Last year, Jeff Eaton at Eaton’s Boat Shop & Fiberglassing in Deer Isle, Maine, finished off an Eaton Boat Shop 25 for a local lobsterman, and immediately it showed signs of being very popular. The 25-footer came out of a mold Eaton purchased six years ago that is about 20 years old and has gone through some name changes, from the Northern Edge 25 to the Northern Bay 25 when John Hutchins of Down East Boats and Composites had it, and now the Eaton Boat Shop 25.

This winter Eaton started building three 25s. Two are kit boats for tuna fishermen, one in New York and the other in Massachusetts. Each of those 25s will be powered by a 300-hp Yamaha outboard. The third 25 will be a pleasure boat with a head, V-berths and a settee.

The Eaton Boat Shop 25 with a 200-hp outboard does 35 mph. Eaton says with the 300-hp outboard “we are looking for the higher 40s to 50 mph.”

There’s been enough interest for next year in the 25 that Eaton is seriously thinking of constructing an addition to his boatshop that will allow him to lay up a 25 hull and deck, then move those to the existing shop to be finished off, while laying up another hull and deck in the new shop.

Also in the cards for next year is the possibility of raffling off an Eaton Boat Shop 25. A thousand tickets would be offered at $20 a ticket. “We’d do a raffle and then split it up, $10,000 to the fire department and $10,000 to the ambulance volunteers. If there’s something they need, they can get it,” says Eaton. “It kind of helps the community out.”

In the meantime, Eaton is getting his own lobster boat ready for the coming season and the 2021 Maine Lobster Boat Races. Eaton’s La Bella Vita, a Northern Bay 38, is nine years old, and its 13-liter 750-hp Iveco has 11,000 hours and needs to be replaced. A new 16-liter Iveco is going in. “It starts out at 815, and we’ll see what we can get from there,” Eaton says when asked its horsepower. “You never know till you put her in.” He’s known of other boats that have replaced the 13-liter Iveco, and they’ve all gained speed, which he acknowledges would be good for racing. (La Bella Vita races in Diesel Class K 701 to 900 hp.)

Speaking of lobster boat racing, the first of Maine’s 2021 lobster boat races is set for Boothbay Harbor on June 19. One of the new boats bound to draw a lot of attention is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a 36 Crowley Beal designed by Calvin Beal, being built at Kennedy Marine Engineering in Steuben, Maine.

Kennedy Marine Engineering is finishing off this 36 Crowley Beal with a 9-liter FPT to be a top contender in the Maine Lobster Boat Races. Jon Johansen.

If the name is familiar to those who follow Maine lobster boat racing it’s because Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was written across the bow and transom of a 28 Calvin built by Kennedy Marine Engineering’s Roger Kennedy in 2014.

“It won every race that year — beat Wild Wild West. We were the boat to beat that year,” says Kennedy. After a season of racing, he sold her “to a fellow in California.” Now Kennedy is getting back into racing with a different Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

The first Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was powered by a 6.7-liter FPT. The new version has a 9-liter FPT that as a stock model should produce 589 hp. But as Kennedy is quick to say, “I’m going to get a lot more than 580 horses.” Asked how he was going to jack up the power, Kennedy replied: “Magic. I’ve got a couple of trick things I think will help it. Just going to massage it and play with it and see what we get. It won’t be earth shattering, but it will be a fun boat to watch.” Kennedy knows Whiskey Tango Foxtrot should hit at least 58 mph with enough power because, he says, that’s what Stevie Johnson achieved with a 36 Crowley Beal in the 1990s.

Keeping the weight down is key to building a fast boat, and Kennedy is doing just that. He started out with a hull, top, and engine weighing 5,500 pounds. Since then, only cored and composite materials have been used as building materials. “There’s literally not one stitch of wood in it,” he says.

Speed is important to Kennedy, but so is safety. He says Whiskey Tango Foxtrot could go 100 miles offshore and its occupants would be safe. “I’m not building a lightweight race boat just for the sake of going fast. I’m building a sturdy workboat that as a byproduct could go fast.”

(Whiskey Tango Foxtrot will race in Diesel Class J 551 to 700 hp.)

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

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