Published in PortCity Life
Being the owner of a wooden boat isn't easy. It requires constant work and a lot of energy. Fiberglass boats are for folks who want to go out on the water, come back and go home. Not so the wooden boat owner, who is so in love with the boat that hard labor becomes fun.
Marty and Sue Macisso own a 1971 48-foot Egg Harbor flush deck motor yacht, Invincible IV, which they keep at their slip at DiMillo's on the waterfront. They laugh about their efforts to have a life and still give the boat the attention it needs. "You can spend all day stripping it down to bare wood," Marty said, holding a scraper in his hand on a sunny summer afternoon. "You've got to stay focused."
He spent years in the boat business, as an owner's representative to shipbuilders, and knows how rare a good ship's carpenter is - and how expensive. Rather than spend the $50 an hour it can cost to have someone else do it, he takes on a lot of the tasks himself.
They do pay a diver for help with the anodes, making sure the screws holding the boat together remain intact. "You keep (the anodes) up, they'll last a long time," Marty said.
But diving is just part of the maintenance schedule for Invincible IV.
"You can't leave a boat unattended in Maine," Marty said. He and his wife live aboard the boat in the summer. They're both originally from Munjoy Hill, so being close to Portland's downtown is a real benefit, and a good change from their Scarborough winter home.
They take the boat out several days a week. On the days the boat is in its slip, though, Marty is at work somewhere aboard. "It's like doing body work on a car," he said.
But like a car, the key is paint. Keeping the wood protected from the elements is a challenge, and Marty spends more of his time inspecting the exterior of the boat, looking for chipping paint or bare spots. Then he scrapes away any loose paint before going in with bucket and brush.
For bigger projects, Marty and Sue network with their neighbors in the marina. Somebody is handy around motors, while another might be a wizard at on-board plumbing or wiring. It's an informal barter system, in which Marty and Sue get help in exchange for future or past help on other boats.
But most of the effort has to come from their dedication to the boat. They've owned Invincible IV for a year (and bought it with that name, so they have no idea what happened to the first three Invincible boats), but owned a 38-foot Egg Harbor and wanted more room. They knew what they were in for, and signed up cheerfully.
"A wooden boat requires self-sufficient owners," Marty said, "They're a special breed."