The Rangeley Lake rowboat was developed during the late 19th century in the Rangeley Lakes region of western Maine, a place of dense evergreen forests, sparkling blue lakes and clear mountain air. Then, as now, the Rangeley area flourished as a popular vacation resort. The lakes were dotted with rustic cottages, hotels and lakeside fishing camps. The Rangeley boat was used by local guides to carry vacationing city "sports" on fishing trips in search of landlocked salmon and brook trout. A boat that was sturdy, stable enough to carry a load and seaworthy enough to take on the sudden chops that can turn a placid lake into a churning sea in a matter of minutes was required. The design of the Rangeley filled that bill. Since the 19th century, the forms of outdoor recreations have changed remarkably, but the excellent qualities of the Rangeley have endured.
The Rangeley is a masterful blend of elegance and utility. The long, sweeping lines suggest the grace and serenity of a canoe. The cedar and oak used in her construction are a delight to the eye and touch and provide a sense of beauty and integrity not to be found in a boat of man-made materials. Yet the Rangeley is not a museum piece to be admired from afar. She invites hard and honest use. The wood is sturdy, and the wide beam of the design provides stability and roominess. The double-ended waterline and long, fine lines combine to make the boat very fast and easy to row. Two rowing stations add to the speed if tandem rowing is desired. While the original Rangeleys were double ended, a concession to the 20th century was the adaptation of a transom to mount an outboard motor. Its versatility is further demonstrated by the fact that it can be modified for sliding seat rowing.
Malone Boatbuilding had its origins in the 1970's during the wooden boatbuilding revival. The Rangeley boat was our guiding light and inspiration, as well as the center of our business during the late 70's and throughout the 1980's. The first Rangeley built by Bruce, in the living room of a rented house in Camden, was constructed in the traditional manner, using lines published in National Fisherman by John Gardner, guru and historian of traditional wooden boats. The lines were taken from Rangeley boats still being produced at that time by old-time Rangeley boatbuilder, Herb Ellis.
The Ellis Rangeley - named for Herb Ellis, a long time builder. Note the stool style seats, designed to keep the "sport" seated in the middle.
The 17' Rangeley as built by Malone Boatbuilding.
One of the classiest sailboats currently to be found moored in the Camden harbor is a recently restored class racing boat known as the Northeast Harbor A. Originally designed in 1912 by Edwin Boardman and built by George Lawley and Son for the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the sailboat was a slightly larger version of the Manchester 171/2 (now known as the Dark Harbor 17). Twenty-one of these new boats (then known as EYC 17's or Marblehead One-Designs) were built and used during the seasons of 1912 and 1913, but were considered something of a novelty, and the denizens of the yacht club moved on to a new design.
Following the end of World War I, the Marblehead boats were purchased by residents of Northeast Harbor, Maine, and along with the Dark Harbor 17 became known as the Northeast Harbor Fleet. By 1923, a yacht club had been formed, and more boats were commissioned to be built by Rice Brothers in East Boothbay, Maine. At the height of its popularity throughout the 1930's, the racing fleet consisted of up to 45 Northeast Harbor A's. Eventually, however, newer class boats appeared on the scene and the decline of the Northeast Harbor class began. By the early sixties, the weekly races had been reduced to one annual regatta. The last regatta took place in 1971, and today the Northeast Harbor makes occasional appearances in various antique boat races.
The Northeast Harbor A is a gaff rigged knockabout sloop. It is 27'-6" long overall, with a beam of 7'-3. It has a draft of 4'. White oak is used for construction of the backbone. The planking is cedar. The ribs are white oak. A little cuddy cabin has oak sides which continue aft as the coamings. The deck and cabin top are canvas covered. The ballast keel is iron. Bare bones accommodations consist of 2 seats/berths in sitting headroom. The style is similar to the Dark Harbor 17s and the HAJ boats from Finland.
Malone Boatbuilding came into possession of one of these aristocrats around ten years ago when a customer donated the boat to the shop after determining that restoration of the boat would be prohibitive in cost. The sailboat had certainly seen better days, but the beauty and potential of the craft was evident. Eventually, we took on the restoration as a shop project.
Northeast Harbor A in Camden harbor.