2012-02-03 / Sports

Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse

By Captain Vinnie Calabro


A Traditional Beals Island Lobster Boat A Traditional Beals Island Lobster Boat The next few articles will be integrated with some discussions regarding various boats. Actually fishing boats what else. I’ll start with the designs and hulls I’m partial to and most familiar with and that would be “downeasters.”

Downeasters are so named because of the place of their origin down east Maine. These are the typical boats one sees on calendars usually moored in some harbor, and often referred to as lobster boats. As one enters Maine through Portland, and slides along the coast, you’ll be traveling down east by the compass. Moving along, the towns are homes to legendary boat builders, Corea, Blue Hill, Barney’s Cove, Ellsworth, Brookline, Jonesport, Millbridge and many more.

The names accompanying the towns are legendary, known throughout the mariners’ world. Names like Beal, Lowell, Young, Libby; all pioneers in this field. The boats aside from their utilitarian purpose of commercial fishing were also at their birth so to speak designed and built to run booze, “rum runners” if you will. But the boats are something special. Their design is unique in that they are single screw (one engine) with a full keel similar to that of a sailboat which houses the shaft leading to the rudder and wheel or propeller. The boats originally made of wood eventually evolved into the modern era and transitioned to fiberglass, and various composites.

They’re fascinating boats because each has its own personality reflecting the different needs of certain regions and the respective builders. It is a little piece of Americana that we should savor. The builders have tweaked, and redesigned their boats to improve on speed and ability to be both seaworthy and economical while carrying heavy loads.

They fall into two distinct categories, skeg built and built down hulls. Simply put built down hulls tend to be deeper in the bilge with more boat in the water while underway. They will run flat or more even with the sea. Skeg boats often run a little higher in the water somewhat like a semi-displacement or planning hull although that comparison would be a little exaggerated. Each has pluses and minuses which I’ll get into at another time.

With the warm weather, fishing continues. Codfish and ling, traditional winter staples, continue to please both locally and out east.

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