The East Side Boat Shop in Machiasport, Maine, launched the “Yes Dear,” a 41' x 15' 8" Libby with a 1,000-hp FPT, for a Rockland, Maine, lobsterman. Frank Coffin, the shop’s owner, figures the FPT will easily get the “Yes Dear” to 32 or 33 knots.

He describes the “Yes Dear” as a “standard plain-Jane lobster boat. Nothing fancy.” It is composite constructed with a split wheelhouse, V-berths forward, an open stern with a tailgate, but no lobster tanks or rope lockers.

The East Side Boat Shop has the Libby 34, 38, 41 and 47 molds. Coffin has found the Ernest Libby designed hulls to be very good at carrying a lot of weight. The owner of a 47 Libby that Coffin built a few years back reported that with 220 lobster traps aboard, along with all its trawl ropes and bay ropes and full fuel tanks, she was able to cruise at 15 to 16 knots. The boat’s owner told Coffin, “I’d like to see any of these other hulls go that fast with that much weight in them.”

Coffin attributes the Libby weight-carrying capacity to the hull’s rocker. “The Libby’s got a different type of rocker in her. They don’t jump up; they just rise as they are going along. They ride their weight more on the middle of the boat.”

The fourth week in June, another 41 Libby was nearly completed for a lobsterman on Bailey Island, Maine. She’s outfitted a bit more extensively than the “Yes Dear,”with lobster tanks, a rope locker, aluminum framed windows, stainless steering and an on-demand hydraulic system. A 700-hp Volvo should have her cruising at 28 to 29 knots.

In the yard outside the shop is a hull that will be a plug for a new 41 Libby mold. This one will have a 10-inch deeper keel to allow for a bigger wheel and 5- to 7-inch-higher sides. “These guys are running such horsepower now,” says Coffin, “that you can’t get a wheel under her. The average now is 800 to 1,000 hp. You don’t need it.”

Downeast Nightmare was the top boat at the Harpswell races. Friendship Boats photo.

Maine’s lobster boat racing passed the halfway mark with races at Stonington on July 11, Friendship on July 18 and Harpswell on July 25; 142 boats showed up for the three races. More boats would undoubtedly have come were it not for heavy rain and choppy racing conditions at Friendship and Harpswell.

The Harpswell “races were fun to watch to see if they could keep them on the bottom; (the boats) were mostly in the air,” says Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing.

The rainy conditions also meant that speeds weren’t available for most races. Though that wasn’t an issue at Stonington with 75 boats, including Wild Wild West, a West 28 with a 1,050-hp Isotta, which showed up for its first race of the season. She set a new diesel record, hitting 61.6 mph in the Non-Working Boats, any length, and any horsepower class.

Blue Eyed Girl, a Morgan Bay 38 with a 900-hp Scania, which won several races earlier in the season, took first in Diesel Class K, 701 to 900 hp, 28 feet to 39 feet 11 inches, the Fastest Lobster Boat Afloat race and the Andrew Gove Memorial Cup — Fastest Working Lobster Boat. Andrew Gove died at 90 after a long career of fishing and racing his boat Uncle’s UFO, a Northern Bay 36 with a 900-hp Mack. He raced up until the last couple of years of his life. 

At Friendship, where 30 boats showed up, Blue Eyed Girl also won her races. But La Bella Vita, a Northern Bay 38 with an 815-hp FPT, was close in both the Diesel Class K and the Diesel Free-For-All, losing by only a boat length.

Foolish Pleasure, a 30-foot Riley Beal with a 650-hp 455 Stroker, which usually runs in the low-40 mph range, was the fastest gas-powered boat at Friendship, winning Gasoline Class D, V-8, 376 hp and over, 28 feet and over and the Gasoline Free for All.

The attendance was a little better at Harpswell but not great, with just 37 boats arriving. No one came from the eastward or Downeast, as Mainers say. Among those deciding to stay home were Blue Eyed Girl, Wild Wild West and Foolish Pleasure.

The top boat of the day was Downeast Nightmare, a Mussel Ridge 28 with a 1,000-hp Chevy with a blower. She won her class, Gasoline Class E, V-8, Over 525 cid, 28 feet and over, supercharged/turbos, as well as the Gasoline Free For All and the Fastest Lobster Boat race.

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

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