A Word With... Norm Abram
Best known as the master carpenter on This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop, Norm Abram has been a celebrity in the home improvement universe for decades. But few people know this veteran craftsman also has maintained a lifelong love affair with boats. PMY recently caught up with Abram to discuss his time away from the workshop.
Q: What are your earliest boating memories?
A: Well, my family’s first boat was a nine-foot plywood runabout that we bought for $150. My father had won a raffle for a 5-hp Johnson outboard. We used to take it out on the lake for short day trips. We had a lot of fun with it.
Q: If you started with a nine-footer, what are you cruising around in today?
A: I have a 42-foot Sabreline Flybridge, and I love it. As far as boat size goes, my comfort level is about the 40-foot range. Anything larger becomes a whole different experience. The Sabreline is perfect for the kind of boating I like to do.
Q: Where do you typically go?
A: I spend most of my time cruising around New England with my wife. Our favorite area is the Boston Harbor Islands. They’re great. We hit Buzzard’s Bay, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, New Castle, Kennebunkport. We don’t go down south too often. New England’s got enough for us.
Q: Does being a master carpenter help you on the water?
A: It would probably help more if I had a wooden boat. I actually get teased a lot because mine’s fiberglass. People will say, “You spend all your time working with wood, then you go off in a plastic boat.” It’s funny, but they don’t realize how much wood there is onboard: cherry, holly, teak. Some of the greatest woods in the world are used in fiberglass boats.
Q: Ever think about starting a new program called This Old Boat?
A: Ha ha. You know, we actually built a boat once on The New Yankee Workshop. It was only a one-person sailboat, but it was a challenge. If I ever build anything nautical again, I’d love to build a nice wooden tender, shaped like a Zodiac, but all wood.
Q: What do you enjoy most about cruising?
A: Just spending time with my wife is one of the best parts. She’s my first mate. She helps with the planning, maintenance, everything. It’s great relaxation for me to be out there, and she knows it. She always tells me, “You’re so much more at ease on the water.” We both work pretty hard, and there’s really nothing better than taking a little cruise to help you get your sense of balance back.
Give ’Em a Break
With the manatee population continuing to decline in Florida, state officials have ratcheted up fines this year for boaters who speed in officially designated slow zones.
Fines start at $65 if you’re caught by a local law enforcement agency and $150 if you’re busted in a federally protected zone. However, most of the statewide speed zones are only in effect during the high season of manatee migration, which takes place November 15 to March 31. After that, your throttle can return to its regular position.
Most boaters in Florida live near manatee slow zones, but if you’re trying to plot your next cruise away from them, check out www.floridaconservation.org for a complete map. Actual speed limits vary, but most areas only allow you to go “slightly faster than a no-wake zone.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation says it counted 2,568 manatees across the state in 2004, down from 3,029 the previous year.
Got an interesting boating story for this column? Write to FYI, Power & Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: email@example.com. No phone calls please.
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