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Maritimo 2023 M600 LEADERBOARD

Come From Away - the story of an extraordinary restoration

by Brooklin Boat Yard 17 Sep 2023 10:16 PDT
Come From Away in Lynn's yard before Bruce hauled her away © Brooklin Boat Yard

The beginning of this restoration story starts with a longtime student of the Wooden Boat School, Bruce Bennett, who would regularly peruse the "free boats" section of Wooden Boat Magazine.

In the fall of 2020, Bruce spotted an ad for a free 1956 Shepard Utility Model located in New Hampshire. True to form, all that was required to become the new owner of the Shepard was a pickup by a willing new owner.

Excited, Bruce called the number and left the message, "I'd love to have her," he said. No one called back. Bruce was persistent, though, and he called Wooden Boat Magazine inquiring about the boat in the ad. It turned out the number was erroneous, so Bruce called the correct number and (via phone) met Lynn, the owner of the Shepard. Lynn was located in Newton, New Hampshire, about a four-hour drive from Bruce's home in Central New York.

Bruce says the Shepard had been sitting under a tarp in Lynn's yard for about twenty-five years, though the engine and other parts were stored in Lynn's shed. After meeting Lynn and seeing the Shepard in person, Bruce agreed to pick her up and, ultimately, take on the lengthy process of restoring her. Bruce says, "It took about a year and a half to get all the parts... Lynn kept finding parts, and I kept going to get them."

During that process, which was also throughout the pandemic, Bruce was attending Wooden Boat School in the summers, and it was customary for him to make frequent trips to Brooklin Boat Yard during his stays in Brooklin. On one trip, he says, he spoke with Brian Larkin about the possibility of bringing the Shepard to Brooklin Boat Yard for restoration. Of course, Bruce wanted to be able to work on the boat intermittently, too, but he knew he needed the help to get it all done. "I'm seventy-one," Bruce says,"Do I want to work on a boat for ten years, or do I want to be able to use it?" He says Brian was agreeable to the idea of both BBY and Bruce working on the boat, but the boat living at the boat yard. The decision was made easier by the fact that wait times at wood shops in the Adirondacks were near eighteen months long. Though they were closer to Bruce's home, he didn't want to wait that long to start the restoration.

In April of 2021, Bruce brought the engine to BBY first, then he brought the boat a month later. Step by step and month by month, the work progressed. For two summers, Bruce would drive to Brooklin, camp out at the boat yard, and spend weeks working on his boat along with the crew at BBY. "I'd get up at 6:30 in the morning and go to work," Bruce says, "It was so much fun. If I were ten years younger, I'd apply for a job there."

Speaking of the work, it is significant in that it is completely restorative. For one, the original engine has been completely restored thanks in large part to BBY's lead mechanic, Mark, and Van Ness in New Jersey, where the vintage parts were sourced. Additionally, new decks and a transom were built, and the dash, frames, planking, sides and hardware are all restored original. This new version of the Shepard is like-new and ready to ride the waves at her new home on Lake Otesaga in Cooperstown, NY. Her name? It's Come From Away.

Sadly, Lynn died in December of 2022 and is unable to see the final result, but Bruce says he is attaching Lynn's picture to the dash of Come From Away, so that Lynn can ride alongside Bruce on her maiden voyage.

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