Notes from the Belfast waterfront

A clowder of cats (and a hidden Minnow)

Shipyard attracts multi-hulled boats, prepares for winter
By Ethan Andrews | Sep 23, 2017
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Workers at Front Street Shipyard wrapped the motor yacht Minnow in a plastic tent in anticipation of working into the winter.

Belfast — Catamarans are a niche minority among pleasure crafts, but you wouldn't know it from a sampling of the boats hauled out at Front Street Shipyard. The shipyard has become a magnet for multi-hulled boats because, as President JB Turner confirmed recently, it's one of the few yards around with a lift wide enough to pull them out of the water.

Beyond the regular twin-hulled catamarans, of which there are many of all sizes, the yard is host to at least one trimaran and a multi-hull that looks like a single-hull boat.

The gray composite shell of a boat, tied up near Three Tides, with four 350-horsepower outboard motors could be mistaken for a flat-bottom river boat. But there are two hulls at the waterline. The boat is a prototype for a new series of center console power catamarans the shipyard is building for Brevilla Boat Co.

Sometimes the more hulls there are, the better. The shipyard recently posted a photo on Facebook of a trimaran that was damaged by a submerged rock. The caption noted that it was kept afloat by the two hulls that weren't damaged.

Among the cats on the Belfast waterfront recently was Zenyatta, a Gunboat 62 owned by athenahealth co-founder and CEO Jonathan Bush. Capt. Troy Scott was aboard Sept. 15 with his dog Sunny. He met Bush 15 years ago through mutual friends and sailed all kinds of boats in the interim — "trimarans, schooners, dive boats …" he said. When Bush bought Zenyatta, he hired Scott, who lives in Camden, to replace the departed live-aboard captain.

The boat follows a well-traveled yacht circuit, spending summers in the coastal waters between Maine and Newport, Rhode Island, and winters in the Bahamas.

Zenyatta wasn't built specifically for racing, but Scott said he's seen it hit 26 knots under sail. "It's mostly a family cruiser, but we get to play race now and again," he said.

The biennial Newport-to-Bermuda race is allowing multihulls for the first time next year, and Scott said he's hoping to be there.

This the third year Zenyatta has been hauled out at Front Street Shipyard. The 14-year-old boat will be getting some more extensive maintenance over the winter, Scott said, including a paint job and other upgrades.

Cold weather tent

A large white, boat-shaped cocoon outside the shipyard's Building 5 has attracted a fair amount of public curiosity. Inside is an 88-foot Doggersbank motor yacht named Minnow.

Turner said the boat originally came in to have its small stabilizer fins replaced with larger ones. Doing so required cutting out a portion of the steel hull, which workers quickly learned would also entail cutting the water tank all the way across the boat.

"That was the original plan," Turner said.

Later the owner decided the hull could use a paint job, and Turner started thinking about winter.

A wooden armature was constructed in undercuts of the hull and the entire package was shrink-wrapped in opaque white plastic. When the weather gets cold enough, the interior will be heated. Turner said plastic tents like this are common in the South where they are air conditioned.

Trailer for two ships

Corwith Cramer emerged from Building 5 this week on a trailer customer assembled for the massive 134-foot sail-training schooner. The boat was scheduled to have its masts stepped midweek in preparation for launch Friday afternoon, Sept 22.

After moving Corwith Cramer, the trailer will be used to bring in Atlantide, a storied 122-foot, steel-hulled motor yacht built in 1930. Turner said the boat is spending the winter in Belfast, as it did last year.

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