Sam Devlin designs and builds boats on the West Coast, where he was raised on heavy, slow, high-freeboard fishing boats built to work offshore and handle the 4,000-mile fetch from Japan. To his eye, lobster boats—with their low, graceful sheer lines, smaller houses, greater speed and quicker maneuverability—look almost feminine by comparison.
But a longtime friend and collaborator of Devlin’s, a retired boating editor and Maine resident Chris Cornell, is a big fan of the traditional lobster boat. Cornell also likes one of Devlin’s older designs, a fishing boat called Sea Chaser. In that boat, he saw the makings of a pocket lobster boat, so he tried to persuade Devlin to rework the design. At first, Devlin wasn’t keen on the idea, but Cornell persisted. The new design is the North Haven 24, a boat that will look right at home at her namesake island in Maine’s Penobscot Bay.
The North Haven 24 will be constructed with the stitch-and-glue method, using koume marine plywood and epoxy resin to create what Devlin says is “a strong, light, easy-to-maintain and simple-to-repair hull.” The exterior will be sheathed with 6-ounce fiberglass cloth and a layer of Dynel or Xynole polyester cloth set in epoxy. The interior surfaces will be saturated with epoxy resin as well.
Devlin says this method of construction makes the boat stiff, quiet, warm to the touch and—because epoxy-sealed wood floats—essentially unsinkable. He says the North Haven 24 could be painted with single-part paints or two-part linear polyurethanes. If an owner wants to get fancy, he can oil or varnish the trim.
Power comes from a 90- to 150-hp outboard that, according to Devlin, would give the North Haven 24 a cruise speed in the 20- to 25-knot range. With the boat’s shallow draft, he says, it should be excellent for island-hopping.
The open cockpit can handle folding deck chairs, a kayak or two, or a Devlin favorite: a couple of four-legged friends. The North Haven 24 can be outfitted with a cabin heater forward to make it a three-season Northeast boat or a four-season West Coast boat. The semi-enclosed pilothouse and sitting-headroom trunk cabin provide shelter from the weather, especially with drop curtains to fully enclose the pilothouse.
The North Haven 24 is buildable by professionals or amateurs, and is trailerable.
This tough, elegant pocket lobster boat could be at home on any coast, but Devlin says he’d like to one day ease into Stonington Harbor on Deer Isle, Maine, and see a couple of North Haven 24s hanging with their larger cousins. There’s no doubt the North Haven 24 would fit right in.—Pim Van Hemmen