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Jonesport Shipyard Remains Part of Maine's Working Waterfront

The Jonesport Shipyard is a mainstay for fishermen on the Downeast coast.

Now it is under new ownership. Photo from Facebook.

It all started with a casual conversation.

“I was talking with Tim Toppins [Toppins Diesel and Marine Service in Columbia Falls] and he told me that the Osmond Beal’s boatshop [on Beals Island] sold. It wasn’t offered to anyone on the island. A person from Florida bought it, cleaned it up and put up a gate and a lock,” said Jon Johanson, publisher of Maine Coastal News, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association and the Maine Built Boats organization.

Johanson was concerned. There remain only a small number of properties along the Maine coast dedicated to boatyards, wharves and all the other uses needed for the state’s commercial fishing fleet. Those properties have high value to those who want to live by the sea and have the money to pay for the privilege. But the need for working boatyards and access to the ocean remains critical to fishermen.

“The writing’s on the wall about what’s going to happen,” Johnson said.

So, rather than see another important property in the area change into a non-commercial use, Johanson decided to act. In November 2023 he concluded purchase of the Jonesport Shipyard, known as the Frost Shipyard until it was purchased by Sune and Patricia Noreen in 1985. The property had been for sale for several years.

“It’s the only boatyard between Mount Desert Island and Eastport, other than a small one in Sorrento and the one that closed in Winter Harbor,” Johanson said.

“Sune had worked with Bert Frost years ago. He had Bert’s shop and then they built the big building and small store and office,” Johanson said. The approximately four-acre property fronting on Moosebec Reach includes the two boatbuilding structures as well as a 20-by-130-foot launch ramp, two deep-water moorings for boats of up to 45 feet and a three-bedroom house. Over the years the Noreen family added services including storage, wood and fiberglass repair, restoration, haul and launch service, showers and laundry, moorings, supplies, and rental apartments for visiting yacht crews.

Johanson also learned that Wilbur Yachts had been sold. The property had been purchased by a Southwest Harbor neighbor. Johanson promptly bought the entire machine shop, filling three tractor trailers, and one boat mold for a duck boat. “We’ll build one and see what happens,” he laughed.

Joe Lowell will be returning to Downeast Maine when he moves his boat shop

to the Shipyard from Yarmouth. Facebook photo.

Services offered at Jonesport Shipyard are already expanding. “Joe Lowell is moving his shop, Downeast Custom Boats, up from Yarmouth. I’ve got a young welder who will be working in the new welding and machine shop. A new guy at H&H will be doing wiring and electrical work. I know lots of people up and down the coast so if there’s a problem, I know who to call.”

Alonzo Alley will run the yard and oversee operations. Johanson’s wife, who retired from Eastern Maine Medical Center last September, is in charge of the business at the moment.

His aim is to build up a clientele of commercial fishermen who want to store their boats or have work done on them during the winter. Johanson knows that the word will get out eventually and hopes that the business builds up slowly and steadily. But underneath it all remains his dedication to ensuring Maine continues to have working waterfronts. “I bought it to protect it. For some people a million dollars is nothing. They could buy it and it all goes away,” he said. “A big chunk of Beals Island could come up in the next ten years. And then what?”


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