It’s a sunny October day, and Paul Dobbins is getting a bit of a late start setting out his seaweed lines. He has been monitoring the water temperature at his lease site, in sheltered ocean water off southern Maine, and it has finally dropped to optimal conditions. Tomorrow he will start setting out thousands of feet of line seeded with millions of tiny sugar kelps, a type of edible seaweed — or sea vegetable, as many prefer to call it — native to Maine.
There aren’t many people who reach the top of one profession and then attain the pinnacle of a second one. But Onne van der Wal, though he is affable and modest, is also a talented overachiever.
The drive to Boothbay Harbor, Maine — 10 miles down a peninsula and past the rocky islets wonderfully named The Cuckolds — terminates in a narrow network of lanes paralleling the undulating shore.
Ross Gannon and Nat Benjamin met on Martha’s Vineyard in the 1970s. Gannon (far left), an engineer by training, was building houses from salvaged timber. Benjamin, after kicking around the Caribbean and Med with his family on his boat, was working at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. Their paths overlapped, and a friendship sprang up, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the two decided to open a yard together.
Among those who’d been drawn to Raymond Hunt’s little waterfront office in Marblehead, Massachusetts, was a Canadian-born inventor named Albert Hickman. During the prewar period, Hickman, an 1899 graduate of Harvard and onetime provincial governor of New Brunswick, had set aside a writing career to develop what he would call the “Sea Sled.” The boat’s twin hulls funneled air beneath them to, as was said, “ride on air.” High-speed seaworthiness with relatively modest horsepower was the result.
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