|Fathers & Sons|
Why did this gorgeous 40-foot lobsteryacht take 20 years to build? Well...
By Capt. Bill Pike — May 2003
Rick Norton was the kind of guy you run into once in a while around a boatyard--a likeable, affable dreamer. Some said he'd come to Yarmouth from California. Some said they hadn't a clue where he'd come from. One way or the other, though, he fell victim to a "Boat For Sale" sign shortly after his arrival, which prompted him to foresee himself as a real, salt-of-the-earth fisherman someday, wresting a hardy living from the coast of the Pine Tree State in an authentic Nova Scotia-built lobsterboat. The fantasy was short on practicality.
Norton lived an odd life. Slipping off to Mexico once in a while. Or Colombia. Or Belize. His domestic situation was fringy, too. He lived in a Volkswagen camper some of the time and spent the rest in a two-story greenhouse concocted of two-by-fours and construction plastic and locally known as "The Pleasure Palace." It occupied a dirt patch behind Ralph Stevens' Yankee Marina on the Royal River.
Norton's Novi boat was a wreck. In fact, it was such a wreck that Dan Lowell, who with brothers Royal and Carroll comprised one of the most respected and successful boatbuilding fraternities in all of New England, told him, "Rick, ya boat needs a whole new stem and forefoot." Dan didn't have time to fashion these components himself, being busy putting an old Herreshoff to rights at Yankee Marina, so he suggested Carroll for the job.
Carroll Lowell was a tall, good-natured man with workman's hands, curly hair, and merry blue eyes. He had his own yard, a solid one known for both commercial vessels and yachts: Even Keel Marine Specialties. Lowell liked Norton, agreed to help him out, and shook hands on the deal, a gesture that in the custom boatbuilding circles of Maine in the early 1980's abrogated the need for paperwork. The stem turned out wonderfully, a piece of pure, white-oak art, thanks to Lowell's inimitable talents with a chainsaw, adze, jack planes, and chisels. "Now ya stem's too nice fa ya boat," said Dan upon viewing the finished product. "Ask Carroll to design ya a new boat for ya stem."
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.