Monday, October 12, 2009

West of Down East

We are at the Elks lodge in Rockland, Maine (map). Having rounded Penobscot Bay (crossing the narrows on the whizzy new bridge -- had we known the observatory was open, we might have stopped), we are in the strictest sense no longer "down east."

The drive down US-1 was lovely, although most of the towns along this stretch are very touristy, and yesterday being Sunday of, for many, a three-day weekend, the streets were packed. We might well have gone all the way to Freeport yesterday, where we are told the L.L. Bean flagship store allows overnight parking, save for the fact that we hoped to make a stop today in Bremen to see the Maine Cat factory.

After we got settled in here and hooked up to the 20-amp power, we pulled the scooters out, then started in on re-mounting the wiper motor. My bang-up J-B Weld job lasted about eight swipes before it gave out and the wipers came to a grinding halt. It was worth a try -- I only hoped to squeeze a week or so out of it until a replacement can be found. We pulled the motor back out and I installed a 4" round cover plate for a water-tight electrical box over the hole -- a perfect fit, and the gasket that comes with the cover plate will keep the moisture out until the project is complete, when I will use caulk for a more permanent seal.

Once we had that mess put away, we rode the mile back into town for dinner, at the casual and mostly local Rockland Cafe right on Main street. I was able to get my Maine lobster craving out of my system; a complete lobster dinner was $17. It is good to remind myself periodically that lobsters, as tasty as they are, are hardly worth the effort to extract the meat. I try to stick to tails, where the meat-per-effort is much higher (and someone else extracts the rest of the lobster into soup or salad or whatever).

This morning I heard from the Maine Cat people; they are indeed open today and we will stop by their plant in Bremen where four P-47 power cats are under construction. The lone completed boat in their inventory is en route between the Annapolis and Ft. Lauderdale shows. We are seriously considering a trawler-style catamaran when we transition from bus to boat in a number of years, and the Maine Cat is one of the few that appears to have the features we want; as long as we were driving virtually right past, we thought it was worth a stop to see how they're built.

After our detour to Bremen we will continue southwest toward Portland.


  1. I hadn't seen a catamaran hull trawler before, but they look pretty interesting. What's led you to consider them over a monohull?

  2. Just a thought, can it be converted to a US motor with a mod of the bracket and arm?


  3. I'm sorry but you can't use "trawler" and "catamaran" in the same sentence unless it is something to the effect of: Catamarans may be functional but are always butt ugly whereas real trawlers can have some of the most gorgeous and functional lines of any power vessel.

  4. @Blackeagle: Let me start by saying that we are not necessarily considering a cat over a monohull, rather I will say we are trying to give them equal consideration. I am aware of many sailing cats that have circumnavigated, and when you consider that sailboats often motor around anyway, the cat as a passagemaking vessel is not out of the question.

    Tomes have been written about the virtues and liabilities of cats vs. monohulls, and it is often a religious debate, with proponents on either side pontificating about how their choice is the only true way, the other option is a death sentence, etc. Truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle. Surf around a bit; I can't capture the whole debate here in the comments.

    In our case, we are looking at the fact that we will be cruising inland, near-coastal, and coastal waters far more than we will be passagemaking, and cats are naturally more stable and comfortable in most seas. Also, cats draw much less water than monohull passagemakers of similar tonnage, and we'd really like to gunkhole in some places where the water can be as skinny as, say, 3'.

    Monohulls that draw only 3' are generally shallow V's with hard chines, and this form has a host of drawbacks in heavy offshore seas.

    The front runners in our current boat research are still monohulls, but I really want to charter a cat for a week or so and see how it feels to us.

    @Rod and Loyce: If I am willing to get in there and modify brackets and linkages, I probably have a whole host of options. In this case, I would convert to something much more common (but still 24 volts, which would rule out most "RV" wiper systems).

    However, access to that area is very restricted, and this sort of modification is out of the question without removing the entire dashboard. That's a major project involving being stationary for three or four days in a place where we have good access to parts and supplies.

    For now, we've decided instead to bite the bullet and find an exact replacement, to avoid the hassle.

    @BOTN aka Jorgito's Dad: I don't disagree with you, which is why I wrote "trawler style" and not "trawler." But, as I am sure you know, there is not widespread agreement on what "trawler" means when applied to a recreational power vessel. Personally, I hate the term, and it's co-opting by the marketing folks, precisely because it is so vague. In my book, if it doesn't have nets and a fish hold, it's not a trawler.

    That said, at the moment, this is the term being used by the entire industry, including the trade press, to refer to low-speed (non-planing) recreational power boats with generous living quarters and aimed at the "cruising" market (whatever that means), and so I am rolling with it, because I don't have it in me to fight it.

    Incidentally, I would characterize the P-47 as a "down east" style boat, cat or not.

  5. Ooops I didn't know your system was 24 Volts, best of luck with finding replacements!

  6. I sent pics of one I have if it will work, you can have it!

    Bryce Gaston aka "BK"


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