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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.

Susan Elaine
Home-built traditional sailboat
June 1, 2018

here are those who say they want to build a boat. And there are those who actually do it.

Scott MacCready does not consider himself a boat builder. Susan, his wife, probably doesn’t consider herself one, either. But that’s what they did: built a Kahuna 32 from scratch. It took them nearly 8 years.

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Brass bells and a wired/oil lantern add to the traditional look of Susan Elaine.

Scott had been living in Bar Harbor, Maine, working as a traveling nurse, when he decided to try building his own boat. He’d been searching for a vessel that had the look of of a Bristol Channel Cutter. “At least, if you stand far enough away and look, it’s kind of a traditional looking boat,” he said. He found what he’d been looking for online; a design by naval architect Mark Smaalders called a Kahuna 32.

At 10.7 ft, it’s beamy, but only draws 4.6. The added bowsprit and boomkin extend the length by 8ft. Scott asked for a few changes, Smaalders delivered, and work began.

Three months into the project, he met Susan. She was a vice president at the small hospital where he worked in Bar Harbor. They began dating and he made her a promise: if she hung around long enough to see it launched, he’d name it after her.

SV Susan Elaine
Scott and Susan at work on the boat.

Scott didn’t learn to sail in Maine; he took his first sailing lesson in Oriental around 20 years ago when Reg Fidoe owned a sailing school here. Susan had never been sailing, hadn’t even stepped foot on a boat. Scott convinced her to take a sailing course in Maine and took her out day sailing with some friends. He says she enjoyed it and agreed to stick around.

SV Susan Elaine
Susan designed the cabinet doors.

Scott had built houses, but never a boat. He learned a lot through the WoodenBoat magazine forum and through trial and error. Susan took charge of the color scheme and the interior. Having never been on a boat, she wanted the interior to feel more like a house. They toured a 90 ft yacht at Brooklin Boat Yard that had all white interior and Susan determined their boat would have the same.

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Susan painted the interior to look light and comfortable.

She designed the cabinet doors and wanted the engine compartment door to be reminiscent of a fireplace. Scott had a few of his own adjustments. He added an arch and beams to the overhead to give it more character. The nav station became a computer desk for Susan; she’s since taken work as an online professor teaching health care administration. Adding a gate door to the nav station seat created a sleeping crate for their 14lb schnoodle Oliver.

There is a mural of Bar Harbor, where they met, above the galley.

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The galley has everything: brass water pump, microwave, and a view of Bar Harbor.

Scott tried his hand at casting bronze and came up with one usable piece. They scavenged lead from an Alberg 35, melting 6,000 pounds of it in their backyard for the keel. The portholes came from a Cape Dory. Susan Elaine is a wooden boat, but strip-planked with Western Red Cedar. Spanish Cedar was cold molded over that, and then it was glassed over.

Susan did not want an all white boat. She decided to paint the hull cream and accent the bulwark and rudder with apple green in a nod to the colorful boats of the Caribbean.

SV Susan Elaine
A butterfly hatch lets light into the galley. Notorious for leaking, Scott created covers for the hatch when the weather gets rough.

They made plans to finish the boat, sail to Ocracoke and get married on the Susan Elaine. But life happens. The build took longer than expected.

Growing tired of the Maine winters, they moved the boat to New Bern in 2016, living aboard at Fairfield Harbor while finishing it. The mast was not yet attached, so they couldn’t yet sail to Ocracoke as they’d planned. Instead, friends sailed them to the island where they were married in August of the same year.

Around that time, Susan developed a brain tumor. Work on the boat stopped and they returned to Maine for her treatment. Scott took a sewing machine with them and they made the sail covers while waiting for her surgery. The tumor was benign and treatment successful.

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Above deck on SV Susan Elaine.

The past year has been one of recovery and planning. They took new nursing contracts to help rebuild their savings. His ended three weeks before hers and she sent him ahead “with orders to get here, get the damn boat finished, and don’t let any bugs on the boat.” And Scott has done exactly that.

In April he returned to Fairfield Harbor and in three weeks he stepped the mast, did all the rigging, finished the wiring, and installed an electric engine (and all the batteries necessary to power it). Scott knows many do not look on electric motors favorably. But he defends his choice: diesel fumes make him ill. There are plans to add a wind generator to Susan Elaine at their next stop. But what he accomplished at Fairfield Harbor was enough; he was eager to get to Oriental to meet Susan and begin their trip north.

SV Susan Elaine
Scott chose his clothes carefully, representing Oriental and his boat.

They left Oriental mid-May and are heading back to Maine. Susan’s children and grandchildren are still there. The plan is to summer in Maine and head to St. Croix. After that, they’ll play it by ear.

Scott says he’ll never build another boat. “I’ve wondered about it – is there anything I’ve learned that I could put to work financially…. No. The guys working at the boatyards can do all the things in a smaller time frame and produce better quality.”

He does, however, make one very important point: “everything here I’ve built, so I know how to fix it.”

SV Susan Elaine
From the deck of SV Susan Elaine: members of the Sailing Club of Oriental pass by as Scott and Susan head to Maine.

Posted Friday June 1, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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