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A taste of ‘the way life should be’

Annual Maine boat and coastal living show featured an in-depth look at the workings of a Back Cove 34


“Awesome.” “Intriguing.” “Cool.” “Best display in the show.” “Now I know why a modern boat costs so much.”

Those were some of the reactions from visitors ages 6 to 80-plus who took the time to study the systems, wiring and precise engineering of a Back Cove 34 — the kind of stuff normally hidden beneath the deck and superstructure. The partially built Down East-style cruiser was taken off the company’s Rockland, Maine, production line and displayed, with all components clearly labeled, at the Under the Hood exhibit Aug. 10-12 at the 10th annual Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show on the Rockland harborfront. Two days later, the yacht’s deck was installed, and within a week, it was delivered to its customer.

“This exhibit is fantastic. I’ve only seen an engine room in the dark before,” says Dave Mankus, who drove from New Hampshire to see Under the Hood. “This is a state-of-the-art efficient layout of all systems — self-contained like a space shuttle.”

A completed Back Cove 34 was among 100 boats from more than 30 builders lining the harborfront and 2,200 feet of show docks at Maine’s only in-water boat show. The builders showed off finely crafted vessels, including kayaks and canoes, stylish runabouts and luxury power yachts, sailing dinghies and an 83-foot 1924 Fife schooner impeccably restored by Rockport Marine. Most of the exhibitors work in Maine and elsewhere in New England, but Canada, the Great Lakes states, California and South Dakota also were represented.

Although boats predominate, 5 acres ashore featured everything for the coastal Maine lifestyle — docks and insurance, homebuilders and sustainable energy, jewelry, fine art and custom furniture. Food, live music, children’s activities and the zany World Championship Boatyard Dog Trials kept everyone happy. There was no smiling guy trailed by a frowning wife and fussy kids at this boat show.


As envisioned by show founder John K. Hanson Jr., 61, founder and publisher of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine, the festival celebrates the “creativity, talent and diversity of the craftspeople who exemplify the Maine virtues of hard work, self-sufficiency, do it yourself and do it well,” Hanson says. “For 10 years this show has shared the joy of coastal Maine living with 100,000 visitors, as the magazine has done for 25 years.”

The 275-plus exhibitors, who provide liability insurance and pay $5.50 to $7 a square foot for dockage and $515 to $2,000 for a covered shore display, find a “high-quality show drawing high-quality buyers — polite, knowledgeable boat owners who know what they’re looking for and at,” says John Hendricks, senior broker at Hunt Yachts of Portsmouth, R.I.

Hunt, one of 31 companies that have exhibited at each of the 10 Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors shows, displayed 52-, 36- and 25-foot boats this year. “The show has a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere with a high-quality, diverse selection of marine-related products and equipment,” Hendricks says. “It’s not crowded, so visitors get a broker’s undivided attention. In town are the Farnsworth Art Museum, nice restaurants and good places to stay.”

The Hinckley Company, of Southwest Harbor, Maine, also participating in its 10th Rockland show, displayed its new Talaria 34. “We believe in supporting Maine’s best efforts,” Hinckley vice president of sales Philip Bennett says. “This is more than a boat show. It’s a slice of Maine, where people come to admire goods made by the people in front of them. Visitors appreciate this authenticity … and we exhibitors appreciate visitors who are seriously interested in what’s offered, not just looking for a deal.”

“Crafted in the Maine Tradition,” the guiding principle of Sabre Yachts and Back Cove Yachts of Casco, Maine, resonates with customers globally. “This show is a marvelous opportunity to show the world what Maine boatbuilders can do,” says Bentley Collins, vice president of marketing and sales for both brands. The Sabre 38 Salon Express debuted at the show.

Throughout the foggy weekend, C.W. Hood, of Marblehead, Mass., another 10-year exhibitor, gave more than 90 demo rides in its new 32-foot daysailer with electric sail drive.

The sluggish economy worries some exhibitors, but most agree with show founder Hanson, who says, “In terms of energy and feedback, we had the best show in years.”

Hinckley’s Bennett offers an explanation for the positive attendance, sales, post-show demos and winter work contracts. “People now have ‘frugality fatigue’ and are getting on with their lives, buying quality items with intrinsic value,” including new and used Hinckleys.

Many show-goers are Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors subscribers. Surveys say they are “mature … have a $282,000 average income, net worth of $4.5-plus million … [and purchase] yachts, custom furniture, art and gorgeous homes.”

They can do all of that here, perusing large and small companies that support Hanson’s vision and enjoy the camaraderie of this family festival. The show, the magazine and the website all celebrate Maine as the American Eden, the “way life should be led,” Hanson says, “in print, online, in person.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue.



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