Skip to main content

It’s the hull shape that sets it apart

Boatbuilding in the Lowell family goes back to 19th century Nova Scotia through six consecutive generations of captains, fishermen and merchant mariners. “We went from square riggers to lobster boats,” says Jamie Lowell, who along with his younger brother Joe took over the business when their father, Carroll Lowell, died in 1997. Their great-grandfather, Will Frost, built the family’s first powerboat in 1901, when the fishing world was shifting from sailing vessels.

Old School and New School: The hull is built-down with composite materials.

Today, the Lowell shop focuses on lobster boats for both commercial and recreational use. John St. Hilaire’s 38-footer, Thorobred, is a new entry in the Lowell logbook, and Jamie clearly takes pride in it.

Here is his take on the boat, in his own words:

The shape of the hull is what really makes the boat stand out, with its high bow, turn-up in transom, its flare, stem line. I think it’s very beautiful. The curved deadrise ranges from about 55 degrees at the bow to 10 degrees at the transom. The hull, deck and bulkhead are cored with 1-inch Core-Cell A550 foam.

When it came to molds for the cabin, we wanted one that worked for both commercial and recreational — one mold that worked for either incarnation. The cabin was extended so that the boat is essentially divided into thirds: foredeck, cabin and aft deck. The cabin came out of the molds at 750 to 800 pounds. A lot of fairing went into the cabin.

One of the unique characteristics of that boat is that the whole cockpit seems like one piece, from the cabin down to the rails. The trunk cabin has a nice radius, as do the corner posts and outer edges of the cabin.

We premolded all of the hatches onto our layup table, then laid the deck up over them, so we had a positive fit the whole way around.

We paid a lot of attention to weight throughout the project. We didn’t put a big, heavy visor on it. We actually built a mold onto the cabin itself. We laid up the component for the visor, took it off, faired it up, primed it, glued it back on and faired it back into the cabin. In the end, the visor itself is quite flexible, but it’s strong, and it’s only about 1/8 of an inch thick.

When John decided he wanted a tree [mast] for mounting the radar dome, we faced the challenge of designing around bolting the unit through the carbon-fiber roof. The solution was to contract out to a company [Nautilus Marine Fabrication] that used computer-aided design to draw the tree, then a CNC lathe to cut it out of G10 material, a laminate consisting of a filament glass cloth with epoxy resin known for its high strength and light weight.

When it came to the console, we built a mockup for John in the shop, and it evolved with additional material, adjusting the electronics and a tapered base for the throttle control head.

For the woodwork, we used teak for the rail, exterior woodwork and doors on the back of the cabin; teak and holly for the floors; mahogany for the pilothouse doors; and the cedar down below is hand-matched and quarter-sawn.

The boat originally wasn’t supposed to have recessed lights, a headliner or mahogany console. A lot of this was improvised after the fact — on demand, figuring it out — whereas usually a project is all planned ahead.

The valance on the saloon sides has hidden LED strip lights on mahogany ceiling strips designed to look like beams on a wooden boat. We didn’t want unsightly butt joints, so the strips that run port to starboard are notched into the carlings. We used what we call donuts that surround the lights and fit over the strips to cover those joints.


LOA: 38 feet, 9 inches

LWL: 36 feet, 6 inches

BEAM: 13 feet, 1 inch

DRAFT: 4 feet

ENGINE: 800-hp MAN R6800 diesel

LOADED WEIGHT: 22,000 pounds

CONTACT: Lowell Brothers/Even Keel Marine Specialties, Yarmouth, Maine

(207) 846-4878

See related article:

- A worthy steed

December 2013 issue