a visit to wilbur yachts

Wilbur Yachts, Southwest Harbor, Maine

In an earlier post I mused about who of sound mind would plan an RV trip in the middle of a 1,300 mile boat delivery. As it turns out, we did.

There’s what you plan and then there’s what happens

Back in February my wife and I hatched a plan to rent an RV to take to Maine on a late summer vacation. We locked down RV sites months in advance. When Summer came we put our non-refundable deposit down on the RV. In late July fate intervened when we saw a 1981 Wilbur 38’ for sale online. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we bought it. Eventually plans came together to begin moving her from Sarasota, FL to her new home on the Chesapeake Bay. We got as far as Stuart where I left the boat in very capable hands before I returned home to commence our long awaited RV adventure. We reasoned that since the boat was safe, and because we didn’t want to forfeit the RV deposit, that we’d proceed with the trip.

Upon leaving DC, our rented land yacht took us in air-suspensioned comfort to points North. Some days later we arrived at our destination, Acadia Seashore RV park. We chose this place, and our specific site within the park, after thoroughly poring over satellite imagery. It had it all… a waterfront site with a spectacular view over to Mt Desert Isle. When we chose the site in February it was hibernating under freezing drifts of snow. Now, in early September, the grass was green, the daytime breezes were warm and the nights were cool – perfect for campfires. The calls of loons and geese drifted up from the water. It was idyllic. One fateful day soon after we arrived, we sat by the RV while I gazed around doing nothing, a skill I have refined to near mastery over the years. Darcy, ever the planner, pored over a map to pick places we should see. There was Acadia Park to tour, of course, but she is always on the lookout to find interesting places. Suddenly, as her pointed index finger vigorously tapped the map she exclaimed “Wilbur Yachts!” To which I responded intelligently, “umm… what?”

Acadia Seashore RV Park

If this were a movie documentary instead of a blog post, this would be the point where the narrator’s dulcet tones soberly describe the scene: “Matt, a professional yacht broker with years of experience, sat in that camp chair and flushed with embarrassment upon realizing he didn’t know the builder of the boat he just bought was located just a few miles away in Southwest Harbor on the other side of Mt Desert Isle.”

I promptly called the yard and spoke with Wilbur Yachts head honcho John Kachmar who graciously invited me to stop by the next day. When I arrived, John greeted me and showed me to his office where he produced a yellowed 3 inch thick manila folder containing all the records from our boat’s design and build process. Letters, both hand written and typed, bills of material, invoices, drawings… I was like a kid in a candy store and wanted to run out of there laughing like mad while clutching this gold mine to my chest. John, seeing my expression chuckled and said ‘You can’t have that folder’. No matter. He was generous with his time and allowed me to take photos of a bunch of the files. As a former student of yacht design/naval architecture I was fascinated, especially with the drawings, having a passing familiarity with the amount of work that went into them. Today, with a few mouse clicks, a yacht designer can show you what your vessel will look like from any angle anchored offshore Fiji during the sunset in 3D. In 1980, someone had to bend over a drafting table for hours and painstakingly draw on vellum, with pencil, scale, ducks and splines the profile and accommodation plan you see here. To me, this drawing is a museum piece. It gave me pause to realize we now owned what began as an idea drawn 42 years ago. As I carefully folded the drawing and returned it to its file, I simultaneously felt joy coupled with an acute sense of responsibility.

profile and accommodation plan

Serendipity, I suppose. Without taking this oddly timed RV trip we wouldn’t have had this incredible visit with John and Wilbur Yachts. The romantic in me wants to believe it, but it’s a stretch to say that experiences like this mean ‘we were meant to buy the boat’. However, these are the anecdotes that feed and enrich the boat loving soul. They ratchet up the emotional investment we make when we acquire them. They remind us to enjoy every bit of our time aboard. They also remind us that we are caretakers, that boats like these not only need but deserve proper care in order to age gracefully for future generations to enjoy. And as it turns out, that’s just our plan.

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