Here’s a big change for Wilbur Yachts, the traditional builder of Down East boats in Southwest Harbor, Maine. Lee Wilbur started the company in 1973 and built more than 200 classic lobster boats there over the years, working with such iconic boating names as Jarvis Newman, Ralph Stanley, Ralph Ellis and Raymond Bunker, among others. In 2001, Wilbur sold the company to his daughter, Heidi, and her husband, John Kachmar, who’ve been running it ever since.
Now Kachmar has come up with an entirely new look for Wilbur – a Wilbur 37 Weekender. Powered by twin 425-hp Yamaha outboards, the new Wilbur will top out at just under 48 knots – about 40 knots faster than the original Wilburs.
Kachmar says he explored the idea of a fast, outboard-powered weekender with Geoff Dickes, of Dickes Yacht Design in Palm Coast, Florida. Dickes specializes in planing hulls from 30 to 70 feet. They agreed that the current trend to outboard power is here to stay, for many reasons:
The motor is outside the boat, so it’s quieter and cleaner than an inboard of comparable power. Outboards are generally faster than inboards, and they offer the ability to control the thrust vector or trim. And they have a big advantage when its time to repower. “No surgery required,” Kachmar said. “You simply unbolt the old motors and bolt on the new ones, make the connections and off you go.”
Then they got to the details of the boat. It had to have a true walk-around island berth, a head compartment with enough space for a stall shower, “a galley that could produce a real meal and not just a couple of sandwiches,” an enclosed wheelhouse, and a large, open cockpit for outdoor activities. The new Wilbur 37 Weekender has all that.
It also has a clean, long sheerline, a low profile and a Down East aesthetic, even with the outboards. It won’t be of much use pulling up lobster pots, but it certainly would make a wonderful way for a couple or small family to enjoy cruising around Maine or anywhere else, for that matter. For more: