Maine boatbuilders partner on sailboat production

BUCKSPORT, Maine — Union River Boats and Lyman Morse have begun a joint venture that could lead to the Maine boatbuilders eventually producing as many as 100 boats per year, the Bangor News reported in a story yesterday.

The companies hope to begin building the new design — 48-foot sailboats — for an undisclosed customer sometime next year, the newspaper reported.

The project will require a $1.25 million investment spread between the two companies, according to Belle Ryder, operations manager at Union River, who said the customer is confident that there is a market for the boats, and that the demand will grow to meet their projections.

“Our customer has a lot of experience,” Ryder told the newspaper. “Their projections were made based on a bad economy. It’s a risk. But it is a risk we think is worth taking.”

The venture calls for Union River to build the fiberglass hulls and other components at its Bucksport, Maine facility. In Thomaston, Maine, Lyman Morse will assemble those components, install interiors and add power, other systems and the rigging. It also will conduct sea trials, the Bangor News reported.

The venture will start slowly, but Ryder said that by the fifth year production could reach as many as 100 boats annually.

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If all goes well, Union River will begin the tooling process — building the new forms for the hull and other components — sometime in March or April, and deliver the first hull to Lyman Morse in July or August. On that schedule, the first hull would be launched in the spring of 2010, the newspaper reported.

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