42 Sport Cruiser
— By Capt. Bill Pike
— September 2003
Magicians of Mahogany
|Part 2: The big planer in the woodworking shop, for instance, is about the same age as Herb|
The big planer in the woodworking shop, for instance, is about the same age as Herb, who refuses to switch over to a fancy new one. The old one’s made of solid-cast, he says, and heavy enough to stay put while a fellow single-handedly planes a mahogany plank. Then there’s the adze Herb uses to swiftly, unerringly, and gracefully hew stems and prepare the outboard surfaces of frames for planking—the darn thing’s 150 years old, according to Herb, the Michelangelo of South American mahogany. And finally there are the numerous drawers in the shops and sheds filled with ancient block planes, jack planes, spoke shaves, and other fantastically shaped woodworking implements, many borrowed from the realm of the violin maker. Many of these date back four generations when Herb’s French Canadian grandfather built boats in the wilds of our neighbors to the north.
But here’s a detail that was a little tough to get my mind around during my stay at the Boat Works (at least at first): Despite the elemental nature of the raw materials and hand tools the Mayea family uses to fashion custom Mays-Craft runabouts, speedboats, sport cruisers, and fishboats, there’s a considerable amount of cutting-edge technology that goes into each new launch. Moreover, much of the very same technology is subtly applied to each restoration the company does, whether it’s of a 47-foot Chris-Craft Commander or one of Gar Wood’s old Harmsworth Trophy winners (see “How Many Miles per Hour?” right).
“Not to do this kinda thing would be like saying I prefer manual steering because that’s the way they used to do things in the old days,” Larry laughs. “It’s just not sensible.”
So a brand-new boat from the Mayeas may look, feel, and even smell like a plank-on-frame mahogany antique, but at the heart of this charming illusion dwells sophisticated WEST SYSTEM® epoxy products, okoume and sapele plywood, Awlgrip paint, modern, computer-modeled lines and running surfaces, and the supersize powerplants the Mayeas sometimes favor (like big Hemi V-8s and fire-breathing 12-cylinder Italian BPMs). All these things will keep a Mays-Craft looking foxy-fine forever. And, more than likely, sounding that way, too.
Mayea Boat Works Phone: (586) 725-6111. www.mayea.com.
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.