John Kerry’s latest purchase irks U.S. boatbuilders

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New England boatbuilders are upset with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for buying a $7 million New Zealand-built yacht while local builders struggle to find work.

"Darn, that would have been a wonderful job for a Maine builder," Jane Wellehan, president of the trade group Maine Built Boats, told the Boston Herald. "If someone comes to build a $7 million boat, that would employ half the population of some towns for a year or two. Boatbuilding is such a critical component of our coastal economy."

Gregory Egan, who owns the Crosby Yacht Yard in Osterville, Mass., said Bay State boatbuilders must feel cut adrift by Kerry as well.

"I'm confident that anything constructed in New Zealand could be constructed here in the state," he said. "From a political perspective, it seems to me he could have thought twice about that one."

News that Kerry was docking the 76-foot custom sloop in Newport, R.I., was first reported Friday in the Herald. Sources told the newspaper the yacht cost $7 million, meaning Kerry would owe the state more than $500,000 in excise and sales taxes.

"The message is, 'The American boatbuilders aren't good enough and the Massachusetts people aren't good enough to maintain it.' It's just a bad message all around," said Connecticut boater Steve Potter, who docks in Charlestown, Mass.

When asked to respond to criticism of Kerry's decision not to buy American, his state director Drew O'Brien said: "When it comes to creating and preserving jobs and economic opportunity in Massachusetts, no one has worked harder in Washington than John Kerry. Sen. Kerry is using smarts, clout and good old-fashioned hard work to make the Massachusetts economy grow and prosper."

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