"It was boredom,” says Richard Duffy, that brought him back to boatbuilding. He had been half of the Duffy & Duffy boatbuilding team (the other half was his father, Ralph) in Brooklin, Maine, from 1975 to 1995, when he sold Duffy & Duffy to Atlantic Boat Co. in Brooklin, after building about 578 boats.

Then about three years ago, the boredom took hold. It wasn’t long before he asked Spencer Lincoln, who had designed many of the Duffy & Duffy boats: “Spencer, you got one more boat in mind?” all the while thinking, “He hasn’t drawn a boat in 20 years.” Yet, Spencer replied, “Yeah, I got one more in mind.” Thus was born R&R Duffy Boats.

In the days of Duffy & Duffy, the most well-known — and best selling — Duffy & Duffy model was the Spencer Lincoln-designed Duffy 35 (35' x 12'). It got the attention of local lobstermen when in 1981 Duffy took a 35 to the Stonington Lobster Boat Races and won its class.

“After that race, we couldn’t build them fast enough,” he remembers.

So it’s not surprising the first boat in the R&R Duffy Boats lineup is a Spencer Lincoln, much upgraded, Duffy 35.

“It’s a lot different,” says Duffy of the new R&R Duffy Boats 35. For one, it’s bigger at 35' x 14'. That’s an additional two feet of beam, and it’s wider across the stern at 12 feet 6 inches. The 35 also “runs a lot straighter and doesn’t stand up as much.” Plus, there’s a 22-foot cockpit.

The first R&R Duffy Boats 35, with a 450-hp Cummins QSL9, was launched in March. It’s the Millie (named after Duffy’s mother) and is Richard Duffy’s new lobster boat. The Millie was laid up at Duffy’s shop in Brooklin and finished off by Shawn Snow — who previously worked for Duffy & Duffy — at Snow’s SS Boats in nearby Sedgwick.

“Shawn is going to be laying them up and building them,” says Duffy, who admits that “after getting down on my hands and knees and putting the shaft and engine in (the Millie), I don’t think I can do it anymore.” That doesn’t mean he won’t be helping Snow now and then, but basically Duffy and the Millie will be lobstering.

Duffy isn’t sure when the second R&R Duffy Boats 35 will be ready, though the lay-up process began May 17.

After John’s Bay Boat Co. launched the 45' x 15' 10" wooden lobster boat Lori Jane for Ed Munsey of Cundys Harbor, Maine, on Aug. 17, 2019, Peter Kass and his crew set about building the next boat, the Never Better, a 42-foot pleasure boat. Kass wasn’t optimistic about building another lobster boat in the near future. In fact, he didn’t see anybody wanting a new wooden lobster boat.

“Right now I don’t see anybody buying lobster boats,” he said, putting the blame on bait problems, whale issues and low lobster landings.

At John’s Bay Boat Co., Logan Sampson fashions a floor timber for a 46-foot lobster boat due to be launched in the fall. Walter Barrows photo.

But then the Never Better launched on Oct. 31, 2020, and work began on the next boat, a 46' x 15' 10" lobster boat going to Friendship, Maine. It’s due to be launched in the fall and should be followed by two more lobster boats.

The 46-footer now being built is the 75th boat designed and built by Kass, with somewhat over 50 being lobster boats. For each boat, he usually makes a half model as part of the design process, but this boat’s owner went for a ride with Munsey on the Lori Jane and “thought it was a good boat for him,” says Kass, so the Lori Jane’s half model and molds worked just fine for the new boat.

She will have cedar hull planking and oak framing — “the normal formula,” Kass says. Up forward it will be “more than most lobster boats and not as much as some of our boats.” That should amount to four upper and lower bunks, an aluminum workbench on the starboard side, and a counter on the port side, which is a good spot for a microwave.

Instead of seamed and caulked Douglas fir decks over white oak deck beams, there will be a plywood and fiberglass deck with rubber tiles, because the traps will be set out of an open stern, and fir decks don’t hold up that well. A 2,500-pound lobster tank is going beneath the deck. In the engine room is an 800-hp Cat C18. Kass is “hopeful that she’ll make 21 knots wide open and 17 knots cruising.” He’ll find out come fall. 

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Michael Crowley is the former Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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