Fiberglass Friendship Pioneer Returns to Roots — With Wood



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Famed Friendship sloop champion Jarvis Newman of Southwest Harbor has begun refurbishing the original wooden 25-foot Friendship sloop that launched his career in the fiberglass boatbuilding industry.

 

Southwest Harbor boatbuilder Jarvis Newman, who pioneered making Maine’s famous Friendship sloops out of fiberglass, works in his shop to restore an original wooden Friendship christened Old Baldy. The vessel was used to create a mold for the first Newman fiberglass sloops. — ISLANDER PHOTO BY EMERSON WHITNEY
Southwest Harbor boatbuilder Jarvis Newman, who pioneered making Maine’s famous Friendship sloops out of fiberglass, works in his shop to restore an original wooden Friendship christened Old Baldy. The vessel was used to create a mold for the first Newman fiberglass sloops. — ISLANDER PHOTO BY EMERSON WHITNEY

Old Baldy, a Pemaquid model built in 1965 by Jim Rockefeller of Bald Mountain Boat Works, has been drydocked in a New Hampshire barn for the last 10 years, changing hands several times before landing back with Mr. Newman.

In 1965, Mr. Rockefeller introduced Mr. Newman to the original owners of Old Baldy, who inquired about winter storage and service.

“The story goes like this: I said, ‘Let’s do it this way. I will haul your boat, maintain it for you, winterize it, completely repaint it – which it didn’t even need,’” Mr. Newman added. “If I can use it to make a mold.”

The owners happily agreed and the first ever fiberglass mold of a Friendship sloop was made.

“Forty years later, I’ve got her back in my shop,” Mr. Newman said.

“I’ve been inquiring about this boat for years. Friends of mine owned her and then all of a sudden it’s up for sale. I went down to New Hampshire, looked at it, and bought it immediately.”

Already Mr. Newman has cleaned the engine compartment, repainted the cabin, refinished the masts, and repaired and re-epoxied the deck.

“She’ll be like new when we’re done,” Mr. Newman said. “People laugh when they hear my name connected with wood. I’m a glass person, but I have lots of experience with all kinds of boats. I am not anti-wood.”

A vintage photo of Old Baldy emerging from its mold has place of pride in the storefront of Newman Marine, the family boat brokerage business in Southwest Harbor. The photo is a clipping from National Fisherman magazine, which featured Mr. Newman’s mold and first fiberglass Friendship on its cover in 1968.

For more maritime news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

 

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