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A Sampler of New 2021 Lobster Boats

No doubt the title of “Biggest New Fiberglass Lobster Boat” for 2021 goes to the 60’ Carpe Diem, owned by Ethan Whitaker of Corea.

Dixon’s Marine Group, located in Lower Wood’s Harbour, Nova Scotia built Carpe Diem, beginning with a 59’11”x 20’10” hull designed by yard founder Gary Dixon. As do the (relatively speaking) smaller Dixon designs, the solid fiberglass hull has a molded-in chine.

“I had a 45’ Dixon for nine years before this one,” says Whitaker, “and it was a really good sea boat. But fishing further out and staying overnight? I wanted something bigger.”

The 60-foot Carpe Diem makes the water fly off Corea. B. Robbins photo.

And big she is, topping out at 96,000 lbs. in the travelift at Billings Diesel in Stonington.

Billings was the source for Carpe Diem’s main engine — a V-12 MAN derated to 1200 hp — matched to a 2.5:1 Twin Disc 5146A gear. During sea trials, wide open throttle (2118 rpm) yielded a top speed of 19 knots; 1950 rpm gave 15.6 knots with a fuel burn of 47.8 gals per hour (gph); and at 1800 rpm the 60-footer was cruising 14 knots while burning 39.7 gph.

Once you get over the sheer size of Carpe Diem, probably one of the next things to catch your eye is her hauler setup, which Whitaker says was inspired by the Little Bay offshore lobster fleet. With a traditionally placed davit acting as a leader block, trawls are actually pulled aboard by a 17” hauler located aft of a trap table situated alongside the cutout.

“I’ll be honest, I was nervous and excited all at the same time that first trip,” says Whitaker, “but the new hauler worked really slick … everything did, really.”

Dixon’s built Carpe Diem’s wheelhouse with an extended overhead to allow the crew to work under cover. “It’s hard to find a good crew,” says Whitaker. “I wanted to make things as comfortable for them as possible.”

2021 also marked the reunion of two names who definitely had an influence on the fiberglass age of boat building in Maine: designer Spencer Lincoln and builder Richard Duffy.

R&R Duffy #1 - 35'x14' with a 12'6" transom. B. Robbins photo.

The pair hadn’t collaborated on a boat model since Duffy sold the original Duffy & Duffy molds to Atlantic Boat back in 1995. Lincoln (whose body of design work also includes several of the BHM models and the Northern Bay 36) was responsible for eight of the original Duffy hulls: the 26, 30, 31, 35, 38, 42, 48 and 50 were all his.

Duffy (who’d been lobstering since getting out of full-time boat building – and, by his own admission, had “too much time to think”) approached his old cohort Lincoln a couple of years ago with a question: “Do you have one more boat in your head – one that’s better than anything you’ve done before?” As it turned out, Lincoln was up for the challenge. Duffy’s wish list specified a new 35-footer with a 14’ beam and no tumblehome aft; a 22’ cockpit; a low sheer (“Something that us older guys could climb over from a skiff”); good visibility from the helm; maximum platform area with the ability to hold up weight well (Lincoln ended up holding the transom to 12’6”); and a hull that would be steady when you cut around in your own wake to gaff a buoy … all incorporated into a big boat that didn’t look bulky.

Richard Duffy spent the summer of 2021 fishing the first R&R Duffy (“R&R” is for Richard and his late father Ralph – or “Riley” as he was known to friends) to roll out of the doors at SS Boats in Sedgwick and reports the boat to be “everything I hoped it would be.”

Powered by a 450-horse QSL9 Cummins, the new model did everything her designer and owner wanted her to performance-wise, topping out at 25 knots; 1600 rpm yielded a “sweet spot” of 17 knots while burning a stingy 9 gals/hr.

Although the average sizes of Maine lobster boats and the engines that power them have steadily crept up over the past few years, there’s still a place for the outboard-powered lobster skiff.

Elijah Brice at the tiller of an Eastport 17. B. Robbins photo.

Young Elijah Brice of Brice Boatworks in Eastport is keeping the “mosquito fleet” tradition alive with the Eastporter model line of fiberglass skiffs, ranging from 17’x 6’6” up to a 24-footer that’s 8’6” wide. (Brice knows what his hulls are capable of. He fished Grand Manan Channel in a 20, alongside boats twice his size or more.)

“One of the 17s went to an older lobsterman who wanted it to teach his grandsons about fishing,” says Brice. “With a 40-horse Yamaha, he says he can cruise 20 mph at half-throttle.”

For now, Brice is a one-man shop – which he prefers. “For the most part, I enjoy working on smaller boats. They’re more manageable for a single person.”

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