Boats bring meaning and beauty to daily life in Down East Maine

As a child, I was in love with tall trees. I guess today I still am.

Whether it’s a lone tree or one of thousands, trees are special because when I breathe, so are they.

The ocean bewitches me too. The waves come in and out and, depending on the mood of the day, resound either in a silent murmur or in a mighty roar. Either way, the certainty of their coming and going is a constant that I look forward to every day.

Then there are the boats, often the perfect mix of wood and water. The best thing to do after seeing the blue of the ocean here in Maine is to see it dotted with fishing boats moving out of reach, towards the islands and the horizon in search of their catch. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

For me, boats on the sea are wooden puzzle pieces on a board. The sea is the plank and the boats are the pieces that hold it all together and make it work. Long ago, wood was the only building material for the hulls of boats, ships, and just about anything that was useful and helpful to the people on board.

Today, fiberglass and other composite materials are used to form and shape the hulls of boats in an attempt to gain efficiency in terms of speed, safety and endurance. The new materials, which require less maintenance, allow sailors to push the limits in terms of performance and risk when plying their trade in open water. But just as LP vinyl has made a surprising comeback among audiophiles, wood has returned to purist sailors looking to skim blue waters on a gust of wind in a wooden boat.

My hope is that this return to yesterday’s materials lasts a long time. I believe the more wood you use on a boat, the closer you get to being part of it, or even what it used to be. Boats may never again be entirely made of wood like their ancestors were, but hopefully the compromise between wood and modern materials will continue to grow with the desire to have more wood in design. In the end, whatever the material chosen, one thing will remain a constant: a boat sitting on the water is a beautiful sight to behold.

Where I’m from in Pennsylvania, tractor-trailers are the boats of the highway. They are a constant on Interstates 80 and 95 and along the Lehigh and Delaware rivers where I grew up. With names like Peterbilt, Kenworth and, of course, Mack Trucks, they can’t be missed as they roll across the landscape.

Today I live on the coast of Maine where boats often transport goods and people. They too have names, but that will have to wait another day, although I will say that naming a boat is a task no angler takes lightly.

From Bucks Harbor to Cutler, Jonesport to Roque Bluffs, Eastport and beyond, boats can be seen every day. Not only do the boats look good, but many also provide the angler with a reliable ride every time they step aboard.

Imagine this image: boats sitting in a sheltered harbour, the first rays of the morning sun gently touching their bows, the mooring lines dripping with condensation as the fog slips in to say “hello”, gently touching the stern, while men and the boys on deck are getting ready for a day of hard work. This photo, seen with the first sip of coffee, always brings a smile.

I often think of when the very first Down East fisherman, whoever he was, saw his boat for the first time. He stood there and admired the beauty of its clean lines. It was a wooden boat, and it was named after something or someone he loved very much. He was rocking back and forth in the water as if waving hello.

Over his shoulder, unbeknownst to him, the trees were stretching to try to catch a glimpse of this craft of wood, this ship made of sweat and tears, to see one of their own transformed into something with purpose and purpose. specific beauty, with a name that reminds the captain every time he comes on board what life is really about.

Earnest A. Martinez