Maine yard getting back into boatbuilding

The lobster boat Squeeze Play, a 40-foot Young Brothers, rolled out of the Gamage Shipyard’s paint shop in South Bristol, Maine, in March.

Besides a complete paint job, the boatyard rebuilt the transom after the Squeeze Play was hit by a powerboat, redid the hydraulics and installed a new rudder, prop and radar.

Nothing unusual about that work; it’s done at a lot of Maine boatyards. But it’s been a long while since a Gamage yard has repaired or built a commercial fishing boat. It wasn’t always that way.

A 58' steel stern trawler was the first delivery of 1978 for Gamage Shipbuilders. The trawler, Miss Shirley, was built for Peter Sheaffer of Barnstable, Mass. Everett "Red" Boutilier photo.

A 58′ steel stern trawler was the first delivery of 1978 for Gamage Shipbuilders. The trawler, Miss Shirley, was built for Peter Sheaffer of Barnstable, Mass. Everett “Red” Boutilier photo.

The Gamage name has been connected with South Bristol since 1871 when Albion and Menzies Gamage started A&M Shipbuilding. They were the great uncles of the most well known of the shipbuilding Gamages. That’s Harvey Gamage who from 1924 to 1976 built more than 288 sailboats, powerboats, draggers, scallopers and windjammers. Between 1944 and 1969 it was mostly large fishing boats, averaging about four a year, with many going to the Gloucester and New Bedford fishing fleets.

Gamage died in 1976 and his son, Linwood, took over before selling the boatyard in 2000. The emphasis then switched to a marina-based operation with haul outs for storage. Then a couple of years ago, the yard’s owners hired Mike Tatro as general manager with the idea of getting back into new boat construction and repairs.

“My mission statement is to put us back into finishing out hulls, building new boats and full refits,” says Tatro. “That’s on both sides of the fence (commercial and pleasure).”

With any luck, the Squeeze Play is just the start of a long run. In fact, it’s possible a 48-foot Novi hull will be finished off at the Gamage Shipyard this summer.

About the author

Michael Crowley

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

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