These Duffy 26-foot launches shipped to a Florida resort on Nov. 17. With four orders this year, Brooklin-based Atlantic Boat Co. is having a far different year than during the start of the pandemic. ATLANTIC BOAT CO. PHOTO

Atlantic Boat Co. sees increased demand for Duffy 26-foot launches

BROOKLIN — Not one but four Duffy 26-foot launches were built at Atlantic Boat Co. this year in a breakout year for the Brooklin-based boatbuilders. Two of the four launches were shipped to Florida on Nov. 17, where they will ferry passengers at a Boca Raton resort, a new customer base for the boatyard.

“It is unusual,” boatbuilder Jonathan Chase said of the four orders that came in. “We usually do one at a time, sometimes two.”

Three of the four boats are destined for Florida resorts. The fourth is headed for a Portland yacht club. All are built to meet Coast Guard specifications for carrying passengers.

Atlantic Boat Co.’s Duffys are based on the Downeast lobster boat. The workboat design — a built-down, semi-displacement hull — makes them less likely to roll and tip than other boats, Chase said. “The way it’s shaped, it displaces water, so it doesn’t draw in a lot.”

The design also has the bow higher than the stern so it “swoops down kind of as a smile,” Chase said. “The higher the sheer, the more underway the water is pushed away from the boat at high speeds.”

These boats are not meant to travel more than 11 to 12 knots, he added, but these four can reach 14 knots.

“It will be there if they need it,” Chase said, adding that with a full load of passengers, that highest speed is likely out of reach.

As eye candy, the tumblehome design means the hull tips in instead of flaring out, giving the boat a more rounded look from the back, a design more common to yachts than work boats.

“As a custom boatbuilder, we can go into any of the latest and greatest,” Chase added. “We offer full enclosure tops, and a few are going with a full canvas side and everything.”

And a big appeal is that the boats are easy to use and low maintenance.

“These are very simple boats,” electrician Malcom Howes said. “What the yacht yards and the shuttle companies really like about this boat is they’re extremely maneuverable.”

The boatyard ran sea trials on the two Duffys just shipped, adding ballast weight “to keep them from rolling and rocking,” Howes said. This is crucial when carrying up to two dozen passengers. The Coast Guard certification to carry passengers is required, even if it means a lot more work.

The Duffy 26-foot launchers are one of the few boats under 30 feet the Coast Guard will certify for that purpose, Howe added.

And especially gratifying to the boatbuilders are the three orders from the Florida resorts, since Duffys are built in that state, too.

The Duffys are Atlantic Boat Co.’s bread and butter, Chase said, and the sale of three to resorts should open a gateway to selling more.

“It’s a fairly new market,” Chase said. “They’re mostly for yacht clubs, so it’s good to see them going to resorts, especially from the east coast of Maine.”

After an idle pandemic year at the boatyard, when no buyers would commit to boats, the flurry of orders means all hands are on deck, General Manager Traci Astbury said. “Right off the bat this year, we had the four booked. And the fact we’re a crew of 12 full-timers, the fact they pulled off four of these builds, is pretty incredible. Normally they would be a six- to eight-month build each.”

Supply chain issues threw a monkey wrench in at times, she said, but ordering parts early helped. “But having said that, the parts didn’t come in that early. The fact that we were able to get them in in time was pretty fortunate.”

The boatyard may receive another commitment, this time for a large 42-foot Duffy meant as a research vessel in Massachusetts, but Astbury said right now, the potential buyers are circling around.

“Plus, we store 100 boats,” she added. “It’s been an all-men-on-deck sort of situation.”

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]
Anne Berleant

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