As spring arrives and the pandemic recedes in the rearview mirror it seems to be leaving behind two unwanted souvenirs: supply chain problems and price inflation. Add the chronic manpower shortage and our industry is facing unprecedented challenges. But spring is in the air, and the commissioning season is about to start. Spring boat shows are starting and the outlook for the summer season is good, so let’s concentrate on the good news.

boatshop reports
Rainy weather has temporarily halted repairs to this Tiara at Osprey Marine Composites in Tracy’s Landing, MD. Photo by Rick Franke

David Low of Herrington Harbour North gives us a glimpse of some of the hard work done to prepare for the spring rush. “Herrington Harbour North is in high gear with our advance preparations for the spring. ‘I’ dock is in the final stages of installing new composite decking and dock lighting. The yard has added a much larger forklift along with another crane due to the increase in the number of boat repowering projects and to deal with the larger sailboat masts. Marine Travel Lift has done the annual service on all five travel lifts to ensure a smooth launching season. With over 400 bottom painting projects scheduled, crews have already begun to prep bottoms so that when the warmer weather arrives, we are ready to paint. Special seminars for our slip holders are scheduled for diesel service, docking, cruising the mid Bay, and then on March 19 they can take a break and burn their socks! We are working closely with MTAM and DNR to ensure that the shrink wrap removed from over 300 boats is disposed of and recycled properly. We are all looking forward to providing a memorable boating experience to our many customers by being ready for the 2022 yachting season!”

boatshop reports
The calm before the storm. Three of Herrington Harbour North’s five travel lifts quietly await the start of the spring launching frenzy in Tracy’s Landing, MD. Photo by Rick Franke

The latest report from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s shipyard in St Michaels, MD: “Staff from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s working shipyard are excited to report that progress on Maryland Dove has continued at a rapid pace. The ship’s main and quarter decks have now been decked in solid, old-growth Douglas fir (two and a quarter-inch thick, clear vertical grain to be exact).

Meanwhile, the planking crew has focused on steaming and installing cedar planking along the bulwarks. With planking completed, an angelique cap rail will add the finishing touches to the deck and the Osage orange chicken beak (or gammon piece) and gammon knee have been put in place and are awaiting the final fitting and installation of the bowsprit. In addition to work on the deck, shipwrights are accomplishing work below deck to create the cabin soles and respective framing for the head and galley. Electrical, bilge, and fire suppression systems are also being installed.

boatshop reports
Lead Rigger Sam Hiltgartner works on the spars for the Maryland Dove in his shop at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St Michaels, MD. Photo by George Sass 

Meanwhile, in the rigging shop, staff members are dressing the spars with a plethora of hand-crafted cleats and final touches. This process includes adding coats of varnish, weaving sword mats, steam bending hanks, and fitting some of the smaller sails. 

To learn more about the construction of Maryland Dove, a reproduction of the vessel that accompanied the first European settlers to Maryland in 1634 that is owned by the state of Maryland and operated by Historic St. Mary’s City, visit” Stay tuned for details on the launch in next month's column.

Vaughn Fountain from Diversified Services in Annapolis, MD, reports on a fuel tank removal and replacement their restoration team completed on an Ocean 48. “This was just a simple fuel tank replacement. It made more sense to pull the tank out through the hull side. It was less disturbance to the vessel/structure.”

boatshop reports
The leaking fuel tank being removed from an Ocean 48 at Diversified Marine Services in Annapolis, MD. 

Mark Wilkinson from the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, MD, reports that the lighthouse keeper’s boat being built by the volunteer Small Craft Guild at the museum is coming along more or less on schedule. The molds are all in place and secured by a strongback, and a temporary sheer clamp is in place. Next come the steam bent frames and then the planking. 

boatshop reports
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Boat is taking shape in the Small Craft Shop at Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, MD. 

Rob Hardy of Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD, comments on the changes in his operation since their acquisition of the adjacent marina. “Since we paired up with the marina here (Ferry Point), we do not do any repairs, reconstruction, or restorations here at Composite. We are concentrating on new construction only. The new CY 55 is in the water, and we are still doing some testing and adjusting. There are a lot of small things to look at with a brand-new design, but she looks really good so far. When the weather gets better, we’ll do her official sea trial and make the grand announcement of her launching.

boatshop reports
The CY 55 in the water for the first time. She floats right on her designed lines at Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD. 

We’ve got two CY 46s under construction, a CY 34 under construction, and a CY 32 nearly complete as well. The CY 55 and the CY 32 are getting a spring delivery. The CY 34 is our walk around, offshore, express boat that we will be finishing off as a spec boat, so she will be available for sale if someone wants to buy her. We had people coming in and doing faux teak finishing on transoms, washboards, and toe rails, things like that. That was exciting to watch. Those people are incredible to watch. The end product is astonishing. I’d say 95 percent of the people out there couldn’t say if it was real teak or not; it’s amazing. 

boatshop reports
Hull number 50, a CY 46 to be powered by a Caterpillar C-18, emerges from the mold at Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD. 

We’ve been building some fiberglass folding radar cabinets for Metalshark boats on contract for the government. We’ve got a 48 Viking in the shed. We are doing a mezzanine refit on that boat. That involves removing the large gear lockers and replacing them with comfortable seating against the after bulkhead. We’ve been doing one or two of those every year. I think we’re busier than we’ve ever been, but manpower issues and supply chain problems and price increases make it a challenge. Just before I called you, I got an email from one of our suppliers that there has been a price increase on material that we’ve already ordered. It’s problematic; everyone’s having to deal with it.”

Jim Weaver at Weaver Boat Works reports a busy winter in his shops. The shop in Deale, MD, has a Weaver 64 under construction that started in December of 2020. Also in that location is a Weaver 70 that started construction in January of this year. Across Rockhold Creek at the Herrington Harbour North facility in Tracys Landing, MD, is another Weaver 64 that began construction in August of 2020. Plans call for a Weaver 43 to commence construction soon.

boatshop reports
A Weaver Boat Works crew works on a Weaver 70 in the shop at Deale, MD. Photo by Rick Franke

David Jr. from Evans Boat repair in Crisfield, MD, checks in with a newsy report. “Winter has been busy; we’ve been slammed in the yard. We are finishing up on a custom 50-foot build, and we are wrapping up a custom 36-foot build. We are also working on several cabin and deck refurbishes; new cabins being built. A lot of workboat refurbishing is going on right now. It’s time for these guys to get their boats ready to work on this year. We are still having trouble getting supplies. If we can get them, they are through the roof on pricing. We’ve had to increase our prices here at the yard significantly just to be able to do what we’ve got to do around here. We should have gone higher, but there comes a time when you can’t do that to your customer. We’re getting ready for the spring. We are ready to do our boat moving. All our trailers are ready and we are getting ready to do it.” 

Buster Phipps of Phipps Boat Works in Deale, MD, has a Beneteau Swift Trawler 30 in his big shop for a replacement of her teak decking. The job is a warranty repair for Beneteau dealer Clarks Landing. In the smaller woodworking shop, Buster’s crew has the jigs and bow and stern in place for a 12-foot pram.

boatshop reports
A Beneteau Swift Trawler 30 in the big shop at Phipps Boat Works in Deale, MD, is having her teak decking replaced. Photo by Rick Franke

So, area boatshops are alive and well, busier than ever, and ready for a great spring and summer. Get out on the water, be safe, and enjoy the return of the boating season!    
By Capt. Rick Franke