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Small craft grab attention at Maine show

Crowd enjoys the ‘restrained elegance’ of boats displayed at the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show

Boats, boats and more boats — almost 100 of them — drew nearly 9,000 people to the seventh annual Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show Aug. 7-9 in Rockland, Maine.

Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding Co.'s 54-foot twin jet Express Cruiser was one of the larger boats on display.

Powerboats from outboards to Lyman Morse Boatbuilding Co.’s 54-foot express cruiser, a handful of luxury sailboats and dozens of smaller powerboats filled 2,200 feet of dock. Equally varied paddle-, oar- and engine-powered small craft were displayed shoreside at the show, sponsored by Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors magazine.

“Restrained elegance” was evident in the woodwork and inlays — the gleam of varnish, brass and chrome characterized most vessels, requiring “shoes off, please,” for those boarding. Down East lines and traditional topsides were the norm among the picnic launches, 40- to 54-foot express cruisers and luxury sailing yachts. One exception was Bill Tripp’s 65-foot, high-performance sloop built of carbon/ kevlar/cedar by Hodgdon Yachts of East Boothbay, Maine.

Throughout the show, underbodies, rigs and interiors were of cutting-edge designs and materials, exemplifying the show’s theme, Tradition Shapes Innovation.

Serious buyers and tire-kickers alike milled aboard the largest yachts, which often featured granite galley countertops, flat-screen televisions, spacious nav stations and staterooms with glass-door showers. The 52-foot Hunt and the 54-foot Lyman-Morse motoryachts stored their dinghies in stern garages.

Bud Woodworth, 67, of Oyster Bay, N.Y., who cruised here with his wife, Gail, in their Offshore 44, like most visitors, came to see the boats. “The boats are smaller than they were four years ago, but the quality has increased,” he says. “The craftsmanship of a Hinckley, Lyman Morse, Morris or French and Webb yacht is absolutely stunning.”

The economy is causing changes. Show-goers questioned fuel efficiency. Though sales were made, a Redfern Boats representative says buyers ordered smaller models this year. The “Build Green Maine” tent drew crowds to see its energy-efficient home design and building, retro-fitting, weatherizing, solar power, wind generation and other renewable energy products.

“A wicked good show,” says John Hanson, publisher of Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors magazine, “displaying such creative energy on these four acres.”

This article originally appeared in the New England Home Waters Section of the October 2009 issue.