...to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free....

10 October, 2011

downeast to down under!

 My friend Pete is a boat builder.
Not just any old boat builder.  He builds fine lobster boats.
Some are built to be working boats,
Others are built to be yachts, keeping the Maine lobster boat design.
He is an artist, an expert craftsman,
and a smart and gentle man.

 Pete and his crew have built dozens of these boats since 1983.
They are made of wood, not fiberglass.
In his small-ish boat house in South Bristol, Maine,
miracles happen.

For the past year or so, Pete and his crew have been 
designing and building a "lobster yacht"
for Will and Sally, who live in Australia.
They found Pete in Maine at a boat show,
and their collective adventure began.

Two weekends ago, the Benito was launched,
and I had the pleasure of being there.

It was a Maine-postcard foggy day.
A little bit of mist, and a whole lot of well-wishers
to watch the Benito take her first bath in the ocean.
After ten kinds of donuts, coffee, cider and other delicacies,
we all went outside to watch the launch.

Here are some photos from the day.

We all had a chance to go aboard (see left) before the Benito was launched.

You can best see the underside from the stern end of the boat.
See the wooden frame that holds the boat off the ground?
That's called a cradle.

Here's the cradle from the side.

The wheel in the wheel house, and assorted electronic gadgets.

The outside wheel, if you want to be in the salt air.

I had to see where the cooking was going to take place.
There are beds, and polished teak, and a bathroom--
all the comforts of home-on-the-sea.
I was in awe.  

Then came the christening.
Below is Sally, swinging the Champagne bottle for all she is worth.

There is Will as the bottle breaks and Sally grins.

Then, as if by magic, the boat begins to slide down the rails,

Taking her cradle with her.

Here she is, her first minute on the water.

See the round things on the windshield?
Some kind of centrifugal force gizmo that cleans the windshield
in the spray and rain.

Isn't she beautiful?

The Benito.  She is well on her way to Maryland,
where she will be wrapped up tight,
put on a ship, and carried to Australia.

It's coming into summer there. 
...And Pete has another boat to build.


  1. Wow-beautiful story of this boat and its launch!!

  2. Oh, this is wonderful. I can only imagine the excitement of the launch and the beauty of the Benito up close. She is beautiful, indeed.

  3. Wow gorgeous gorgeous boat and I got a little excited when I saw Sorrento on the stern until you told us it was destined for Australia! Great post Mike, wonderful capture of the launch/christening! ~Lili

  4. I am so happy to see these photos. I miss you all so much. Pete and his wife do such good work. I would travel from Australia too just to buy one of his boats if I were in the market.

  5. Benito arrived in Melbourne last week and is now at home, 35 miles further south in Sorrento, where she is turning heads. Pete and his wonderful crew have done an outstanding job.
    This boat has a long pedigree as a working craft, and is built of Maine Cedar on White American Oak.
    Benito is not a yacht, but a beautiful fishing boat.
    She is going to have an adventurous life in Victoria and Tasmania, accessing some wild and remote places.
    There will be lobsters to catch as well a Barracouta and Trumpeter. There will be lots of fish scales over her deck.
    There will always be a piece of Maine in the hearts of the grateful owners, Will and Sally and their kids.