The search for 'the perfect boat'

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Hyfield's personal search for a Peapod started at the Maine Boatbuilders Show in Portland, Maine, according to Hyfield's blog (http://hyfieldpeapod-maine peapods.blogspot.com).

After a fruitless booth-to-booth search, Hyfield received the best advice a Peapod hopeful can get. Here is an excerpt.

If Hyfield's Peapod looks familiar it's because his photo, 'No Better Way to Spend the Day' was the second-place willer in our Real Boats, Real Boaters photo contest. Share your own on-the-water photos at www.flickr.com/groups/soundings.

Thomas J. Hill a boatbuilder and designer from Burlington, Vt., stopped by. I mentioned to him my search for a used Peapod and he said, "You have to go to Brooklin, Maine."

I said, "What ... you just go to Brooklin and get out of the car?"

Hill said, "That should work."

I envisioned that in Brooklin in every other house's front yard contained a Peapod for sale. The trip up was great and my wife Marie and I rolled into town close to lunchtime.

In typical tourist fashion, I strolled into the general store. It had uneven time-worn floors, a small counter on the left near the cash register with three stools and a bank of coolers on the right with soda and beer.

We started talking to the woman seated next to us. I told her of my quest for a Peapod, and she said, "You've got to go down to the Brooklin Boat Yard, then visit Jimmy Steele."

The plan was to scout around some on Friday and hit the rest of the builders on Saturday. Our lunch friend informed us that the boatyard and builder's shops are closed on Saturdays. Boatyards closed on Saturdays in the springtime was a new one for me. If a Connecticut boatyard tried that, the owner would be swinging from the nearest travel lift.

The first stop, Brooklin Boat Yard, is located in an idyllic setting on Center Harbor on Eggemoggin Reach, home to some of the best cruising Maine has to offer. I parked the car and wandered into the yard.

I asked one of the yard workers if he knew of any used Peapods for sale. He sent us to the office to talk to Frank Hull, vice president of the yard. He had some Peapods in the small-boat shed; the owners paid storage and rarely used their boats. Frank gave me the owners' phone numbers and said, "Give it a shot, you never know."

He walked us over to the shed located on a pier. It was filled with Beetle Cats and a few Peapods. One boat with a varnished mahogany sheer, varnished thwarts and gunwales caught my eye. The gray-painted interior, with the exception of years of bird droppings looked to be in good shape as did the hull. Frank said it was built by Jimmy Steele in town.

To my surprise, the owner returned my call. I peppered him with a list of questions: Does it have a trailer? Does it have oars and oarlocks? Does it have a name? He said, "Give me a couple of days to think about it."

I went back to work on Monday and researched Peapods on the Internet. There wasn't much out there and I got more depressed.

Then my wife said that she received a message from Matt Camp. I called immediately. He said, "I've decided to sell you the boat."

My smile almost split my face.

"SOLD!" I wrote the check May 2. The deal was done; she was mine at last. I named her Thistle because she was the tender to Matt's grandmother's boat Thistledown. The name honors my Scottish lineage.

I now owned the perfect boat.

See related article:

- Father and son capture 'Peapod moments'

This article originally appeared in the New England Home Waters Section of the March 2010 issue.