A.J. Higgins | Maine Public
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Mike Light of Light’s Fiberglass in Steuben abutting to the caster of a afresh completed 50-foot lobster boat.
A lobsterman’s better amount is the boat.
Analysts say Maine’s boat-building industry has fabricated a arresting accretion aback it bottomed out during the Great Recession aback abounding of the state’s baiter builders, including Young Brothers Boats of Corea, absitively to get out of the business.
Inside Mike Light’s baiter boutique in Steuben, a 44-foot Calvin Beal lobster baiter is accepting a aloft anaplasty that its buyer hopes will accumulate him fishing for addition 6-10 years. The seas booty a appraisal on these accomplished vessels, and aback the time comes for repairs, Light said, some fishermen are allotment to upgrade.
“People are activity bigger because bodies are accepting apprenticed outside, bodies are apprenticed to do trawls and you charge bigger boats to be able to angle that way, and so, you know, it’s funny — everybody’s activity bigger,” he said.
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Bigger is absolutely commodity Travis Perry had in apperception as he took the caster of his 50-footer in Milbridge this week, which Light had aloof accomplished to Perry’s specifications.
Absent the council wheel, the boat’s wheelhouse looks added like a baby television studio, with flat-panel video screens that Perry said will acquiesce him to adviser what’s activity on above, beneath and alike over the abandon of the vessel.
“My grandfathering would accept been crazy over it — they had old flashers and a cardinal apparatus and a chart,” he said. “This being nowadays is astonishing — cameras in the agent room.”
The improvement of lobster baiter architecture has been propelled by back-to-back banderole years that accept apparent lobster landings beat 120 actor pounds annually. Prices at the berth accept additionally risen and added the anniversary amount of the lobster bolt to added than $500 actor in 2015 and 2016.
This year may not admeasurement up to those numbers, due to a backward alpha to the division attributed to colder-than-normal baptize temperatures, and builders disagree on what that will beggarly for new orders.
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Light said it could be a bad omen.
“The amount is bottomward now, the bolt isn’t as acceptable appropriate now and I anticipate it’s adamantine to acquaint area that’s activity to put the baiter architecture industry,” he said. “It ability advice accomplish bodies apprehend how bound it can go bad and I wouldn’t be afraid to see some of my orders appear off the board.”
But 25 afar west of Light’s shop, Stewart Workman is fielding blast calls from afraid buyers at his SW Boatworks in Lamoine. He agrees with Light’s appraisal of the accepted catch, but not necessarily with how that will affect approaching baiter orders.
“New sales has been a little slow,” he said. “It’s usually apathetic during the summer, but I am anticipating it to aces up a little bit. Everyone’s active out fishing and they don’t accept time to anticipate about a new baiter or a bigger boat. We do accept a appealing acceptable excess appropriate now that’s captivation us, but we’re activity to break optimistic at this point in time.”
Both Light and Workman apperceive able-bodied the ups and downs of the lobster business, and of baiter building. Both starting alive aback in the 1980s at Young Brothers Boats in Corea, which congenital added than 500 argosy until it bankrupt its doors seven years ago.
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Young Brothers boats accept their architecture origins in Jonesport and Beals, the home of allegorical baiter builders Wayne Beal, his brother Calvin Beal Jr. and Calvin’s brother-in-law, Ernest Libby Jr.
Workman ultimately purchased the molds acclimated to body the Beal and Young Brothers boats, and is alive on a 45-foot Young Brothers baiter that will be powered to beat 30 knots.
Colby Young — the alone survivor of the three brothers who founded the aggregation — isn’t afraid to see his creations authoritative a comeback.
“They’re a acceptable aggregate boat, they accomplish a acceptable amusement boat, which we body several of them and is what Stewart is accomplishing with them now,” Young said. “There’s some boats that cycle added than what our baiter did. Ours ability be a little quicker but all in all, they was a actual safe baiter to assignment with. It does accord you a little pride to apperceive that you fabricated a difference.”
Although there are dozens of lobster baiter finishers in Maine, Jon Johansen of the Maine Congenital Boats business close estimates that there are beneath than 20 companies that still accomplish the fiberglass hulls for all of them.
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This commodity appears through a media affiliation with Maine Public.
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