Jonesport Shipyard does what most other Maine coastal boatyards do day in and day out — build, maintain and repair boats for commercial fishermen and pleasure boat owners, and store them in the winter. Then there are the 1,500 covid-19 protective face shields the yard is building for Down East Community Hospital in nearby Machias. Even with the entire nation trying to cope with various levels of the covid-19 pandemic, building face shields is not something done in your average boatyard.

It started with Robert Alley, Jonesport’s representative in the Maine House of Representatives, coming by and asking for donations of N95 facemasks. “We had a couple of boxes and gave them to the hospital,” says Jonesport Shipyard’s owner Sune Noreen. Shortly after that, Noreen’s daughter reached out to the hospital and asked what they needed.

“Face shields” was the reply “and would we like to do that and give them a price?” says Noreen. He admits it was hard to come up with “a price for something we haven’t made before and not lose money on it — but we are making do.”

The face shields, made out of polycarbonate, protect the wearer’s face if they are sneezed on. Each shield gets three replaceable 1-1/2" x 10" foam pads that rest against the head and a head strap made from blue tourniquet material. The face shields are made in a special room “and we don’t let anyone in,” Noreen says, other than the person making the face shields, and they are wearing a white suit and gloves, eye protection and sneeze protection.

Covid-19 has also affected the daily boatyard routine. Only those working on boats are allowed into the buildings; employees don’t all work at the same time. “They are a little bit staggered,” says Noreen, which means jobs might take longer than normal, and though some yard workers and customers don’t want to wear masks or “think it’s silly, all are wearing masks. We are doing what the state mandates to stay open.”

That allows the Jonesport Shipyard crew to launch lobster boats like the 42-foot Willis Beal-built Papa’s Legacy that had been in storage for the winter, and the Son Seeker, a 46-foot Wayne Beal that was finished off by Taylored Boats in 2017. It too had been in storage for the winter but had bonding and wiring issues, broken terminal fittings, with some electrolysis that needed attention.

Noreen admits that as a result of working and living with covid-19 issues, “I haven’t felt this much fatigue in a long time.” But the launching of the two lobster boats was different: “That was kind of fun,” he says.

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

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