TREMONT — Alan Sprague, boatbuilder and co-host of the radio show Boat Talk, has been rebuilding a bit of Mount Desert Island history with his work on a 30-foot Hinckley Sou’wester junior.
It was the very first boat that Henry Hinckley, founder of Hinckley Yachts, had built by his own company for his personal use.
The vessel still carries the original moniker, Jaan, bestowed upon her by Mr. Hinckley. The boat is named Jaan, a name that Mr. Hinckley would put on all of the subsequent boats he had built for himself. “This is Jaan number one,” Mr. Sprague said.
Mr. Sprague mentioned in passing to Hank Hinckley, Henry’s third son, that he was doing some restoration work on Jaan, Hank exclaimed, “Oh my god, I learned how to sail on that boat!”
Jaan was reintroduced to the waters off of Mount Desert Island on April 19 at the Tremont town landing in Bernard.
The hull was actually the 15th hull of that Sou’wester 30 design and was built in 1964. She plied the waves surrounding MDI under Mr. Hinckley’s hand for many years before heading south.
“The boat went south quite a few years ago – both definitions of going south,” Mr. Sprague said. “It just sold last year.”
The owner, Tim Harris, bought the boat from an Atlanta resident who had sailed it primarily on Lake Lanier in Georgia. “The guy decided when he wanted to sell it that there was a better market here than down in Georgia,” Mr. Harris said. “So he put it in a truck and shipped it all the way up to the Hinckley brokerage and it sat in their shed for a little while. I saw it online and we negotiated for awhile and came up to see it and bought it.”
Mr. Sprague has undertaken most of the work, but he has had help from a variety of people to get her ready for Mr. Harris. The work began in November at Al Pettigrow’s boat yard in Southwest Harbor.
Mr. Harris himself has been putting in some time in the restoration as well. “I took the fuel tank out and steam cleaned it; replaced some hoses,” Mr. Harris said. “There is a long list of projects that we did over the winter.”
The big project was the toerails, according to Mr. Sprague. “It originally had little square toe rails. Tim wanted to upgrade to the Hinckley style, which are taller and narrower. They are tall at the front and they sweep back.
“A little bit of sweep instead of sheer,” said David Irving, the marine surveyor responsible for linking Mr. Harris and Mr. Sprague for the restoration.
Mark Tubbs also played a pivotal role in the job, providing both a significant amount of varnishing and helping with the rigging.
There were also installations of new electronics, wiring, running lights, and some mechanical work done while Jaan was in the shop. “Alan did a fabulous job,” said Mr. Harris.
Mr. Harris took advantage of an April vacation to come up to MDI and get Jaan back in the water. “I took care of the kids over February vacation,” said Mr. Harris. “My wife said she would take care of the kids this vacation and I could come up here and take care of the boat. She is awesome.”
For now the boat will stay in Maine, but eventually may do some venturing south.
“I think my wife and I are going to cruise Maine a little bit for the summer then take her down to Boston for part of the season,” Mr. Harris said. “My hope is to bring her back up here at the end of the year and store her here again. I want to keep her up here over the winters and spend some time up here and some time in Boston.”
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