HYANNIS – “There are no boat dealers here. The person you are talking to is the person who is going to be building your boat,” explained Scott Denton, a member of the boat show committee of the Cape Cod Marine Trade Association.
Denton, the owner of the Buzzards Bay Boat Shop of North Falmouth, said that the 11th annual Cape Cod Boatbuilders Show, held this weekend at the Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis, is for craftsmen and those looking to buy a custom-built boat.
“Most everybody that comes to the show is a boater and knows boating,” said Denton. “They either own a boat or have owned one,” he said.
Karen Crosby, who works in the E.M. Crosby Boatworks of West Barnstable, owned by her brother Ned Crosby, said, “We find a lot of tire kickers.”
And while this is a trade show, Crosby said, “We’re here to meet people and greet people and make some friends.”
And Woody Metzger, owner of First Light Boatworks, formerly Pease Boatworks of Chatham, said, “This particular show is as much about trying to sell a boat as it is seeing the community. These guys are all my friends.”
Metzger said there was a commonality among the builder. “We love boats, we love the water, and we love using our hands,” he said.
Tony Davis, owner of Arey’s Pond Boat Yard of Orleans, said, “We’re too small of a community not to get along.” He added that the camaraderie is so good that builders will trade or lend employees.
According to Denton, about 15 builders were at the show, which featured more than 20 boats. Some builders had more than one boat, he said. Most were from the Cape, although there was a builder from Maine.
Crosby brought along three, including a eye-catching workboat called, “The Admiral”.
In fact, every boat in the show was a work of art. Most were wooden. “We’re essentially craftsmen,” said Davis.
And that was the point of the show. “This isn’t talking to salesmen,” said Walter Baron of the Old Wharf Dory Company of Wellfleet. “It’s the guys doing the work, and the people here know that.”
Baron said, “There’s serious people here.” That is why he goes to the show. “It’s not my favorite thing to do. But you’ve got to tell people you’re here.”
So while serious boaters wandered the conference center high-ceilinged hall admiring and comparing the various boats, a handful of boat builders told Cape Cod Wave that the event was not about competition for customers, but rather mutual respect and friendship.
“It’s not like everyone’s pushing the same boat,” said Baron.
Prices, like the boats and boat styles, varied significantly.
Davis said that buying a custom boat is very different than buying from a dealer that has inventory on hand. “That’s kind of like buying a car,” he said. “As soon as you own it, it loses value.”
“To have a boat built, you have to wait a year,” said Davis. “We can be more expensive because we are custom,” he said.
But Davis said that a custom boat will not only hold its value, but also hold up so that “you are buying a boat for three generations.”
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