If there's one thing I look forward to every year, it's my annual trip to Brooklin, Maine. Brooklin bills itself as the wooden boat building capital of the world, and while there may be some poetic license in there, it's not a wild exaggeration. It is home to that justly famous incubator and enabler of wooden boat fanatics, the WoodenBoat School. Joel White's famed Brooklin Boatyard, now run by his son Steven, is here as well. But there are many other builders in this region, working in wood and fiberglass, including D.N. Hylan & Associates, Wilbur, Ellis, Hinckley, Brion Reiff, Calvin Beal, Young Brothers, Lowell Brothers and the Atlantic Boat Co., builders of Duffy and BHM - to name just a few! (How's a boat lover not going to fall in love with this part of the world?)
I spent some time with a few smaller builders this year and was struck by their attitudes. It's not a secret that their shops are quiet. There are empty desks, wide-open work bays, idle tools and dusty order books. Everyone sees signs of the economy improving. but nothing tangible has trickled down yet.