History

 

In 1796 - two hundred and eleven years ago - Captain William McGlathery launched Camden's shipping industry when he sent "one ship and a schooner" down the ways.

In 1816, Captain Joseph Stetson established his yard in Camden. Over the ensuing four decades, it became one of the largest and most successful on the entire Maine coast. About 70 vessels of all types and tonnages took shape here, including ships, barks, barkentines, brigs, brigantines, schooners, and fast clipper ships.

Between 1873 and 1900, Holly M. Bean launched 54 vessels from what is now part of Wayfarer's yard (we still call it the "Bean Yard"). Incredibly, he built all but 19 of them alone. One of the most successful and best-known craftsmen on the entire Atlantic coast, he built the second three-master, the second five-master, and the first six-master ever launched.

During World War II, Camden Ship Building employed 1800 men and women to build 30 vessels, Minesweepers, troop transports, cargo barges, and rescue salvage tugs all slid down the ways here, bound for duty with both the United States and British armed forces. One of the world's largest wooden shipyards, Camden Ship Building received the prestigious Navy "E" pennant for its wartime efforts.

Wayfarer Marine Corporation placed an offer of $88,000 to buy Camden Shipbuilding Co. and the sale was approved by the court in September of 1963. The new owners were Thomas Watson, Jr. and Arthur K. (Dick) Watson, with Charles E. MacMullen as president.

In 1981 when Arthur Watson died Thomas Watson briefly put Wayfarer Marine on the market. He withdrew the offer shortly after, but not before it came to the attention of a Mr. Harvey Picker from Larchmont, New York. Harvey was a very successful businessman in the x-ray and imaging technology business. He also had served as Dean of the Columbia University's Graduate School of International Affairs. He became interested in a boatyard as his next business purely by accident. Apparently the owner of a yard in Mamaroneck was so impressed with Harvey's detailed diagnosis of an engine problem he had on his beloved BRANTA that he offered Harvey a job as a mechanic should he retire. While funny at the time, it sowed the seed on owning a boatyard in Harvey's mind.

An avid sailor, he had regularly cruised up to Maine for the previous 35 years with his wife Jean. The decision to buy Wayfarer was an easy one in the end as once he had visited the yard he was so impressed with the
"attitude and artisan skills of the workers" that he knew it would be a satisfying undertaking. Interestingly, he and his wife Jean planned on spending only the summers here, and winters in Long Island where he would "commute" once a month to check on things at the yard. However it didn't take long for Camden itself to win them over. The next year they sold their home in New York and moved to Camden for good.

In 1997 at the tender age of 81 Harvey thought he would like to hand over the reins, and sold the Company to a partnership of Jack Sanford and Parker Laite both Camden businessmen who were as committed to keeping the incredible Wayfarer team together as having Wayfarer continue to be the centerpiece of beautiful Camden harbor. After serving Wayfarer for ten years, Parker sold his share of the company to Shane Flynn in 2007 and Jack Sanford followed suit selling his shares to Shane in June 2008. Since 1997, numerous improvements have occured at Wayfarer, including replacing the wharf, pilings, and docks, adding new piers for the mobile boat hoist, and buying the ASCOM mobile boat hoist. Most recently, in 2006, the marina was re-designed at the head of the harbor. 


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