Many years ago, I worked with a writer out of Annapolis, Maryland, who produced a series of stories about his experience cruising the Great Loop with his wife, their young son and their dog. George Sass Sr. shared the details of his family’s 7,500-mile voyage, much to the delight of boat owners and dreamers around the country, who admired Sass for the way he boldly left his house and office behind in order to live and work onboard and underway. His seize-the-day attitude inspired those who understand the joys of cruising and reminded some of us that dreams put off can too often become dreams unrealized.
While stories of the Sass family’s travels aboard Sawdust were great reading, I found myself just as intrigued by the boat they chose for the journey: a Thomas Point 43. Designed by Mike Kaufman of Annapolis, this Downeast-style cruiser combined the best attributes of New England and Chesapeake Bay workboats. And was it ever handsome.
The builder of the boat was Mast & Mallet Boatworks in Edgewater, Maryland. That shop built the semicustom 43 with cedar using the cold-molded method. The result was a hull that could handle the long haul.
Mast & Mallet and Sawdust are back on my radar this month. In the story “Holding Course” writer Wendy Mitman Clarke profiles an entrepreneurial and eclectic group of builders who are hard at work on the Chesapeake Bay today. One of the artisans she talks with is Joe Reid, who founded Mast & Mallet in the 1980s. While Reid acknowledges the satisfaction he felt building that Thomas Point 43 almost two decades ago, he is very much focused on the future. Today, Reid is testing an outboard version of his lovely Chesapeake 22, a design reminiscent of crabbing boats around Maryland’s Smith Island.
Reid, like the other Chesapeake Bay builders in Mitman Clarke’s story, continues to work tenaciously and creatively, producing boats that are built to last, and stir the imagination. I hope you enjoy the story and the opportunity to meet these enterprising craftsmen. These professionals, it seems, also embrace a seize-the-day attitude.
This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue.