This 36-foot, 1930s William Hand was abandoned in a shed before one boatyard decided to bring it back to life.

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One Lucky Boat

Our home port marina of Essex Boatworks is usually a beehive of activity. You never know what to expect here. In one corner of the yard, a boat’s being hauled out. Beside that, a Pershing on the hard is being surveyed, and a nearby trawler is undergoing routine maintenance. It’s not yet 10 a.m. and there are new boats to show, calls to field and a mile-long work order list. But one project in particular stops me in my tracks and causes my car tires to dig into the gravel below.

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She’s a 36-foot, 1930s William Hand, and she’s one lucky boat. Abandoned and relegated to a dark corner of the yard’s shed, time has not been kind to this salty soul. A couple more years and she would likely succumb to euthanasia by way of a chainsaw-wielding executioner. At the 11th hour an angel swooped in and pulled this boat back from the brink. Every time I pass through the yard, I usually spot at least one person poking and prodding her like Dr. Frankenstein.

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On one humid—and surprisingly quiet—August morning, I spot an employee named John crouched beneath the old-timer, stuffing the seams with -cotton. I’m struck by the juxtaposition of a time--honored wooden boat restoration being done in such a -modern yard.

“Having fun?” I ask.

“Actually yeah, I love this kind of project,” John replies with a genuine smile as he fills the seams between the wooden hull planks with tools that appear to be on loan from Noah himself. I ask when she might get back to plying the seas. “Not until next summer, but come check back on her.”

“I’ll be back soon,” I replied.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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