BROOKLIN — Talented boatbuilders are thick on the ground in Maine and, with a little hunting, it’s almost always possible to find some shop working on an interesting project.
It could be a multimillion-dollar sailing yacht or sport fisherman, a commercial lobster boat with a finish that would make any yachtsman happy, a handcrafted wooden skiff perfect for the lake or even a birch bark canoe.
In eastern Maine, Brooklin bills itself as “the boatbuilding capital of the world” and while that may be an exaggeration, the tiny town on the shores of Eggemoggin Reach does seem to turn out a disproportionate number of fascinating boats for its size.
Earlier this summer, the boat design and building partnership of Doug Hylan and Ellery Brown added to the running total with Gatsby.
An elegant, outboard-powered launch, Gatsby reflects close collaboration among the boat’s knowledgeable owner, an experienced and distinguished designer in Hylan and a skilled team of boatbuilders led by Brown.
Showing the boat at the Maine Boats and Harbors boat show in Rockland earlier this month, Brown said Gatsby’s owner was an experienced boater and avid fisherman but new to Maine waters. His experience aboard a wide variety of sport fishing boats informed his decision making throughout the design and construction process.
A Texas resident, the boat’s owner has purchased property in Rockland, where Gatsby will be homeported during the boating season.
As are many custom-built boats, Gatsby is more evolutionary than revolutionary.
According to Brown, the new boat’s hull is substantially the same as two earlier Hylan designs, the 26-foot V-bottom launch Top Hat and its cruising version, Bowler, yet each of those boats is unique, with different sheer heights and main bulkhead locations.
Gatsby features a raised foredeck, flaring bow, tumblehome stern and a gently radiused transom to either side of the cutout for her 115-horsepower Yamaha outboard. Her sheer has been lowered to give the boat a jauntier profile and the main bulkhead was moved forward to provide a capacious, and surprisingly luxurious cockpit accentuated by a raked windshield forward that fairs into a continuous coaming that curves around the cockpit’s after end.
Forward, beneath the raised foredeck, there are simple overnight accommodations for two including a v-berth with storage beneath and a concealed head.
Gatsby’s cockpit has been designed to provide maximum comfort and elegance in a boat of its size. With fore and aft seat consoles on either side of the companionway and a curved settee aft, the boat can seat as many as eight in the cockpit, which also has a built-in refrigerator and space for a drop-in mahogany table aft.
Invisible when the boat is in the water, the hull’s narrow twisting v-bottom transitions from a fine entry at the bow to a moderately flat run aft. The result is a fuel-efficient, semi-planing boat with good sea-keeping abilities for the relatively sheltered waters in which she’ll be used.
Gatsby has an overall length of 26 feet 6 inches, a beam of 7 feet 11 inches, and draws 17 inches. Her displacement is 3,400 pounds. According to Brown, with her 115-horsepower Yamaha outboard, Gatsby can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour.