Lots of boats have been launched from the Washburn & Doughty East Boothbay facility.
But my first boatyard experience with the company was on the banks of the Kennebec River in Woolwich.
A commercial fishing vessel, Jacqueline Robin, was being built outdoors. It was a pretty bare bones operation, and in the winter, really cold.
Ray Cronk, then a sort of marketing person for W & D, needed some photos for trade shows. He lined me up with the big boss for a visit, so I headed over to Woolwich to see what I could see.
For me, at that time, the closest thing to a railway I recalled was in Altoona, Pennsylvania, action central for the Pennsylvania Railroad, a line that eventually ran right behind my grandmother's house in Clearfield.
Mr. Peabody's coal train lumbered right up the main street of town two or three times a day and nobody paid it much mind, except me, of course. I loved the steam turbine sound and the whistle.
But it wasn't a Maine marine railway.
And back there, in Pennsylvania, nobody could have imagined an 800-ton tugboat sliding backwards down a wooden ramp. It takes a lot of wood, solid engineering and moxie to make that work, and you don't get a second chance.
Marine railway components include “Greenheart” from South America, for pilings. 12” by 12” by 24 ft. oak beams, long bolts, a diver, cranes, drills and heavy steel, well coordinated and precisely combined. And a crew of skilled knowledgeable workers. Skip Rideout, Larry Colcord, Robbie and Al, of Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, along with crew and equipment from PROCK marine, have tackled the project, which I photographed three weeks ago.
A new boat will test the ways later this month, with more to come.