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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Electric Vessel with Historic Roots
EV America
January 8, 2020

tained glass windows from the 1860s, pulled from a church. A newel post from the 1700s and shutter hinges from the 1900s. Bits of architectural salvage come together inside EV America to create a finely detailed live-aboard inspired by a mid-1800s steam ship.

EV America
America at sunset.

EV America and her husband and wife crew – Tom and Tiffany – visited Oriental at Christmas.

EV America
Tom and Tiffany live on America four months of the year and spend the rest of their time in Friendship, Maine.

Tom Joyal has built a few boats in his life. This is his fifth, if you count the dinghy he built at age 12. It’s not his trade, just a thing he’s always done. For a few decades, Tom was in the architectural salvage business in Kennebunk, Maine; that’s where the fine details of America come in.

EV America
1860s stained glass came from a church.
EV America
Cypress and stained glass in the aft sitting area.

“A lot of stuff, honestly, I couldn’t sell.” He says, while standing inside the salon. “This is just all trim, from all sorts of houses,” he points at the ceiling. “And they had paint on one side, so you just filet it, cut this into thin pieces, and you get the old wood look.”

EV America
Windows made in 1911, taken from a home in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
EV America
The 60’ America at the town dock. She has a draft of 3’10”.
EV America
The bubble windows in the exterior doors are replacement glass for headlights.

Tom waves his hand, taking in the interior, “It’s just stuff no one saves, and we saved everything.”

“Everything has a use,” says Tiffany, Tom’s wife, “you just have to have the vision, and he has the vision.”

EV America
Comet, the steamboat that inspired America.
EV America

Stained glass decorates a sitting area toward the stern. In a small sitting room to the side, a cypress mantel from Kennebunk decorates the wall. Beneath it hangs a a faded painted piece depicting an eagle on a field of blue. A window built in 1911 lets in the light.

EV America
On the upper deck.
EV America
A faded eagle was the perfect decoration under the cypress fireplace mantel.

The galley is designed on an idea he had from an old ship. A half-wall of drawers are painted with the names of dry-goods. Tiffany says that only a few of them – the coffee and spices drawers – actually contain the described items. A quartered newel post from 300-ish years ago has been cut to finish a cabinet edge. Glass drawer pulls from the 1860s are in use on the cabinet doors.

EV America
The kitchen cabinets are based on an idea from an old ship. Among the modern amenities are glass drawer pulls from the 1860s, a quartered newel post from the 1700s, and shutter hinges from the 1900s.
EV America
Tom took apart three cypress cisterns and used the wood throughout the vessel. On the left, 130 year old cypress shutters hide the washing machine.

Cypress is in use throughout the vessel, and much of it comes from three large, roof-top cisterns. More modern amenities, like the washing machine, are hidden behind 130 year old cypress shutters.

EV America
The window looking into the state room was salvaged twice, says Tom, after the initial buyer sold the home and the second buyer returned it.
EV America
The view from inside the state room.
EV America
Tom painted the ceiling of the state room and decks blue to help keep insects away.

She’s an electric vessel, powered by diesel generators charging 120kw electric motors. She cruises at six knots and burns five miles per gallon. She has a shallow draft, only about 3’10”, and that’s with the addition of lead ballast bags.

EV America
Tom’s first attempt at carving is an eagle’s head, made from a block of mahogany.
EV America
The forward berth shows off the cedar hull; four layers of cedar with fir framing.

Tom bought the hull 14 years ago. Weathered and in disrepair, he only knew that he wanted to build another live-aboard vessel. The hull sat in a boat yard for 10 years. The inspiration for America came when he saw a picture of a mid-1800s steamboat called Comet and work finally began about three and a half years ago.

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America in progress. (Photos Tiffany Joyal)

During that time, Tom’s brother took his own life. “I got this little box of stuff, just junk, you know? And I pulled out his hat.” The beige ball cap has an American flag patch that says, ‘America, established 1776.’

EV America
Tom’s brother’s hat, and the how America got her name.
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Tom gives a tour of the wheelhouse.

“You know, that was a sign. I was going to name it Comet, which is what I modeled [the boat] after, but the comet’s the end of the world.”

EV America
A seat made for Tiffany, but claimed by Mookie the cat. Made of an old church pew, Tom attached a brass furniture embellishment on the front.
EV America
Even the hinges have come from salvage.

Tom and Tiffany live on America four months out of the year, cruising the coast. In addition to being a live-aboard, they want to use her for day cruises, and to help get veterans and their families out on the water. “This is the best place in the world, I’m a crazy fan of my country,” Tom says, “I didn’t fight in a war, I didn’t do anything in the military and that’s part of the reason I want to try and give something back, whatever little it is.”

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America maneuvers in Oriental harbor, preparing to leave.

Posted Wednesday January 8, 2020 by Allison DeWeese

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