Dinner with the Hinckleys: How family, crew, and culture made a world-class brand

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Gwen Hinckley practically had a bed-and-breakfast going for the clients, friends, and tradespeople associated with the boatbuilding firm of her husband, Henry Rose Hinckley II. “If you were able to find some of the old customers, they’d laugh about staying with Henry and Gwen,” says Hank Hinckley, their youngest child. “Dad would get up and […]

War boats, draggers, sportfishermen, trawler-yachts: Bink Sargent navigates a diverse career

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In 1937, Lennox “Bink” Sargent took a break from his studies in engineering at Harvard University, and from his summer internships with Boston naval architect A. Loring Swazey, to work for Henry Hinckley, a distant in-law who rehabilitated and was expanding a boatyard his father bought in 1927. Sargent was a young man of 20 […]

Fisherman Laurence Newman: Snow, fog, “whatever, we went out and set the trawls”

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So there I am at the Southwest Harbor Public Library, stumbled across a trove of oral history cassette tapes recorded under library auspices in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. I was trying to find a videotaped interview, I knew existed, with father-and-son wooden boatbuilding duo Ralph and Richard Stanley. Thus the exploratory visit to the […]

Eugene Walls stopped by Bob Rich’s shop, stayed 21 years

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In the spring of 1946, Eugene “Gene” Walls went down to Robert “Bobby” Rich’s boatbuilding operation, Bass Harbor Boat, in the seaside village of Bernard. Walls was recently returned from the war, during which he served in the Navy, operating landing crafts in the Pacific Theater. In the way of close communities, Walls and Rich […]

O Richtown brothers, where art ye? Searching for a long-past boatbuilding clan, with digressions

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 WEST TREMONT – Wooden boatbuilder Richard Stanley, his wife Lorraine, and I are sitting in the cockpit of the 1902 Friendship sloop Westwind, a multi-year restoration project that is up on jackstands in his shop. The scent of sawdust is in the air. I ask Richard about his influences as a youngster, how he learned […]

Conundrum meets wit: Rich and Grindle build boats in a barn

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  SOUTHWEST HARBOR – Roger Rich and his friend Ralph Grindle founded Rich & Grindle Boatbuilders in 1946, building boats in Rich’s barn at Tracy Cove on Clark Point Road in Southwest Harbor. The two men were in their early 30s and had been working for Henry Hinckley, who had major boatbuilding contracts with the […]

Adequate: A Bunker and Ellis gem, an admirer’s fulfillment

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 Rod Lucas had never really thought of buying his own powerboat. Thanks to his mother’s outdoorsy nature and his grandmother’s summer home on the Southwest Harbor shore, he grew up with a love of sailing and cruising. But as a young man in the 1950s, he began a career in the budding industry of building […]

Bunker and Ellis: How two men played pool and became boatbuilding icons

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  “We worked nights, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, even Christmas,” Raymond Bunker said in 1979, not long after his 32-year partnership with Ralph Ellis ended. “Often, we worked until nine o’clock or midnight, just the two of us, and we sometimes built four boats in a winter.” Bunker and Ellis were in their 30s when they […]

The Esther II: A father’s boat, a son’s heart


 TREMONT –  Back in the 1940s and ‘50s, Charles Orville Trask used to set out from Bass Harbor and head 20 miles offshore to lobster fish and tub-trawl for hake around Mount Desert Rock, Great Duck Island, and Frenchboro. Trask used to be an assistant sales manager for Ditto, Inc., in Chicago, pre-photocopier. He was […]