Heritage Boatworks: My Newest Favorite Podcast

Yes, I am crazy about podcasts, especially if they center around sailing and boats. This is a narrow field so I take what I can get. You can find a number of them on iTunes that have faded long ago and it’s a happy day when a new one emerges.  I am well pleased with my latest find. Heritage Boatworks by Jed Lavoie is dedicated to gathering stories of New England boatbuilders. Having spent time sailing Down East my interest is piqued by the mention of familiar names and places that needle my nascent memory. This podcast makes me feel the way bright colored autumn leaves affect me in my current evergreen dominant situation. The seven episodes produced thus far have been right on Jed’s stated mission and the future looks good as well.

As a rule first episodes of podcasts are distinctly at the low end of the hosts learning curve. Jed managed a rather good start with an introduction to himself and what he was up to with his personal incursion into new media. He comes off as a regular guy with a passion for boats that he fits into the life of a family man as best he can. Not a professional boatbuilder himself, he is an avid amateur and displays a knowledge of the craft gleaned from a life long enthusiasm for nautical history and sailing. In other words he is a real Seaward Adventures sort of guy.

Heritage Boatworks has featured some very interesting guests. Graham McKay at Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury, MA, Heidi Reid at Stur-Dee Boat Company in Tiverton, RI, Roger Crawford at Crawford Boat Building in Humarock, MA, and Geoff Marshall at Marshall Marine in South Dartmouth, MA. It was a treat to get a verbal tour of Lowell’s Boat Shop with it’s history of building dories that sailed on the legendary Grand Banks schooners. Lowell’s is a living museum dedicated to simple wooden craft that have given utility and pleasure to many people on the water since 1793.

Roger Crawford spoke of his years building and selling traditional Melonseed skiffs. His enthusiasm for the design made me want to go sailing now. Like NOW! The man is a real promoter of traditional methods of building that bring substance to soft technology. His website has a great series on his favorite shop tools that is well worth reading no matter what your level of experience is.

Jed is the proud owner of a Marshall Sanderling Catboat. It is a type of boat that he dreamed of for many years. The Marshalls have always been on my list of desirable watercraft. I used to visit their booth at the Annapolis Boat Show every year and am thoroughly familiar with the Sanderling. Jed’s interview with Geoff Marshall was kind of call back to my own daydreams. I am sure that I talked with Geoff a few times in the past. Had I not purchased my Seaward23 I am sure that a Marshall catboat would have been my sailboat of choice.


Jed Lavoie’s 18 foot Marshall Sanderling catboat.

By far my favorite episode was the one with Heidi Reid. More than an interview it was a conversation between friends. Jed’s second boat was a 14 foot Stur-Dee Cat. He bought it used and did some fix up work on the boat that included replacing the cockpit coamings. He went right to the builder for advice on the operation and as the story is told one gets the sense that the company welcomed it’s customers into their family. Stur-Dee boats are a legacy shepherded by Heidi whose father Ernie Gavin is gone but not forgotten. the company has survived a devastating fire in 1988 and the passing of it’s founder. the spirit of Ernie Gavin is hard-wired into the hearts of his daughter and granddaughter who make no compromises on quality and continue to uphold a brand that has always enjoyed a sterling reputation. The interview had genuine human emotion that was very moving.

14 foot Stur-Dee cat Marconi rig catboat

14 foot Stur-Dee cat Marconi rig catboat

Jed is off to a very good start with his enterprise. There is much to look forward to. He is located in the rich heartland of New England boatbuilding which should be a grand source of more great interviews.  I like having a ready source of fodder for my own daydreams. It is a pleasure to welcome this kindred spirit who has a passion for sailing and an authentic voice.

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