‘The best Maine has to offer’ on display

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The third annual Maine Boats and Harbors Show attracted a record number of exhibitors, visitors

The third annual Maine Boats and Harbors Show attracted a record number of exhibitors, visitors

Jake, Great Island Yacht Brokerage’s black Lab, triumphed over five other competitors Aug. 14 to become World Championship Boatyard Dog during the third annual Maine Boats and Harbors Show on the Rockland, Maine, waterfront.

The three-day festival “shows off everything we love about life on the coast of Maine,” says John K. Hanson Jr., show organizer and publisher of Maine Boats and Harbors magazine. “In one weekend guests can see the very best Maine has to offer.”

More than 100 boatbuilders displayed 80-some boats in the water and almost 60 on land. Vessels ranged from exquisitely crafted canoes to impressive 50-plus-foot power and sailing yachts. The combined value of several luxury yachts approached $100 million. Many boats were Maine-built, but builders from Nova Scotia, Chesapeake Bay area and elsewhere in New England were represented.

Rockland’s Harbor Park resembled a

3-D version of the magazine. On the three shoreside acres, tent after tent displayed fine art, crafts, nautical antiques, architecture, maritime books, furniture, nature, environmental education exhibits and all the equipment needed to enjoy and care for boats (from insurance to clothing to electronics). One tent featured live music. Kids could examine local marine creatures in the touch tank and sail model boats in the model pond. Offerings from the food vendors went far beyond lobster rolls and fried clams.

On the docks visitors eagerly shucked their shoes to board the 76-foot composite sloop Goshawk (a collaboration between Rockport Marine of Rockport, Maine, and Brooklin Boatyard of Brooklin, Maine). Also big draws were the 52-foot and 46-foot Sparkman & Stephens sloops from Lyman Morse Company of Thomaston, Maine, among other yachts. High-end vessels featured intricate interiors, cherry- and birch-inlaid woodwork, galleys with granite countertops, and state-of-the-art navigation stations.

Style and varnish predominated among the numerous express cruisers and lobsterboat yachts. However, Turtle Head Boat Yard’s representative urged boarding visitors to “Keep your shoes on. This is a Maine boat.”

One visitor extolled the virtues of his Duffy 26 while eyeing a larger Duffy exhibited by Atlantic Boat Company of Brooklin, Maine. “That would be a fun boat,” he said. “Enough fishing space, a place to sleep overnight, and that’s about all.”

While most visitors just admired the yachts, some show-goers placed orders with Redfern Boats (of Lamoine, Maine), Hunt Yachts (of Massachusetts) or other firms.

An Optimist pram regatta, a parade of Maine Windjammers and ongoing demonstrations of small rowing, paddling and sailing vessels kept the waterfront lively throughout the weekend.

On the final day, the dogs stole the show as they negotiated a dockside obstacle course, hopped between dock and a tippy dinghy, fetched a stick and performed a freestyle event. As usual, the contest rules (1. The dog, its handler or both, must finish soaking wet; and 2. Cheating is not only tolerated but encouraged) were followed to a T, delighting the shore-side audience.

Jake’s handler, Barbara Hart, says living aboard their 47-foot Cheoy Lee sailboat helped Jake perfect his skills. His ability to catch a line and pull a dinghy ashore wowed the judges during the runoff with Soldado, a Puerto Rican Culebrense.

Jake, “the Black Vac,” is well-known at Great Island Boatyard of Hampden, Maine, for stealing and enjoying unauthorized lunches, entertaining children while their parents discuss a boat purchase, and overseeing boatyard activities from the boatshed roof.

Some 12,000 visitors, including Maine’s Governor John Baldacci, attended the Maine Boats and Harbors Show, enjoying the perfect summer weather and vibrant nautical ambience. Gov. Baldacci addressed industry representatives, praising local boatbuilders and their newly formed organization, Maine Built Boats. The state-supported organization will help market Maine-built boats domestically and internationally. “You have a good, strong [boatbuilding] industry here,” he said as he stepped off the sloop Goshawk.

The show featured 325 exhibitors and drew 2,000 more visitors than in previous years. Exhibitors consider the event a success, with several signing contracts for new boats, furniture and artwork.

Next year’s Maine Boats and Harbors Show will take place in August on the Rockland waterfront. It’ll be the place to be, says Hanson.