrink wrap must be removed, and the plastic must be reasonably clean, according to a story about the issue in the Maine Monitor. Before it’s transported to a plant for recycling, the shrink wrap also has to be compressed into a block, which requires a baler.

Baker, of Clean Ocean Access, said one key to getting boatyards and boat owners to recycle their shrink wrap is to make it as easy to recycle as it is to throw something in the trash.

To that end, the organization hopes to expand its “Pay As You Throw” program in the state, in which customers fill a specialized bag with shrink wrap (bags cost $19 and hold about 30 pounds, or a 30-foot boat’s worth), the Monitor wrote. The bags are then collected, compressed and sent to a plant in New Jersey, where the material is remade into things like plastic water bottles and grocery bags. Six Maine boatyards participate in the bag program, most of them in and around Penobscot and Frenchman Bay, according to the Monitor.

Clean Ocean Access would like to see the plastic remade into shrink wrap or used for another marine application, but that will take some work, according to the Monitor story. The nonprofit would also like boat owners to consider other options, such as tarps and plastic or cloth covers that can be fitted to a boat and used for several years.

Hodgdon ramps up tender production

Hodgdon Tenders, the superyacht tender division of Hodgdon Yachts, has signed contracts with a repeat client for three 40-foot tenders, which will be delivered in 2025 to a new build project currently underway in Northern Europe, according to a news release.

Design and Naval Architecture of the Limousine, Open, and Beachlander Sport tenders is by Michael Peters Yacht Design, and engineering is by Hodgdon Tenders’ in-house team. All three tenders will have custom features, stainless steel detailing, and underwater lights to complement their mothership.

The Limousine tender will include luxury interior accommodations for 15 guests, climate control, leather upholstery, integrated champagne storage, and a glass roof. Highlights of the Open tender will include a spacious cockpit, large aft sunpad, and generous storage areas. The Beachlander Sport tender will have a forward hydraulic bow ramp, folding composite t-top, and day head.

“Having delivered numerous American built tenders to top projects, we have had a full order book at Hodgdon Tenders and we’re grateful for the opportunity to build three more,” said Audrey Hodgdon, Director of Sales & Marketing.

New nurse joins Seacoast Mission

Islanders accustomed to visits from the Maine Seacoast Mission’s outreach vessel Sunbeam V will soon see a new face on board. Simone Babineaux has joined the mission as the nurse on the Mission’s 74-foot boat. The Sunbeam provides outreach and health services to unbridged islands on the Maine coast.

In addition to traveling on the boat, the nurse visits outer islands and helps connect island residents with doctors and specialists. Babineaux will run the mission’s telehealth program, make home visits, and provide direct care including flu and Covid shot clinics and wellness visits. She also will facilitate the island elder care network.

Babineaux has been a registered nurse and family nurse practitioner for more than 25 years. She has worked in public health in Los Angeles, was a staff nurse at a medical clinic in Moscow, Russia, and was a first responder during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Most recently she has worked as a nurse practitioner at an assisted living facility and did home health assessments with individuals with multiple complex health care needs.

From canoes to marquee letters

Rollin Thurlow is known as one of Maine’s pre-eminent canoe builders and restorers. But, according to an article in the Bangor Daily News, he has an interesting side gig. Every six weeks or so, usually on the weekend, he transforms his workshop into what he calls a “letter hospital,” where he patches up the iconic red block letters from the marquee of the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft. Built in 1940, the theatre is both a local landmark and community icon. The big plastic marquee letters that announce events are brittle and crack and break easily and they are expensive to replace, that is if you can find them, the theatre’s director Patrick Myers told the newspaper. That’s where Thurlow comes in. He is one of the people who helps change the marquee between events. “Rollin’s willingness to repair them is very important for us,” Myers said. “It grew out of the fact that he was changing the marquee, and it seemed like a waste not to fix them.”

Thurlow, who has been building canoes under the name Northwoods Canoe Co. since 1982, was a leading player in efforts to revive the Center Theatre beginning in the late 1990s. Now he switches out marquee messages about once a week, while Myers and others handle different days.

And he repairs the letters that fall to the ground and crack because he loves the place. “Being a boatbuilder, I had different types of glues and compounds and had to figure out what worked. Eventually some worked pretty good,” Thurlow told the BDN.

Boothbay program finds new home

After 10 years, the Boothbay Sea and Science Center has a new home and will continue the tradition of working waterfront at the former estate of Mildred A. Carter on Linekin Bay, East Boothbay. Founded on values of inclusiveness, hands-on learning, and environmental stewardship, the science center will continue to offer innovative and experiential sea and science learning activities for youth ages 5 to 17. The organization has integrated marine science into its summer program of rowing and sailing and brought the Exploring the Science of Seaweed Farming program into Maine schools.

The 2023 science center summer program will open June 19 on the new property on Carter Road in East Boothbay. The new campus gives BSSC not just a permanent home, but expanded waterfront access with three piers, a boat shed, and employee housing, and will allow BSSC to continue to expand from seasonal to year-round programming and provide the platform for after school programs such as a Science Club for middle-schoolers. Custom Float Services is working to prepare the main pier for the arrival of young learners in June. Rob Whitten of Whitten Architects has developed a sketch concept for the use of BSSC’s new home. Executive Director Pauline Dion continues to amass an ever-growing list of BSSC collaborations that includes shipyards, boatbuilders, marine science labs, aquaculturists, seaweed farmers, research organizations, artists, musicians, and local schools. 

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