Monday, November 19, 2012

Accessorize Your Boat This Winter

I just returned from a buying trip at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.  Our marine wholesaler, Kellogg Marine, puts on a convention there every year.  Companies with names like Seadog, Seachoice, Kwiktec, Garmin, Minnkota, Taco, and a gazillion others set up cool little booths with the newest and flashiest jewelry that you can add to your boat. 

The technology available today really lets you customize a boat so that you can be one-of-a-kind out on the water. 

LED lighting has been available in some shape or form for quite awhile, but the application of easy to install indirect lighting is pretty new and innovative.  If you spend some time on the water at night you know how inky black it can get, so lighting up the floor, the water around you, or storage compartments is practical and just plain cool.  Attwood's LED tape lighting is easy to install and can help you from stumbling around in the dark:

Underwater lighting may be the quickest way to throw a dock party and meet new friends.  It also makes boarding at night safer.  Check out this great picture of underwater transom lighting:

 The most impressive new technology has to be Humminbird's new 360 system.  Everyone loves the idea of going fishing, but if you're like me...that doesn't necessarily mean "catching".  I don't care what type of species you prefer...stripers, bass, trout, salmon, blue fish, tuna, or sharks.  The new 360 system is going to allow you to reel in A LOT more fish.   The system replaces the need for a traditional transducer that marks fish in the water column.  Instead the 360 system deploys a puck on a staff below the waterline to provide a radar-like picture of what is below your boat.  I was able to see screen shots of schools of fish on an upcoming bank.  That means you can actually see where the fish are before the boat gets there!  You can cast at schools of fish before you pass by and spook them.  I can't wait to try it.  We'll have demo systems here as soon as February.

Humminbird technology showing a 3D picture of a Sunken Sailboat 
Maybe you don't like to attact passerbys with transom lighting, or sneak up on unsuspecting fish.  Maybe you are an adrenaline freak that likes to get pulled behind a boat with a big V8.  If so, you should maybe check out the Poparazzi towable from Sportstuff.

Whatever you like to do on the water, I bet we have what you need at Hamlin's Marine.  Come in and see us!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Simple Boat Restoration

Years ago, I made a business error.  You see, part of my responsibility as a business owner is to make money.  That way I am able to hire employees, buy equipment, and stock boats that people will buy.  Well one August many years ago, I made an emotional decision that ended up being very expensive.  I took a 1960 26' Mackenzie Cutty Hunk in trade toward a new boat on our lot.  Initially, it looked like a fine decision.  I even took a video to showcase the beautiful boat.  See for yourself...

Looks good, right?  I thought so anyway. 

The events that followed can only be described as catastrophic.  Back then I knew a little bit about boats of the fiberglass or aluminum variety, but I had not had the pleasure of working with our grandparents' material of choice...wood. 

Wood is romantic you know.  Reminds me of simpler times when people had time to hang out on a mooring and apply coats of varnish without being interrupted by a smart phone.

The problem with wood is that it needs care and love.  The Mackenzie Cuttyhunk is a classic and has a distinctive lapstrake wooden bottom.  If you've watched the video, you'll notice the bottom of the boat was smooth.  Hmmm...that's weird.  That's because the boat had previously been repaired by sanding down the lapstrakes and applying fiberglass to the bottom. 

So, I learned that I didn't have an original example of the classic Mackenzie, but surely someone (including myself at the time) would be proud to own it as a seaworthy vessel. 

That was until I backed the boat onto our newly installed radiant-heat floor.  By the way, don't put a wooden boat on a heated concrete floor.  Bad things will happen including a thing called may have heard of it.  The only way to fix contraction is to put her back in the water, and let her swell.  Not only did our poor Mackenzie experience contraction, but her bottom fell off exposing the sanded, lapstrake bottom.  

What happened next?  I met with the few wooden boat experts still alive and agile enough to inspect my specimen.  They were all excited about the possibilities, and I heard more opinions than what you'd find in the New York Times editorial section.  One thing was was going to cost a lot of time and money to put her back on the water. 

Until now, the Mackenzie has been a constant reminder for me to always do my homework. My daughter, now 4, was given Mackenzie as her middle name.  I think I've moved the boat around the yard a hundred times now.  It just never goes away. 

So, guess what?  We're going to fix her up.  Why?  Because wood may not be practical, but it is romantic! 

We're going to report our progress, but here's what she looked like yesterday:

There is hope

We'll need to polish that bell

Inspecting the Mackenzie Cuttyhunk

Wouldn't Dare Take Her Out Today!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Into the Void

There is something soothing about cruising the rugged Maine Coast.  Islands strewn with evergreens and granite produce a rawness that define simplicity.  Fresh, salt-infused air fills your lungs while your body slowly ratchets down to a post-massage state.  Drifting through lapping waves off of Islesboro is the type of therapy city folk seek spawled out on leather couches.  Yes, cruising the Maine Coast delivers a moment of reflection, satisfaction, and relaxation.

That is until the fog rolls in...

Then you might experience different feelings like insecurity, anxiety, or better yet...sheer terror!

Is that jagged ledge five feet off your bow?  Well who can't actually see your bow!


Relax have a GPS.  Be coy have a Compass.

So, you're going in the right direction.  You won't be silly enough to run into that ledge.  It's at least a 1/4 mile off your port side.

 Nice...but, hmmm.  Maybe there are other boaters enjoying the lack of scenery.  It's true, there are probably a dozen other blind boaters drawing zig zags across the bay just as you are.  Slow down and loosen your grip and listen. 

Zzzzzinnnngggg!!!!!!  What's that?  Oh no, I think you ran over a lobster trap!  Cut the engine.  Wow it's quiet...deafening almost.  Okay, trim up the motor.  Take out your fake Leatherman and hope the blade cuts the warp line free.  Success!  And you didn't even need to go for a dip in the frosty sea. 

Fog is a nuisance and is quite prevalent in Maine this time of year.  I've experienced near zero visibility three times in the last week.  First (and worst) on the way to the Maine Boats, Homes, & Harbors show in Rockland from our marina in Hampden in a 31' Rinker Express Cruiser.

On Sunday I cut through it again on the return trip in a Scout 262 Abaco (with Garmin HD radar).  We had an armada of three returning vessels that were able to keep in sight of each other almost the entire way.  Finally, last night I made a trip back from Belfast in my friend's 29' Regal after a fine dinner at Delvino's  We anticipated getting home to Hamlin's Marina around 10:00 p.m., but the cloud of death followed us all the way to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge

We didn't step foot on dry land until 1 a.m.!  Mercifully, a wayward gull hovered over us for a few miles using us as some sort of beacon. 

Fog is a reality in Maine, so be prepared.  Make sure you have a proper compass, GPS, VHF radio, and if at all possible...radar.  Also, make sure you have basic tools, a sharp knife, first aid gear, and an overnight ditch bag (blankets, warm clothes, snacks) just in case you need to overnight in a remote place.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cole Rousey...Fisherman, Hip Hop Artist, and Champion Boat Rigger

Cole Rousey has been a valuable member of the Hamlin's Marina service team for several years. 

Cole on the dock...between rigging jobs

His role at Hamlin's is to rig all of the new and used boats sales sold at the marina.  Seems simple right? 

Well, Cole's work order may simply say...Rig Polar Kraft 180 Sport for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. 

Polar kraft 180 Sport and Proud Owners

What that really means is:

1.) Work with the sales department at the showroom to load the Polar kraft off dollies and onto a trailer. 
The Hamlin's Showroom...Magical Land of New Boats

2.) Check the boat and trailer for proper fit and balance.  If the trailer needs to be adjusted...roll the boat off the trailer back onto the dollies.  Adjust trailer, and repeat step #1.

3.) Transport the Polar kraft to the rigging bay at the marina.  Un-crate a Yamaha F115, remove the cowling, and carefully hoist the outboard onto the transom with an engine hoist.

4.) Check the boat, outboard, and trailer to ensure everything is working properly.  That means everything...lights, switches, cables, steering, plumbing, etc.  Troubleshoot any problems and resolve.

Now the fun part...Mr. & Mrs. Smith love to listen to Carribean music while trolling deep for Togue.  The Smiths like to play their music very loud because the fish can't hear steel drums from 90 feet below! The factory stereo from Polar kraft just didn't have the thump the Smith's wanted, so they purchase a Fusion stereo system with Amp, Subwoofer, and 7" Speakers.  Not only that, but the Smiths had to have the new 1198c Humminbird Fishing System, Electric Cannon Downriggers, and a Fortrex Trolling Motor.  Of course...most of their fishing is done at night, so they request several 2 million candlepower remote spotlights. 

An ordinary marine technician would become overcome with nausea and probably head home early.  Not Cole, though! 


Well, because Cole is a Renaissance Man of sorts and certainly appreciates the need for thumping tunes and the desire for fish assasination equipment.  Cole is both a tournament bass fisherman and an Award-Winning Beat Box Champion.
Another one of Cole's passions...the Human BeatBox we are on to the next step...

5.)  Cram three deep cycle batteries and two marine starting batteries into the compartments along with breakers and battery switches.  Build custom mounts on the dash to support the massive screens and audio equipment.  Fabricate an arch in the machine shop to support 4 high powered spotlights.

6.) Install all the equipment and test!  The earth shakes in the rigging bay as Cole maxes out the bass beats of the steel drums.

7.)  Grab the shop vacuum, scrub brush, and glass cleaner to give the new Polar kraft a shine the new owners will love.

8.)  Meet the new owners and provide them with instructions on proper use and care of their new baby. 

9.)  Launch the boat in the Penobscot River and go for a ride!

Just nine steps really!  Cole's job is pretty much a piece of cake.  What's amazing is that Cole does this several times a day...every day!!!

Check out these recent photos of his deliveries:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cruising Penobscot Bay With Small Children...And Enjoying It!

My wife and I have always enjoyed cruising throughout Maine, but the logistics becomes a little more challenging when you have small children.  Now that my daughters, Zoe and Ella, are 4 and 2 respectively, they are much more mature and able to contribute with docking and emergency operations.  You know I am kidding!  I was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable it was to take young children out on the water for the day.  In fact we were evenly matched...4 adults, a 2 year old, a 3 year old, and two 4 year olds!

We left the Hampden docks early at 9:00 a.m. to accomodate our afternoon nap schedule.  We were supposed to join several other early rising, childless boaters that morning...surprisingly they were nowhere to be found.  It was Father's Day of course, and there were plenty of obligations to go around.  I have to admit that a few years ago, I wouldn't have dreamed about departing before 11:00 a.m., nor would I have enjoyed the company of unknown toddlers.

Interestingly, we did run into most everyone in Penobscot Bay that afternoon.

Here is a picture of the Payson family enjoying Father's Day aboard our demo 2012 310 Rinker Express Cruiser

There was actually one other vessel that was brave enough to join us, even thought there was a very high risk of mutiny!  Harmoney hailing from Stockton Harbor met up with us in Bucksport.  We warned them several times of the horrible experience it is to be exposed to the "Terrible Twos".  The crew of Harmoney was unfazed by our warnings and fell in line on a course for Castine and the famous burgers of Dennett's Wharf.

Pete Hardester and Barbara Money spend their summers in beautiful Stockton Harbor.  We recently re-powered their Grady White with a Yamaha F250 .  Harmony runs quite well wide open or in a rough sea.

Lunch at Dennett's Wharf was incredible as always, and the kids stayed busy with playdoh, coloring books, and this incredible model oceanscape in a box set up on the deck.  They were entertained for over an hour with no major outbursts!  I thoroughly enjoyed my Wharf Burger which I added blue cheese and bacon...hey, it was Father's Day!

Seascape at Dennett's Wharf

Crew with Baby Sea Creatures

After lunch, we followed Harmoney across Penobscot Bay to their home port of Stockton Harbor.  Although we were in a 31' boat, the seas were very rough as the wind had picked up.  Amazingly, my 2 year old seemed at home in the pitching cruiser:

Ella weathering out 4' Penobscot chop

The biggest surprise of the day was Stockton Harbor.  I must have cruised past the entrance to this harbor two dozen times without ever thinking to explore.  This harbor is one of the best kept secrets that I know of in Penobscot Bay.  It is very protected and home to nearly 100 vessels at a first class marine facility with sloping manicured lawns, picnic facilities, and even a playground. 

Make sure when you visit to stay in the channel, because the northern entrance to the harbor is very shallow and hard!

Harmony headed into the marina, and we headed back into the rough stuff for our return to Hamlin's Marina and McLaughlin's at the Marina for well deserved ice cream cones with the kids!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Father's Day Cruise to Castine

What's the best thing to do when you live in greater Bangor on a beautiful day?  Leave!

So that is what Hamlin's Marina and the Pen Bay Explorers are planning on doing next Sunday the 17th of June, which also happens to be Father's Day! 

So, treat your Dad to some family time on the high seas as we cruise to Castine.  All you need is a boat that floats and is capable of a little rough water (please no canoes, kayaks, rubber duckies, 10' jon boats, etc.)  We are departing from Hamlin's Marina at 9:00 a.m. on a course that will take us past Winterport, Bucksport, Stockton Springs, and on to Castine and the Bagaduce River.  For those interested, we'll tie up to the town wharf and grab some great food at Dennett's Wharf

After lunch, we'll head up the Bagaduce for some people and wildlife watching before heading back to Hampden. 

The Pen Bay Explorers is a loose group of people who love boating and sharing their secret spots in return for good company.  Here are some photos of past trips:

There is a full schedule of cruises and events for the Pen Bay Explorers and Hamlin's Marina available at:

If you are interested in joining on of the cruises or even interested in boating, contact me at or give me a call at 207-907-4385

Can't wait for next Sunday!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Prepare Your Boat For The Maine Coast

The best advice I have to someone who is interested in exploring the Maine Coast by boat is... Be Prepared!  When you are prepared, it makes boating an enjoyable and relaxing affair. 

Being prepared includes having the proper safety gear, and that includes electronics.  Electrical componets are prone to failure; you should have a good understanding of traditional forms of navigation using a compass, soundings, and a chart.  A good chartplotter, radar, sonar, and  VHF radio will make your adventures safe and fun.  The features available on today's electronic suites include all the standard fare plus enhancements such as weather overlays, emergency Coast Guard calling, even satellite radio.

Today at the Hamlin's Marina, we are outfitting a 2012 Scout 245 Abaco.

Scout 245 Abaco

The owner has chosen to install a Garmin 5208 flush mounted screen in the dash.  The unit features an 8" touch screen for navigating menus and information.  The unit also allows you to overlay valuable information on the map including radar and satellite Doppler weather radar.  An added bonus is that the 5208 acts as a receiver for XM radio (sometimes its hard to tune in WTOS twenty miles offshore!)

Helm featuring Garmin 5208 and Standard Horizon Eclipse VHF with GPS

Installing the correct electronics includes owning the right boat.  You can see that the 245 Abaco is well suited for coastal cruising and it has ample space for mounting screens and antennas.  The helm features a large, flat dash for handling todays large, high-definition screens.  More importantly, it features a fiberglass hardtop which is perfect for mounting a raydome, multiple antennas, and even a remote spotlight.
Justin "Reno" Bennett Chasing Wires to the Hardtop


Hamlin's Marina has everything you need to safely enjoy the Maine Coast.  Make sure you stop in before you venture out on the high seas!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hottest Boats For 2012

Maine's lakes, rivers, and bays will be littered with new boats this summer!  Hamlin's Marine has just finished our boat show season, and we are excited to launch a beautiful fleet this year.

One thing is for sure...boating is back in a huge way!  For 2012, the boats are bigger, prettier, and faster than they've ever been.  The trend certainly has been boats with huge capacities for taking out the entire family. 

Here are some of the boats you may see on your lake this year:

The 2012 San Pan just redefined what is possible when it comes to a pontoon boat.  The upholstery on the San Pan would challenge the furnishings of the finest Man Cave.  The pillow top seats softly embrace you in luxury.  Young and old alike will find plenty to love aboard the San Pan.  The sides are high enough to coral even the most unruly two year old, the bar and grill keep college coeds entertained, and the chaise lounge seats are a welcome feature when you are old and sore! 

The biggest thing to hit Maine waters the year?  Definitely Scout Boats!  Scout Abacos, Dorados, and Sportfish models will be clogging the ramps in the years to come.  Why?  Because they simply have outdesigned any of the competing boat lines on the market.  Scouts have better upholstery, engineering, and looks than any other option on the market in the coastal fishing and cruising market.  See more at:

The Hurricane Sundeck Sport 188 OB has been a model for quite awhile.  Why all of the sudden is the boat selling like flapjacks at a maple syrup convention?  Maybe because this boat comes in about $10 K less than any other boat on the market with a capacity of 10 people, full fiberglass design, and performance that will shock you!  You will not find a more stable 18' boat anywhere that can seat 10.  More info at:

Stingray's new 208 LR is considered a deckboat like the Hurricane only it is more purebred sportboat.  The 208 features a deep hull and the most modern ammenities like a full integrated swim platform, walkthrough transom, fiberglass cockpit floor option, and comfy bolster seats.  Drop a 6 cylinder Mercruiser and your breaking the speed limit on most highways!

All of us at Hamlin's hope you have a safe and enjoyable boating season!  Come check out all the new models in our Hampden and Waterville showrooms.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scouts Are Out To Getcha!

A Blog by Kyle Ross:

On the plains of Africa, the cheetah is a predator that is unlike any other. To the common eye, the cheetah is a cute, fuzzy, beautiful kitty. From the view point of the poor grazers of the plains, the cheetah is a slick, elegant, killing machine. The Scout 245 Abaco is a cheetah. YOU are the prey.


Try all you want, the Scout always gets you in the end. You look at this boat and think of it as a beautiful, innocent masterpiece. This is where the Scout lures your interest. You cant resist looking into its belly, which will make your jaw drop. And once you see the spacious interior, you cant help yourself but get in and  see everything up close. Little do you know, the Scout is digging in its claws, and you are about to fall victim.

You see that there is enough space on board for people to lounge inside the cuddy cabin. That there is a head on board as well, so frequent stops dont need to be made! The captain's area is equipped with all of the gauges and gadgets that he could possibly imagine. All of which are protected from the elements by the hard top overhead. The hunt is almost over...

As you exit the belly, you notice the bulk of a 300 horse power Yamaha outboard on the transom. The Scout has made its kill.