A Word With...
Lee S. Wilbur
This year Lee S. Wilbur celebrated the 30th anniversary of his custom
boatbuilding business, Wilbur Yachts. Since 1973 the Southwest Harbor,
Maine, builder has crafted more than 200 Downeast-style boats ranging
from 28 to 61 feet, but the anniversary gala marked the passing of the
Wilbur Yachts torch to his daughter Ingrid and son-in-law John Kachmar.
PMY recently caught up with Lee to talk about his life in the
Q: When did
you first fall in love with boats?
always enjoyed being on the water. As a scrawny kid of five, it was
difficult for my parents to keep me out of a boat or canoe. My first
boatbuilding project was a Mini-Max hydroplane at age 13—I was
Q: Did any
one boat have a major impact on your interest in becoming a builder?
two actually. Jericho, by Bunker and Ellis; and the old Egg Harbor 38s.
I loved the sheerline of the Jericho, and the angles of the windows
on those old Eggs were perfect.
Q: What do
you like most about the business?
enjoy creativity of all kinds, whether it be writing, design, painting,
or laying out a boat. Solving the myriad problems of bringing a project
to fruition is my idea of great fun.
of writing, you contribute monthly columns to a local trade newspaper.
How did that come about?
began writing a column for Fishermen’s Voice simply because I love
to write. Bill Crowe, the editor, has given me free rein to tackle any
subject. It’s been a great learning experience.
Q: Where are
you planning to go?
cruise around the coast of Maine and then head to Florida in the fall.
Now that my daughter and son-in-law have taken over the business, we
plan to do some serious cruising over the next few years. It’s
something I’ve missed in 30 years of boatbuilding.
the most memorable cruise you’ve taken?
of the neatest nights I’ve ever experienced was leaving Long Island
around five in the afternoon, cruising down the Jersey coast under a
full moon, and getting into Cape May in the early morning. We ran the
boat from the flying bridge on one of our 34s and talked and catnapped
up there the entire night.
Q: What advice
would you give someone who wants to make a business out of building
and designing boats?
to the highest standards you’re capable. The ocean is no place
for shoddy workmanship.
and dealers know it. PMY definitely knows it. And now the National
Marine Manufacturers Association apparently knows it, too: Women love
to boat, more than ever.
To keep pace with
the times, the NMMA has added a large section to its Discover Boating
Web site devoted exclusively to female boaters. “Women at the Helm”
offers a variety of articles, columns, and tips to keep women of all
skill levels and nautical backgrounds up to date on the latest boating
Regular columns include
“Woman of the Month,” which highlights interesting and accomplished
boaters, and “Ask the Boating Moms,” in which two nautical
pros address readers’ questions covering all manners of boating
issues. For the cruising gourmands, there’s even a “Recipe
of the Month” feature, which helps men and women alike get the
most out of their galleys. Best of all, all of the information on the
site is free.
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.
No phone calls please.
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