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Local Waters September 2011

Postcard: WoodenBoat Show
By Craig S. Milner
Comfortable weather and a good turnout marked the 20th anniversary edition of the WoodenBoat Show, held June 24-26 on the grounds of Mystic Seaport in southeastern Connecticut.
The first WoodenBoat Show was held at Newport, R.I., and through the years its ports of call have included Southwest Harbor and Rockland, Maine; Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md.; and the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven. The show has been at Mystic for the last five years.

A Portuguese water dog stands guard over a framed hull displayed by The Apprenticeshop at this summer's WoodenBoat Show.

Attendance was about 13,500, “up significantly from last year,” according to show director Michele Corbeil, who says the number of in-water boats (about 50) and land/booth exhibitors (about 150) has remained consistent since the show began.

Saturday night’s dinner celebrated the life and work of Lance Lee, “educator, boatbuilder, international visionary and preserver of traditional boat designs.” Since he founded The Apprenticeshop in 1972, Lee has been active in experiential education, including more than 10 years with Outward Bound as an instructor, consultant and site developer. In 1986, he co-founded the Atlantic Challenge, an international seamanship competition.

A popular feature of the show is on-site boatbuilding, in which teams of family and friends build boats from kits during the show. This year, 26 boats were built and launched, including Sassafras 16-foot canoes from Chesapeake Light Craft, Chuckanut 15-foot kayaks by Gentry Custom Boats, and Echo Bay Dory Skiffs designed by Maine boatbuilder Alec Brainerd of Artisan Boatworks.
Brainerd had two models on display, a newly built Herreshoff Buzzards Bay 15 and, for the first time, a Herreshoff Fish Class, which is a new model for the yard.
Awards for the best of show and Concours d’Elegance will be announced in the September/October issue of WoodenBoat magazine and on the magazine’s website. Next year’s show will be held May 29 to June 1 — again at Mystic Seaport.

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Tybee Island Light Station

Ordered by the governor of the 13th colony in 1732, Tybee Island Light Station in Georgia has guided mariners into the Savannah River for nearly 280 years. The station, rebuilt several times, displays its 1916 daymark, with a 9-foot-tall First Order Fresnel lens.

Owner plans rebirth for Miami boatyard
The 125-year-old Merrill-Stevens Drydock Co. is back in business under a new name, Marlow Merrill Stevens, with a new owner, boatbuilder David Marlow, who plans a renaissance for the historic yard on the Miami River.
“This is an iconic dowager that needs to be put back in shape,” says Marlow, 67, chairman of Palmetto, Fla.-based Marlow Yachts, which builds a variety of boats, from expedition yachts and express cruisers to tenders and dinghies.
Marlow owns a service yard in Palmetto and builds at Norsemen-Marlow Shipyard in Xiamen, China. He bought Merrill-Stevens in June for a reported $6.6 million from the Coconut Grove Bank, which had held the mortgage on the 5.6-acre property and took title to it in February.
Previous owners Hugh and Carole Shields Westbrook, yacht owners themselves and the founders of Vitas Healthcare Corp., bought the yard from the Merrill family in 2004 for $10 million. They had planned to offer a full menu of megayacht services — charter and management, brokerage, crew placement and regulatory consultation — and upgrade the yard to service yachts to 250 feet. That plan foundered when the recession hit.

Simrad expands product line with emphasis on versatility
Marine electronics manufacturer Simrad Yachting hosted an on-board press event in June on Boston Harbor to promote its newest products, which it says are tailored for versatility in response to consumer focus groups. One result is a simpler, more intuitive touch screen/rotary knob multifunction unit.
Geared to the 25- to 40-foot market, the NSS Sport is a base unit GPS/plotter that can be expanded with sounder, radar, autopilot and video entertainment features. Its LED backlighting is touted for its energy efficiency. The company says it also is reacting to the economy with price points of $1,895, $2,845 and $3,995 for the 7-, 8- and 12-inch models, respectively.
Simrad also promoted its new Broadband 3G radar, the next generation of its BR24 frequency modulated continuous wave radome. The company says the new unit delivers two times greater RF transmit power and 30 percent more range and target detection than the BR24.

Newport boat show returns in September
Newport, R.I.
The annual Newport International Boat Show, which organizers call one of the four largest in-water boat shows in the country, returns Sept. 15-18 to the Rhode Island waterfront. Organizers expect about 750 exhibitors displaying more than 600 boats from 16 to 100 feet, plus kayaks, inflatables, services, equipment and accessories.
Information is available at

Elf Classic Yacht Race debuts on Chesapeake Bay
Annapolis-St. Michaels, Md.
The inaugural Elf Classic Yacht Race was met with light winds and enthusiastic sailors as 15 classic sailing yachts sailed Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis to St. Michaels, Md. The event was organized by the Classic Yacht Restoration Guild, and proceeds benefited the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.
The May 21 event featured the nautical version of a Le Mans start, in which yacht captains row to their vessels, raise their anchors and sails, and get under way. The event began at the Eastport Yacht Club.
Elf is a 35-foot (LOD) 1888 Lawley-built gaff topsail cutter. After a busy career as a racing yacht, Elf pioneered offshore cruising in 1893 by being the first small boat to successfully cruise round-trip from Marblehead, Mass., to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Recently restored, she home-ports along Navy Point at the maritime museum as its flagship.

Elf, a 58-foot Lawley, is the namesake of the Elf Classic Yacht Race.

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue.