‘Doris and me’: Third time proves charm for new Appledore

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 7:15am

At 12 and a half feet long and built of plywood with a pair of designs Herb Smith found in WoodenBoat, the latest Appledore will be launched privately in Boothbay Harbor, probably this month, the Newcastle man said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony is for family only, the boatbuilder, author and former Disney animal photographer said. “The spirits are coming,” spirits of family and friends who have died, he said.

A recorded bagpipes version of “Amazing Grace” will play from the bow,  “because it’s purely amazing grace that (wife) Doris and I finished this boat,” he said. He cut up and threw away his first try. “Something told me to start again. I (did) and something didn’t work out.” Again, he cut it up and threw it away, he said. He was getting the directions wrong.

“And the third time ... just by working persistently, 15 minutes a day and when I felt in the mood, and it’s done, eight months later.” It is built for two: “Doris and me.”

Smith’s wife of about 46 years did not go for his idea to name the boat after her. So instead of Doris R, it will be Appledore Child, in homage to the part of her childhood spent on Appledore Island, off Kittery.

Appledore Child has no motor. “Strictly sail. If the wind dies, we paddle it.” 

As he spoke by phone, he said Doris, back from grocery shopping, was sanitizing everything she bought. Interviewed later, she explained why she did not want the boat to bear her name. “He’s building the boat. It’s his boat,” and it will be fun to ride in together, she added. “He’s almost 80 years old. But he hasn’t stopped. He continues to dream, and to build.”

He also still writes books. The latest, still underway, involves Doris’s youth. She said he claims he saw her on Appledore Island when he was sailing around there. “But at that point, I was so young, I couldn’t have cared less,” she said, laughing. “You know he is 10 or 11 years older than I am.”

The Smiths have built or have had built five Appledore schooners. Herb said, “This is the sixth Appledore.”