There’s no shortage of boats being built at Wesmac Custom Boats in Surry, Maine. “We have many, many to build,” says Steve Wessel, owner of the yard, adding that Wesmac is booked through next summer.

One of those is the Sarah B, a 46' 3" x 14' 7" tuna boat launched the afternoon of Aug. 26 for Gavin Boucher out of Harwinton, Conn. She has a 55-gallon bait hold, a fish hold, and “everything up forward,” says Wessel, referring to bunks, a shower, galley and head. The Sarah B is powered with a 1,000-hp Cat C12.9.

“We are selling a lot of 50s,” Wessel says, referring to the Wesmac 50 and the Wesmac 54. Both have a 17-foot 6-inch beam and 6 feet of draft. One of the 50s is a lobster boat for Matt Huntley of Machiasport, Maine. The hull was being laid up at the end of August and should be completed in late fall.

Another Wesmac 50 with a 1,600-hp Caterpillar C32 will be trucked to the West Coast and launched as a commercial tuna boat and a sportfishing boat for Robert Pedigo, probably in the fall of 2022.

Among the mix of 50-footers are several 40-footers. That includes two tuna boats, one at 42' x 14' 6" and the other at 46' x 14' 6". Both should be launched next June and will be powered by 1,150-hp Scania diesels. Wessel says it’s a new model Scania — D116304M. “I brought the first two into this country.”

The 42-footer is for Chris Peterson in Freeport, Maine, whose previous boat was the Mojo. This will be the Mojo 2. The 46-footer is going to Cedric and Tricia Vohden in Oceanport, N.J. Both boats will have a fish hold and bait tank. Up forward will be bunks, a galley, shower and head.

Among the boats being built, the only one under 40 feet was a 38-foot passenger boat for the Coast Guard that will be based out of Laurel Hollow, N.Y., but operate out of Montauk. “We don’t do small boats very often,” noted Wessel.

Due to be launched in December is a Coast Guard-certified 54' x 17' 6" clam dredger going to Bridgeport, Conn. For power there’s a 1,000-hp Caterpillar main engine, while a Nanni 4.5 will power the dredge pump.

All the above-mentioned boats have Northern Lights generators — 9, 15, 16 or 20 kW.

They weren’t the fastest boats at the Long Island races, but Lynn Marie and Hook & Ladder put on a good show in the Diesel class-A race. Jon Johansen photo

The weekend before the Sarah B was launched and about 100 miles to the southwest, Maine’s lobster boat racing season ended with races at Long Island on Saturday and Portland on Sunday. At the conclusion of the Portland races, 645 boats had traveled to the 11 races that began June 19 in Boothbay.

This year’s numbers would have been higher if the Friendship and Harpswell races hadn’t been hit with heavy rain and choppy racing conditions, and if the weatherman hadn’t announced, “Hurricane’s coming!” for the Portland race, says Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing.

Still, the 2021 total number is a big improvement over the 379 boats that came to the 2020 races. That year five races were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, the last “normal” racing year, 813 boats raced.

At Long Island, the fastest races involved Blue Eyed Girl, a Morgan Bay 38 with a 900-hp Scania, and Maria’s Nightmare II, a Mussel Ridge 28 with an 800-hp Nanni. They were matched up in Diesel — Class K, 701 to 900 hp, 28 feet to 40 feet, again in the Diesel Free-for-All and then the Fastest Lobster Boat race. Maria’s Nightmare II took the first race at 39 mph, was edged out by Blue Eyed Girl in the Diesel Free-For-All, and then beat Blue Eyed Girl in the Fastest Lobster Boat Race. Generally, “they were side-by-side all the way up the course,” says Johansen.

The next day Blue Eyed Girl was one of the boats that chose not to race at Portland. So Maria’s Nightmare II easily took Diesel — Class K, the Diesel Free-for-All at 50.1 mph, as well as the Fastest Lobster Boat race. The reason for Maria’s Nightmare II’s different speeds in Long Island and at Portland is “Maria’s Nightmare put a new prop on,” between the races, says Johansen.

Closing out the day, as is tradition in Portland, was the tugboat race. This year it was between three McAllister tugs, who put on their own high-speed display, running neck-and-neck at about 15 mph.

The Portland races usually have a fundraiser, and this year was no different with money raised for college scholarships and trade school scholarships. Some of the money came from selling racing T-shirts and sweatshirts, but the bulk of it came when race winners gave back their prize money to the scholarship fund. That would be $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third.

“Everybody put back to the scholarship fund,” says Katie Werner who manages the fundraising. She estimates that $4,500 will be raised. Scholarships are to be presented at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in March.

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

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