Lee S. Wilbur of Southwest Harbor, Maine, launched his first boat—a 36-foot fiberglass sportfish—in 1973 based on a hull designed by Raymond Bunker. For the next 30 years, his yard’s reputation grew exponentially thanks to loyal clients and a group of skilled shipwrights who painstakingly hand-built each boat with the sea going knowledge of Maine craftsmen. Although Wilbur retired in 2001, he sold the business to his daughter Ingrid and son-in-law John E. Kachmar. Today, the couple operates the facility, which has built more than 200 boats to date from 29 to 61 feet.
The Wilbur 61 is the flagship of the fleet and combines traditional Maine workmanship and modern technology with a Hunt-designed hull. Three 61s have been built to date, launching in 1986, 1988 and 1994. (Tumblehome, shown here, debuted in 1994.) The deep-V hull is solid fiberglass. Typically, the painted superstructure is a composite matrix of hand-laid fiberglass and end grain balsa, but Tumblehome’s has varnished teak per the owner’s request. Even with its approximate displacement of 75,000 pounds, the boat cruises at 16 knots with a pair of C18 Caterpillars and produces a few extra knots at top end. A 1,000-gallon fuel supply in two self-leveling tanks provides ample range and inherent stability in a seaway.
Wilbur’s are known for huskiness. Tumblehome’s 17-foot beam provides plenty of teak-planked deck space, with a wide and deep walkaround featuring tall stanchions for safety, as well as interior volume for roomy accommodations. The master suite, one of three staterooms, has a private entrance from the aft deck. The salon has an L-shape settee with dining for six and full galley. The lower helm has a side door for quick deck access. A teak and holly sole, plus warm teak treatments throughout the interior, are signature features of a Wilbur. Equally notable is the flybridge, as the wings extend outward to the width of the deckhouse to maximize usable space for the upper helm station and seating for guests.
A truly self-sufficient yacht for all seasons, the Wilbur 61 is a unique build and an 18-month, 24,000-man-hour project from start to launch.
This article was originally published in the October 2021 issue.