62nd annual Windjammer Days

Boatbuilder: Skip Orne

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 8:45am

    The 62nd annual Boothbay Harbor Windjammer Days will take place on Sunday, June 23 through Saturday, June 29. This year we will celebrate our local boatbuilders and shipwrights. Please visit boothbayharborwindjammerdays.org for the full schedule of events.

    Skip Orne started boatbuilding when he was young, around 12 or 13 years old. He recalls helping his father, Kenneth Orne, with the rebuild of a smaller lobster boat on the weekends. He was able to learn a lot about boats, fairness of hulls and a lot of sanding! They used the boat to go lobstering in Linekin Bay that summer, which gave Skip an appreciation of what all the hard work had been for. Growing up in the area, with having family history/heritage in boatbuilding, Skip always had an interest in boats and crafting things. The feeling of accomplishment with seeing things many years down the road that he had been a part of creating. These are some experiences that led him to his now 30-year career in boatbuilding.  

    After college, Skip wanted to learn how to build his own house. He worked with various contractors, Skip also worked alongside his father more on small boat repairs and commercial fiberglass projects. He then worked at Goudy & Stevens when they were building the ferry boats for Bermuda. It was back in 1985 or 1986 where he met and learned from quite a few local boatbuilders about steel, wood and fiberglass. He joined up with John Abbe to help remodel the Opera House where his interest in boatbuilding was sparked further working alongside John.  

    Skip has worked with such great people/craftsmen over the years who have helped in getting him to where he is at today. Tim Hodgdon was his biggest influence. Tim’s desire to stay at the forefront of the boatbuilding process allowed Skip to further his knowledge and skills, which spring-boarded him into instructing and mentoring others. Tim was always a reminder that doing the proper prep brings the best to the final project, saying that "If you're not five minutes early, you're five minutes late." Skip is very proud to be a part of the high school mentoring program they set up together.

    Andre Cocquyt, Master Composite Boatbuilder, was also kind enough to take Skip under his wing and furthered his knowledge of advanced composite boatbuilding immensely. Skip helped him set up the MATC (Maine Advanced Technologies Center) at the old Times Record building in Brunswick, which was then folded into SMCC and relocated to the Brunswick Air Base. Skip has worked for/as an adjunct instructor for SMCC/USM ever since along with certifying people in the Vacuum Infusion Process. There are many others, like John Abbe and John Ramsey, who showed Skip an incredible amount of building and crafting skills. Skip has learned to listen as there are many ways to get to the end result, just try to keep the path steady and focused. When working as a team on large projects, everyone's job is critical to its success.   

    Some notable projects include, "Mako," a Navy Seal Technology Demonstrator built at Hodgdon Yachts with advanced composite materials and processes. Skip was able to help from the beginning, building many test panels and using very interesting material to prove the process chosen for this project, the Vacuum Infusion Process. They then tailored the process for future builds at Hodgdon, which they used on some special projects that won the Governor's Innovation Award. Skip was at Lyman Morse when they built (Navier) the advanced composite carbon fiber hull, deck and parts for a light weight build to allow for the foiling fins and electric motors.

    One of Skip’s favorite projects was being a part of the Comanche build, the last large boat built at Hodgdon, which has gone on to capture world records for a monohull sailboat. They were challenged to bring the A game and the team from Hodgdon did an outstanding job working together with world class boatbuilders. Setting up to build the hull tool was a huge task but went very smoothly. At the time it was the single largest carbon fiber oneshot vacuum infused part in the US to date. Recently he has been building a unique hybrid stringer/longitudinal grid system for a large cold molded boat being built by Rockport Marine. They subcontracted out the structural composite work to Steve Hassett at Custom Composites in Bath, where Skip is a sub/consultant. This grid system will also be integral fuel, water, gray water and black water tankage  

    Skip plans to continue building boats and to pass along the skills and knowledge he has through continued mentoring and instructing. The newer trends tend to be geared towards electric vessels, continuing to press the abilities of the materials and build specs. He would like to keep at the forefront of building processes and materials, but also stay close to his roots and work within the Boothbay community.