Friday, May 8, 2015

The Cutwater 30 Command Bridge

Last week we delivered two new Cutwater 30 Command Bridge models to excited new owners.  This model is the most recent offering from Washington state's storied boat builder, Fluid Motion.  Powered by a Volvo 435 Horsepower single Diesel engine, the 30 CB is an economical blue water cruiser.  The bridge includes comfortable seating for four to enjoy boating as God the open air!  The optional navigation package features three networked 15" Garmin screens allowing the owners to view vital engine info, charts, radar, and more from virtually anywhere in the boat.

Here is a video of a recent shakedown cruise on a Cutwater 30 CB on the Penobscot River:

If you would like to try out the Cutwater 30 Command Bridge, please join us on Sunday, May 17th at the Wentworth Marina in New Castle, NH to test drive!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Puffin Boats Manufacturing Facility...An American Dream

Opportunity knocks all the time.  Sometimes we're too distracted to notice, and other times we are afraid of what is on the other side of the door.  A few years ago my wife Katie and I opened the door wide open, and the wind nearly slammed it back in our face.

At Hamlin's Marine, we order, sell, service, and store boats manufactured across the country.  We have long-established partnerships with famous boat companies including Stingray, Scout, Mastercraft, Cutwater & Godfrey.  These companies are committed to supplying our dealership with high quality production sport boats, pontoons, tow boats, cruisers, and fishing boats.  

For us there is a business side to boats.  But like you, there is definitely an emotional side as well.
For years, I admired the works of boat builders throughout the state of Maine at the annual Rockland Boat Show.  I envied the purity of small production, custom boat builders...or so I thought.  

A couple of years ago, Katie and I purchased the Puffin Dinghy Company out of Frankfort, Maine.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  How difficult could making 8' dinghies really be?  Plus, I could keep our growing staff busy throughout the winter months while turning out cute little boats.  It really wouldn't be a big deal, or so we thought...

Trying to combine a boatbuilding operation with a successful dealership was not the right move at all.  I think everyone wondered if we'd lost our minds; I was beginning to believe we'd made an awful mistake.  Re-training, inventory management, fire and health safety concerns, & dust and fumes were obstacles and challenges that we were dealing with on a daily basis.  I began to think that our dream of boatbuilding might be the worst business decision of our lives.
But our Hamlin's circled the wagons, and our team pulled together.  The tides began to turn when one of our customers approached us with an opportunity to build parts for a local yacht builder.  It would be a challenge for sure, but we were determined to succeed.  Our inner circle of long-term employees devised a plan to meet the new customer's needs.  Our fiberglass repair technician, Justin Sass, became a supervisor, and our fiberglass & composites fabrication team grew to five strong in a matter of months.  Pride and determination pushed us through challenges that seemed insurmountable.  

During this time, our beloved Puffin Dinghies took a backseat, and the molds and tooling were tucked away in a dark corner of our storage building.  It was a sad but necessary move.

Meanwhile, my team was meeting with Johnson Outdoors...home of famous Old Town Canoe.  We were hashing out the details of an agreement that would reintroduce fiberglass canoes in the market.

All the excitement and all the growth put a serious squeeze on our facility, and it soon became clear that we would need to build a proper facility if we were going to stay in the business.  We contracted Betsy Poulin of Lucky Rock to help guide us through the regulatory and construction challenges.  She helped us stay on time and on budget to create the new Puffin Boats manucturing facility now fully operational on Route 1A in Hampden.

Today, our team is building canoes, yacht components, and Puffin Dinghies in Hampden.  Katie and I are grateful to everyone who has helped make this amazing facility possible.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Home Opener Boat Show in Portland

Finally, it's boat show season in Maine!  Everyone at Hamlin's is at the Portland Boat Show this weekend.  I know a lot of people are whining about the weather, and for good reason.  But it is about ready to come to an end.  Spring is right around the corner, and the best way to get ready is to make sure that you have a boat ready for open water.  

Your feet might be cold, and your pastey white skin may have you thinking that you should wait a bit before making the plunge.  Forget it!  Make the leap, and you will spend the next couple of months dreaming of lazy summer days on the water.

Whether you are looking for a Downeast diesel cruiser, a Puffin sailboat, a legendary Mastercraft ski boat, or a down and dirty fishing boat...Hamlin's has the boat for you in Portland.

So don't let the winter get the best of you, and get yourself to Portland and let us help you find the right boat for spring.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Boston Boat Show Proves That Hell is Actually Cold

Hamlin's Marine decided to stick our neck out this year and attend the Super Bowl of boat shows...the New England Boat Show.  Of course, Hamlin's decided to bet big with Cutwater, NorthCoast, and Scout in a year that Hell actually froze over.  Our two weeks in Boston were the snowiest and coldest on record; our rental home in Jamaica Plain could have passed for a sugar shack in the Allagash.

Jamaica Plain on the Wrong Side of the Tracks
In true Maine fashion, our sales team hunkered down and turned our misfortune into an adventure similar to an ice fishing expedition.  Instead of brookies and togue, we were dealing with gigantic subway rats, street thugs, and parking bans.  

Of course, it could have been much worse.  There was a rumor that the the Prudential building was completely buried in snow.  My mother was stricken with panic, and she left me a voice mail.  I love my mother forever for this one:


The reality was bad, but certainly not life threatening.  Here a couple of pictures from a pizza take out mission...

Best Pizza In Boston

Blocking Traffic For a Good Cause

Another Blizzard Was on the Way...I think These Cars are Still There!

The logistics of move in and the amount of labor it took to prepare the boats was nothing short of heroic.  Our team including Justin Bennett, Cole Rousey, Norman Shirley, Chuck Heath, Mike Perrino of Casco Bay Yacht Sales, and Dave Hamlin were able to navigate the snowbound city and set up a boating paradise in the frozen hell that was Boston.  These guys are truly hard core Mainers that aren't afraid of a massive challenge.  

Here are some photos of the move in and move out:

Human Trafficking in the Trailer to Sneak Past the Union Gestapo
Cutwater Boats 

Reno Needing a Good Nap

Despite dismal crowds at the Boston Convention Center, Hamlin's Marine experienced a successful show.  We made new customers and new friends including a unique and wonderful individual by the name of Ed Del Grande.  Not only did Ed buy a new Cutwater at the show, he joined our sales team for a couple of days and sold his tail off!  Check out this video and you'll understand how Ed could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves:

Ed is my new best friend and I'm so happy to be delivering a new Cutwater 26 to him in Rhode Island this spring.  He is the most energetic, appreciative, and humorous guy I've met in my years selling boats.  I hope Ed doesn't mind when I start showing up to his family gatherings!

Ed & Linda Del Grande on Their New Boat with Salesman John Clark

I could bore everyone with the details of our Boston trip, but I'll keep some things between us and God.  The trip made us stronger as a team, as well as VIP customers of an institution in Jamaica Plain by the name of Doyle's Pub.  Thank you Jerry for putting up with four salesmen from Hamlin's Marine and the after hours round of Guinness.  We'll always remember our new city friends, and we will sure to be back to Doyle's next year!  You made us feel at home.

Peace Out Doyle's!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Coast to Coast Sales Trip

Dan, Josh, & John at the Cutwater Plant in Front of a 30 Sedan
Three guys, five hotels, and a red eye flight from LA later...the Hamlin's Marine sales team is now ready to suit up for the New England Boat Show in Boston in a couple weeks.

Our sales staff braved the 12th Man (the Seattle Seahawks united legion of Seahawk fans) to work the Seattle Boat Show with Bellingham Yacht Sales to promote Cutwater Boats (  

After a legendary Garth Brooks show in Boston, we flew direct to Seattle on JetBlue ($99 one way flight!)  The flight came in late...11:30 Pacific Time, so we weren't able to pick up our rental car before crashing at the airport Hampton Inn.  After a short night, we scarfed down the hotel buffett breakfast and cabbed it to Enterprise for our rental whip...a red 2015 Chevy Cruise complete with a Garmin GPS (totally necessary) and a booming subwoofer for 80s rap music compliments of XM radio.

Off we went through rush hour Seattle traffic to Monroe, WA for our first leg of our journey...Cutwater Plant #1.  Upon arriving, we wondered if we had the wrong address, as the building looked a bit run down.  We had expected to arrive at the gates of the Emerald City...not so much.  But sure enough, we saw the tell tale sign of beautiful Downeast lines under a veil of shrinkwrap and a tiny Cutwater sign.  

Our Cutwater representative pulled in with his white Suburban and escorted us to the front office where we met the Livingston family...legendary West Coast boatbuilders who were the brain trust of innovative designs for Regal and Bayliner over the years.  Now, they manage an empire of five Washington plants manufacturing Ranger Tugs and our own Cutwater Boats.  

Although the first plant showed its age, the people on the floor were an army of worker bees, and you could smell productivity...or was that styrene?  Anyway, our crew admired the production of 26' & 28' Cutwater, as well as the brand new 24' outboard powered Cutwater Solara.  This new model is going to shake up the recreational boating industry for years to come!  Think Downeast classic styling with the performance of a Porsche 911 turbo!

2015 Cutwater 24 Solara
After our tour, we followed Mark Mansfield to a nice hotel in Everett, Washington perched on Puget Sound.   We took a moment to marvel at the West Coast boats at the attached marina.  Windshields faced forward and massive plate-aluminum fishing boats clogged the slips.  The odd boats and 65 degree January weather reminded us we weren't in Rockland or Southwest Harbor.  No...we were in a strange new land of boating, and we were excited!  

We loaded up into Mark's suburban and braved the heavy traffic to Centurylink Field...home of the Seattle Seahawks and the annual boat show.  Luckily, those wayward seabirds were in Arizona prepping for their funeral with the New England Patriots.  I was glad I was here to work the Seattle Boat Show and not to tackle that Skittle-eating, Marshawn Lynch!

Centurylink Field
The Seattle Show showcases over 1000 boats, so we took the time to wander the show.  We spent some time at the Garmin booth to bone up on the latest electronics.  I was excited to see that networking a Flir infrared camera is now possible with Garmin.  I can't believe that the technology that Arnold Schwarzenegger used in the Predator is now available for recreational boaters!  

The Hamlin's Marine sales team joined the Cutwater booth and were welcomed by the fine folks of Bellingham Yacht Sales.  Believe it or not, the owners of Bellingham Yacht Sales are Mainers from Madison, Maine...Maine Maritime graduates, no less!  Check out this video by John Clark of the Cutwater 30 Command Bridge.

The staff was great and toured us through all the Cutwater models and showed us all the new 2015 features.  Bellingham was an original Cutwater dealer and these guys just crank them out at the Seattle Show.  Last year, these guys sold 55 boats at the show!  When we left, they were on pace to break that ridiculous figure.

After the show, Mark Mansfield treated all of us to a fine dinner of oysters, poke (a Hawaiian raw fish concoction), and King Salmon...followed by a massive helping of blueberry cobbler.   That meal accompanied by a couple of West Coast IPAs had us staggering to our rooms just after 10:00 P.M.

Josh Reviewing the West Coast IPA Selection

Then next morning, Josh and I woke up before dawn for a morning run along Puget Sound so that our pants would fit for the show.  I took the opportunity to wear my Rob Gronkowski Patriots jersey to snub the 12th man.  Good thing it was still dark out!

Gronk on Puget Sound

Our white Suburban chariot was there to pick us up after a quick breakfast.  We headed to Arlington, Washington which is home to the new Cutwater plant.  This is where they build the 30 Sedan, Command Bridge, and Sport Top boats for Cutwater.  The crew here was impressive, as they have a full cabinet and woodworking shop as well as a new glass and window shop.  You see, Cutwater is now building their own windows and frames for the cabins.  These new windows are sleek and custom fit complimenting the boats.  As we admired the facility, a couple of wise-ass boat builders/12th Man guys handed us a deflated football.  Good one, guys!

The Arlington plant is massive and is ready for increased capacity, as Bayliner used to build ninety-five 47' boats a year in this facility during the boom years.  Now, Cutwater has ten 30 foot models in production.  Based on the sales at the Seattle Show, they will be hiring!

Men at Work at the Arlington, WA Cutwater Factory

All of us spent the afternoon at the Seattle Show and took some time to do some video tours of the boats that will be found on our Youtube channel.  Because of the blizzard back home, we had a free day and we did a bit of sightseeing including a drive up the foothills to admire the towering peak of Mount Rainier before boarding a Virgin Atlantic flight to LA for a connecting redeye back to Boston.

Mt. Rainier
If you ever find yourself in Terminal 3 at LAX, do not order their famous New England clam chowder.   Trust ain't the same!

Bye, Bye Seattle

Our team arrived at Logan at 6:00 a.m. after maybe 4 hours of sleep and headed to Bristol, RI after digging our our Toyota Tundra in the Park & Ride.  Our last stop was NorthCoast boats to check out the new 27' Hard Top and a couple of our customer boats in production.  The NorthCoast factory is one of the finest in the world and we all admired the signature solid fiberglass hulls and massive support stringers that make these boats the burliest saltwater fishing boats in the world.

NorthCoast Stringer System...No Wood Here!

The new 27' Hard Top is massive with a 10'2" beam and sleeping for four.  She features a 20 degree deadrise and can be powered with twin 250 outboards; it can be easily maneuvered at the dock with an optional bow thruster.  We spent some time talking with the owner, Jose DaPonte, and admired his passion and energy.  What a partner we have in NorthCoast Boats!  Charlie Tasso, the sales rep, handed us a copy of this month's "On the Water" magazine which features a 21' Hard Top NorthCoast on the cover.
21' NorthCoast Cover
After as couple of hours at the plant and a double dose of Dunkin' Donuts coffee...we finally headed back to Maine.

Josh Next to the Massive Hardtop 27 Hull

Five hours later, we were all back in Maine...five days older and a little wiser.  Hamlin's Marine is now ready for our first Boston Boat Show!