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All in a day’s work: Hauling a 91-foot boat deck from Rockport to Brooklin

Posted:  Monday, October 9, 2017 - 4:00pm

Early last spring, on May 4, crews at Rockport Marine gently pulled a new 91-foot cold-molded hull from the shed and lowered it into Rockport Harbor. Brad and Adam Scott, two brothers who own Two Harbor Marine, then towed it across Penobscot Bay and down Eggemoggin Reach to Brooklin Boat Yard, where boatbuilders over there would finish the new sloop.

Five months later, the deck for that sailboat came out of the Rockport shed early on a Sunday morning, Oct. 8.

This time, a large flatbed from Brooklin Boat Yard would move the boat’s deck along Route 1 to Route 15, from Rockport to Brooklin, with two state police vehicles as escorts. It’s no easy jog, given the curves and dips of Maine’s rural roads, especially through Rockport Village, and then down the Blue Hill peninsula.

But it was all in a day’s – or two year’s – work, putting this sailboat together, and keeping Rockport and Brooklin builders on the job.

The vessel, 91.4 feet in length, is under construction for a 94-year-old sailor, who lives in Florida. Bruce Johnson is the designer, and Brooklin Boat Yard has a nice rendering of what it will look like when finished.

The owner, Bert Phelps, lives in Florida, and this is the third vessel he has had built at Brooklin Boat Yard.

“They are fantastic builders,” he said, speaking over the phone from his Florida home in May. 

His last vessel was a 70-foot sloop, Sonny, which had been designed by Dieter Empacher and built at Brooklin Boat Yard. There is an interesting story behind Sonny, because Phelps donated that vessel to Maine Maritime Academy. But he missed Sonny so much that he had a replica built, the Sonny II. Read that account by Art Paine at

That was in 2013. More recently, however, Phelps wanted something even more comfortable that would take him through his sunset years on the water, but with plenty of performance (He used to race to Halifax and Bermuda, so you know he loves a fast boat).

“Since I was born, I was on sailboats,” he said, describing how his father had introduced him to sailing off of City Island, in New York City, and Essex and Fairfield, Connecticut.

All of his father’s boats had been named Sonny, so it is par for the course that this new sloop will also be named Sonny.

“I had a sunny disposition,” said Phelps, a longtime commercial real estate developer, who said he got into that business because he enjoyed building with blocks in kindergarten.  

And with every new boat he gets built, he helps refine a thing or two with the design.

“Sailing is in my blood,” he said. “You’re out in the air, with the motion of the sea. Every moment is new, and the scenery changes all the time.”

He’s excited about this new boat.

“At my age, I don’t know how much I’ll keep going,” he said.

According to Brooklin Boat Yard, the latest Phelps’ vessel is to be delivered in Spring 2018.

Sonny III’s hull was built last winter at Rockport Marine, and represents the ongoing collaboration between Brooklin Boat Yard, Rockport Marine, and Front Street Shipyard in Belfast.

 Updates on the boat’s construction are on Brooklin Boat Yard’s Facebook page.

Brooklin Boat Yard Custom 91’ Specifications
Length overall  91’-4”
Length waterline 74’-5”
Beam (max) 19’-0”
Draft 10’-0”
Displacement (lightship) 122500 lbs
Ballast 42770 lbs
Sail Area 3500 sq ft
Propulsion Cummins 6.7-liter diesel 301 hp