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Down East Boats Defined

Head Down East

With origins in Maine’s lobster-fishing industry, Down East-inspired cruisers have become popular because of their classic lines, excellent seakeeping abilities, and simple layout. There seems to be some debate on the geographic range of the species.

Maine

Down East Means Maine

By Bentley Collins
Sabre and Back Cove Yachts, Raymond, Maine

To truly understand what “Down East” means, you can’t fly to Istanbul, Amsterdam, or Shanghai. The way to find true Down East style and what it means, is to head to Maine and we’ll tell you all about it over the most delicious lobster roll you have ever tasted. Other folks can make pretty good copies but Down East boats are more than just fiberglass and wood. You see it’s the love and pride with which they are built that only comes with the original. The organization Maine Built Boats defined it as “Art and Soul.” It’s the perfect combination of style, integrity, dependability, and elegance that make a Down East boat the one that everyone looks at and says, “Wow, she’s a real beauty.”

You see, Maine’s boatbuilders needed the rough and tough sea conditions of the rocky coast of Maine to create the working boat designs that led to today’s Down East boats. Working boats in other parts of the globe could never be called “pretty.” (Well I do admit that the Chesapeake Bay deadrise boats are nice to look at). The pure and functional lines of a Down East boat just plain “work.” And work the original designs did.

When summer people (a.k.a. folks from away) started recognizing the beauty of these working boats, builders who may not have had a boat to build for commercial uses started building boats for “gentlemen.” Sure, times have changed and Down East designs have evolved but you can trace every design back to these roots.

Down East … only from Maine.

Down East Is a State of Mind

By Donald Campbell
San Juan Yachts, Anacortes, Washington

The idea of Down East may live in a type of boating, or maybe in a boat’s styling. We share that type of boating out here, and any of your Maine-built boats are welcome out here to cruise around. And while no one would argue they are back in Maine, they’d quickly realize they aren’t the only ones who use their boats that way or love the way they look.

I’m not going to say we have as many boatbuilders out here. But we do have wonderful pockets of artisans and boatbuilders, and clearly we’ve been able to build a comparable product. I compliment the Down East builders, the New England builders. I love the dedication to that art, but we have people out here that are just as dedicated to wooden boats or composite boats. And we see them in Port Townsend and up in Sidney, British Columbia, in Vancouver, and down in Gig Harbor, and up here in Anacortes. All of these little pockets of boatbuilding are not dissimilar to what is going on in the East, except for maybe the scale. That being said, people have lived in New England a lot longer—we just haven’t been around as long.

But what we do have is a love for the Down East look, and that’s something we all share with boatbuilders in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. And we have Down East coming from Asia too, with Eastbays from Grand Banks in Malaysia, and from Turkey—Vicem has built them there. Italy has Ferretti’s Mochi Craft, and the boats are coming out of Eastern Australia with Palm Beach. It may have all started in Maine, but that’s probably not where it will finish.

We may be on the West Coast but the world is round. At the end of the day, depending on which way you travel, it could even be said that we’re east of Maine.

Down East design is a perfect marriage of form and function. We take a good, hard look at what it is about these boats’ designs that makes them so special. If you’ve ever appreciated the pretty lines of a Down East boat as she passed you by, read here. ➤