Smaller wooden lobster boat offers intriguing test for Maine builder

Peter Buxton pretty much operates a one-man shop at Buxton Boats in Stonington, Maine. He started a 31′ 6″ x 11′ wooden lobster boat on the first day of December, and by the first week in February it was two-thirds planked up. The only help he’s had was for one day steaming oak frame timbers.

The boat is for Kathy Lymburner, a fisherman in Stonington. The boat she currently lobsters out of is a fiberglass 28-footer built by the late Lyford Stanley. “She wanted something a little bigger and decided to go with wood,” says Buxton.

Though it’s slightly smaller than the boats Buxton usually builds, he decided to forego starting the design with a half model. “I put the lines down on paper, liked what I saw and went from there.”

“I have had a lot of interest in a boat of this size. People like the looks of it and like the idea of a little bit smaller boat.”

He describes the hull as a cross between a built-down and a skeg. “It’s quite built-down until almost amidships, then the rabbet line takes a dive towards the keel and turns into a skeg boat.” Buxton favors building wood boats and has for years avoided working with fiberglass, but he’s forced to use that material now, as Lymburner’s boat is a bit of a compromise between wood and fiberglass. The sides of the wheelhouse and trunk cabin will be solid fiberglass panels over oak frames.

The reason for the composite panels is simple: to cut down on maintenance and repairs. “Anywhere you put a hole — a window,” says Buxton, “if it’s plywood and fiberglass, water gets into the end grain of the plywood. And fresh water is death on wood. This takes care of that issue. I’m trying to get it to the point where she won’t have to paint anything but the hull.”

The platform will probably be traditionally caulked Douglas fir, and there will be a 355-hp John Deere for power. Lymburner’s boat should be completed this summer.

Though the trend for lobster boats has emphasized bigger, especially beamier, hulls, Buxton is very excited about this boat.

“I have had a lot of interest in a boat of this size,” he says. “People like the looks of it and like the idea of a little bit smaller boat.”

About the author

Michael Crowley

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

  • Mike Price

    This is something that would work well over on this coast.Don’t see much new plank boats though.I like the wider deck space.My boat is 33ft plywood. 10ft at the widest and draws 5.5ft.weighs in at a little over 32 thousand pounds. I fish for salmon, crab, rockfish,longline off shore and tuna fish. Little boats can do alot out here for less money.😊

  • Art V

    I’ve have numerous Wood and fiberglass boats in my time and I like wood boats … HOWEVER, the younger folks that like these will soon learn the extensive maintenance these boats will require … when running a business, downtime is money lost which can never be made up …

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