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Boat Projects, an Amazing Cat, Dredging

By Polly Saltonstall

Wisp’s cold-molded hull takes up nearly the entire floor at Artisan Boatworks. Photo by Ted Ruegg Classic daysailer under way at Artisan

A Stephens Waring computer rendering shows the fine lines of the 39-foot daysailer. Rendering courtesy Stephens Waring The crew at Artisan Boatworks in Rockport started work Sept. 1 building a 39-foot luxury wood-epoxy daysailer for an owner in Connecticut. Wisp combines a classic appearance with modern construction, technology, and sail-handling innovations, according to Stephens Waring Yacht Design, which designed the boat. The hull features moderately shaped overhangs, a lead bulb keel, and spade rudder. Above deck, sweeping coamings will enclose a comfortable and spacious cockpit. 

According to Artisan’s Alec Brainerd, the client wanted a fast, good-looking boat that would be easy to sail for a couple. All the sail functions, including the main sheet and roller furlers will be controlled by push-button hydraulics. While Wisp will have a cabin with a full interior, her owner intends to use the boat for day sailing not cruising, Brainerd said.

Wisp is scheduled for a July launch.

At 95 feet LOA, Project Ouzel is Rockport Marine’s biggest project yet. Launch day is planned for July 2025. Image courtesy Rockport Marine Luxury cruiser at Rockport Marine

The crew at Rockport Marine is building a 95-foot sailing yacht drawn up by Langan Design Partners of Newport, Rhode Island. The design is a modern interpretation of a classic pilothouse cutter. While her lines reflect a classic style of yachting, the low-profile deckhouse and generous overhangs are balanced with a performance-orientated rig, Park Avenue boom, a high-aspect rudder, and a modern 12-foot draft keel.

Dubbed Project Ouzel, the yacht is being built using cold-molded wood construction but with a carbon mid-section. The interior by Mark Whiteley will support an extensive remote cruising itinerary. According to a press release, the owners plan to use the yacht for exploration cruising as well as coastal voyaging and perhaps competing in a regatta at some point in the future.

“The Project Ouzel team meetings have a high degree of collaboration between engineers, designer, interior architects, and the builder,” said Sam Temple, president at Rockport Marine and a third-generation boatbuilder. “When the clients were choosing a builder, they were focused on Maine boatbuilding, and they have given an opportunity for this unique industry to show the best it has to offer. Maine and, more broadly, the U.S. Northeast contains a confluence of marine tradespeople, allowing elements of work to be shared across multiple shops.”

Construction on the hull of Project Ouzel is well underway, with the provisional delivery date set for July 2025.

“Catastic” survival story

Image courtesy Linda Bean We’ve heard stories about dogs finding their way home through the wilderness. But cats? Not so much. Meet Linda Bean’s cat, Squanto. Squanto, a 3-year-old American shorthair, disappeared during a visit for “vole patrol” in early August 2022 on Little Caldwell Island, off Port Clyde. She was discovered alive and well seven months later by a work crew on Big Caldwell Island. Bean notes that there is a deep gulf between the islands and no bare ground even at a drain tide. Did Squanto swim? No one knows—“Her English is not too clear,” Bean said.

“I don’t know how she got there or what she did to get through the winter,” Bean wrote in a note. “She should be made an honorary graduate of Chewonki and Outward Bound Survival programs. She is an example of true grit in overcoming challenges one day at a time.”

Linda Bean took this selfie with Squanto. Image courtesy Linda Bean Squanto, who has her own email address ( should anyone want to contact her,  is named for the Native American who befriended passengers on the Mayflower back in the 1600s. Bean says she has learned that American shorthairs also were on board the Mayflower. Squanto, the cat, definitely exhibits the hardy survival genes of those first cats who were able to survive a long Atlantic crossing and tough winter near Clark Island in Plymouth, she said.

Bean said that 18 of the passengers on that grueling four-month voyage were her ancestors, including John Clark, after whom Clark Island was later named.

“Thanks to my remarkable kitty, I’m reminded daily and encouraged by that journey of faith and expectation. When challenged, she pressed on, as we all must,” Bean said.

New marine research hub planned

The Quahog Bay Conservancy plans to transform the former Quahog Bay Inn in Harpswell into a “hub of marine research excellence” and revitalize the property’s working waterfront, according to a story in The Anchor, a nonprofit newspaper and website covering the Harpswell community. 

Plans call for building a saltwater laboratory, housing for students and researchers, a “lobster shack” for retail sales of seafood, and a new wharf, the newspaper reported, adding that the lab’s research will focus on microplastics, kelp and oyster aquaculture, and invasive species.

Established in 2015, the conservancy says its mission “is to revitalize the ecosystem of Quahog Bay to a robust and resilient state for all communities that depend on it. Through sustainable aquaculture, ecosystem monitoring, and community education, we aim to conserve natural habitat, protect native wildlife, foster environmental stewards, and support Maine’s working waterfront.”

The project still needs federal and state permits.

The Quahog Bay Inn closed in October 2022.

Shooting stars

Have you noticed fewer starfish along the Maine waterfront? You are not alone. According to a recent article in the Portland Press Herald, starfish, which are actually a marine invertebrate not a fish and are now known as sea stars, are fighting for survival.

Maine’s two common sea star species, the Forbes sea star and the northern sea star, have both been listed as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need,” according to the newspaper report, which quotes a 2016 state report noting that sea stars are “undergoing steep population declines,” which, if unchecked, likely will lead to “local extinction and/or range contraction.”

In addition to warming and increasingly acidic waters in the Gulf of Maine, additional stresses include low oxygen level and a sickness called sea star wasting disease. The disease has caused large-scale die-offs along the West Coast, and seems to be occurring more often along the East Coast, Melina Giakoumis, the associate director of the Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History, told the newspaper.

Sea stars are considered a keystone species; “they have a disproportionately large effect on their community. It’s important to protect them because they help keep other species in check, which increases stability and resilience in the entire ecosystem,” Giakoumis was quoted as saying. 

A move from teaching to selling

Long-time Landing School educator Sean Fawcett has stepped down from his post as president at the southern Maine boatbuilding school, and taken a job as a broker at East Coast Yacht Sales. He started at the school 10 years ago as a yacht design instructor, moved up to director of education and eventually to president. 

“I will forever cherish the experiences and relationships I built at the Landing School, but it is time for another leader to take the reins,” he said.

Portland Harbor dredging project moves ahead

The city of Portland plans to spend $25 million to dredge Portland Harbor, according to a report in Mainebiz. The project has long been considered critical to the future of Portland’s working waterfront. 

Many Portland Harbor piers have not been dredged in more than 70 years and are slowly filling in, reducing available berthing for the working waterfront, Mainebiz reported. Dredging has been delayed because the sediment is polluted, which complicates disposal.

The three-year project has two components—dredging and disposal. It will focus on three overlapping districts of Portland’s waterfront. The project will involve an estimated 244,678 cubic yards of seafloor in a 47-acre area off Portland and South Portland. The work will encompass 47 properties along the waterfront adjacent to private and publicly owned piers and waterfront areas, including 21 piers, 10 marinas and boatyards, the Portland public boat launch and the Portland commercial barge landing, according to Mainebiz.

New fish pier in the works

The town of St. George is close to finishing a nearly decade-long project that should help to preserve what remains of the town’s accessible waterfront, according to a report in the Bangor Daily News. The newly expanded public landing in the village of Port Clyde is expected to nearly double the existing wharf space when it opens in June, the newspaper reported. In addition, the new wharf will be 3 feet above projected sea level rise, and will be built in a way that will allow it to be raised even higher in the future if needed, the town manager told the newspaper. The new wharf was made possible when St. George bought the land adjacent to its original town landing in 2015. Funding has come from the town and federal grants. Plans call for connecting the new landing to the existing landing while also adding 40 parking spaces and public infrastructure such as benches and walkways, according to the BDN.

Roger Hewson was at the helm for Sabre’s 40th anniversary gathering in Boothbay. Photo by Mark Pillsbury Over the bar

Roger Hewson, the founder of Sabre Yachts, passed away late last year. He was a visionary and a pioneer in the sailing industry, founding Sabre Yachts in 1970 with a passion for creating high-quality and innovative sailboats that combined performance, comfort, and style. He was responsible for designing and building thousands of yachts in his career, many of which remain sought-after and on the water today, and he earned numerous awards and recognitions for his work. Hewson was a mentor to many who shared his love for the sea and boatbuilding. He was also a generous man who valued family, supported the boatbuilders at Sabre, and gave to many charitable causes and initiatives in the community. 

He will be missed. 


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