About Heritage Boatworks

About the Podcast

I was lying in bed with my wife one night about 4 years ago.  I had just started building my first boat; a 10 foot wooden skiff designed by Phil Bolger.  I spoke at length, explaining the finer details of the building process and where I was a little confused by it.  I had acquired the plans from Harold “Dynamite” Payson and had looked them over so many times that I had them just about memorized.  I was enthralled by the thought of building my own boat and I was in need of a dinghy for my mooring since my over-patched, inflatable Zodiac had sprung its last leak.

 As I was speaking, my wife slowly started to roll over.  I watched her in anticipation as if in slow motion. I figured she was going to roll over to tell me how impressed she was with my multiple talents and maybe ask me if she could help.  Maybe she was going to tell me how excited she was for me and that I should go buy some more great tools for my shop.  Hell, maybe she was rolling over to tell me that all this boat talk turned her on!  Maybe….just maybe!   She completed her slow-motion rollover and her pretty hair flopped onto her face.  She let out a soft groan and nuzzled her head deeper into the pillow.  She was sound asleep and from the looks of it, had been in that state for quite some time.

 It was that night that I realized that I was on my own with this boat obsession.  I probably should have realized it when a couple years prior she had threatened to leave me if I, “spend one more minute on that old piece of junk boat.”  She was referring to my first sailboat, Lyric, a 1972 Kells 22.  She was right.  Lyric was entirely a piece of junk, but I sure did enjoy getting my hands dirty repairing everything I could.  I enjoyed the work more than I enjoyed sailing her, mostly because I felt like she was going to fall apart at any moment.  No amount of money and time that I could give to her was going to bring her back from her piece-of-junkiness, but damned if I wouldn’t give it a shot.

The next boat I got was a 1980 Sturdee Catboat.  I named her Felix.  She was half the size of Lyric and cost 4-times more.  She was a beautiful little boat that was an absolute joy to sail and required a much smaller time investment each year.  In addition, I was now part of a small group of particular boat owners, the catboat sailor.  I joined The Catboat Association and started attending the meetings and contributing to the online forums and the quarterly newsletter.  This was an entirely new aspect of boating for me;  the boating community.  I loved talking to people about boats and the people I spoke to loved talking about their boats with me.  It was as if I was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but we were all celebrating our alcoholism.

As time went on, I started attending more and more boat shows and meetings.  I soon came to realize that I was there 50% to see the boats and 50% just to rub elbows with like-minded folks.  These days, I go to every show and meeting I can and whenever I bump into someone that has anything remotely nautical to say, I hop right on the conversation.  

heritage boatworksEnter The Hooked on Wooden Boats Podcast.  I stumbled across Dan Mattson and his site one day while doing my usual scouring of the Internet for boat building information.  I downloaded all of his episodes and listened more and more.  I was “hooked.”  Soon I discovered that this man out in Port Townsend, Washington had solved one of my biggest dilemmas!  How to have an excuse to talk to boat folks ALL THE TIME!  Dan interviews boat people all over Washington.  The interviews are so informal and unstructured, that you feel as though you are simply listening in on a conversation at a coffee shop.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I downloaded episodes and listened to them every day to and from work.  They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery.  Consider me flattering.  Dan’s podcast is brilliant and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this field.

With Dan’s inspiration, I built Heritage Boatworks and am running with a podcast of my own.  It is not going to be focused on or limited to the people of wooden boats.  The focus is going to be on the people building small boats in New England.  Anyone from the backyard builder to the well-established production shop.  If they have a story, I want to hear it and share it.  New England is full of history and character in the maritime world and I am going on a hunt to find it.  Welcome to Heritage Boatworks!



About the Author

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I grew up land-locked (by New England standards) in Massachusetts about an hour northwest of Boston.  The ocean was about an hour away, but we spent summers on a lake in New Hampshire.  My family always had boats.  As far back as I can remember, we started with an old 14’ round-bow Starcraft with a terribly loud, 40hp Evinrude that never seemed to run well.  It was all we needed to be out on the water all the time.  My father taught me to water ski when I was about 7 and he took me and the neighborhood kids out every chance he got.

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As the years passed, so did the boats.  We had a handful of v-bottom rowing skiffs including one with an old Elgin 2hp outboard that we had to wrap a rope around the flywheel to start.  To most folks, it was an old, loud, week piece of junk.  To me, it was freedom.  I used to take it out and putt-putt back and forth until the gas ran out and then row back to the house.  I just wanted to be on, in, or around the water at all times.
When I was about 10 years old, my father came home from a yard sale with a 10’ fiberglass rowboat that someone had modified to take a sail, rudder, nd centerboard.  The joy of being on the water escalated to entirely new level that some would refer to as obsession.  I had endless sailing adventures and adopted the boat as my own.  

After high school I seldom got back to the lake house.  Eventually my parents sold the house and I went off to college and some world travel.  When I returned, I met a girl at my high school reunion (now my beautiful wife) and we started to frequent her family’s house on Cape Cod.  Soon, my boat obsession snapped back into focus.  I went back to school at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and discovered a fleet of the school’s sailing dinghies.  Every day I was at school I had to fight the urge to skip a class and go sailing.  Every hour that I did not have class, I was sailing.

Since then I have had 3 sail boats and three children.  Hopefully, we are at a stopping point with both of them.  First, because I cannot handle any more kids.  Secondly because I now own a boat that I have always dreamed of owning; a 1973 Marshall Sanderling.  Her name is Marsaili which is Gaelic for Margaret (my wife and daughter’s traditional family name).

We still spend all of our summer weekends on the Cape.  I sail out of West Yarmouth, MA.  I don’t get out as much as I’d like to as is the case with just about every sailor I know.  When I do get out, it is usually with the family and I do what I can to give them the adventures and stories that they will share with their kids.  I am anxiously looking forward to that age of 9-13 years where they are old enough to know how to relax and not be bored, but young enough to still enjoy some time sailing with their Dad.


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