Going Up

Front Street photo by Billy BlackBilly Black

Building the buildings at Front Street Shipyard.

If there were a contest to determine what commercial builder in this country could erect the most infrastructure for a major boatyard in the least amount of time, I’d probably put my money on an outfit called Maine Coast Construction, based in Camden.

No such contest exists, of course. But surely the speed with which MCC built and renovated structures at Front Street Shipyard in nearby Belfast, Maine, deserves some recognition. The remarkably rapid growth of this brand-new yard on Penobscot Bay’s Belfast city waterfront was described by Front Street co-owner/managing partner JB Turner initially as a speaker at an IBEX 2012 technical seminar, and subsequently in an interview featuring Turner in the June/July 2013 issue (No. 143) of Professional BoatBuilder. Both the magazine article and the IBEX session that prompted it focused on plant layout, which in the special case of Front Street has been driven by several factors: the property’s long, skinny site; the site’s complex, century-old, industrial land-use history; the yard owners’ desire to concentrate its resources on being a full-service facility aimed primarily at the large-yacht market; and not least, the owners’ push to get the facility up and running as quickly as possible.

The magazine article captured all the information—and then some—delivered at IBEX, the annual trade show founded by Professional BoatBuilder in 1992 whose seminar program is not recorded. For example, the article covers Front Street’s unusual, and arguably unique, management dynamic, involving as it does (among an ownership group of six people) two individuals who each own and operate—in support of Front Street—a smaller yacht yard elsewhere on Penobscot Bay, and a third individual who owns and operates an inland manufacturing facility, likewise available to support Front Street, that specializes in fabricating custom composite parts for a diverse list of industrial customers. What we’ve not yet done, however, is provide physical descriptions of the various buildings at Front Street Shipyard.

Since Maine Coast Construction has built or supplied all the yard’s new and renovated buildings, we asked MCC owner/president John Davee to enumerate the sizes and specs of each structure, along with special features worth mentioning. (MCC was also contractor of choice at Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding in Thomaston, Maine, during JB Turner’s tenure there as a part-owner/managing partner earlier in his career. That yard’s breakthrough boatshop, Building No. 11—the basic model for two of Front Street’s biggest buildings—was the subject of an article titled “True Green” in the October/November 2008 IBEX issue of Professional BoatBuilder, No. 115).

Here, then, are Davee’s summary notes on the buildings MCC has completed to date at Front Street, plus a big shop still to come. Refer to the accompanying simplified site plan to orient yourself as you read along. And remember the timeline: every structure Davee describes below was built or rebuilt between January 2011 and February 2013; keep in mind too that unlike, say, South Florida, Maine’s construction season is constrained by some rugged winter weather.

—Paul Lazarus, Senior Editor


Yard Layout

Building No. 3, the first project we did for the yard, called for an extensive renovation of a 60′ x 70′ (18.3m x 21.3m) existing structure with an attached 50′ x 50′ (15.2m x 15.2m) building. Eave height for both is 16′ (4.9m). No. 3 was in total disrepair except for the primary structure; we installed new windows, new siding, and new standing-seam metal roofing; we also upgraded R-values for the roof (to R-35) and walls (to R-25) utilizing a trademarked insulation-and-finishing system called Simple Saver that lends itself to pre-engineered metal buildings. (The system is marketed by Thermal Design, a Wisconsin-based firm.) Inside, we installed a new bathroom for employees, a new heating system, a new shipping-and-receiving area, and a new woodworking shop.

Next, we started construction on Building No. 5, designed to accommodate a 165-U.S.-ton (150-metric-ton) Marine Travelift. Principal dimensions are 140′ x 160′ x 49′ (42.7m x 48.8m x 14.9m) with a 1:12 roof pitch. We took delivery of the steel frame, supplied by manufacturer Varco Pruden Buildings (Memphis, Tennessee), on September 12, 2011. Front Street moved a 106′ (32.3m) motoryacht into the building just before Thanksgiving, and MCC finished construction by Christmas. This building has one 24′-wide by 160′-long (7.3m by 48.8m) centerline mezzanine. That substructure, 12′ (3.6m) high, houses offices, a stockroom on the ground floor, an employee breakroom, bathrooms, and machinery spaces as well as offering plenty of boatshop space. No. 5 is outfitted with one 10-ton (9.1-MT) and two 5-ton (4.5-MT) overhead cranes. Running along both sides of the building are 10.5′-wide (3.2m) mezzanines (one affording 12′ height, the second 24′) for storage, shop space, and staging platforms. The endwall has two 42′-wide by 40.8′-high (12.8m x 12.4m) strap-lift, Schweiss Bi-Fold doors.

This building has a ventilation and filtration system capable of handling high-quality spray painting, with an option for heated makeup air. It is also equipped with compressed air and vacuum lines throughout. No. 5 is well insulated with an R-35 roof and R-25 Simple Saver system; consider that the propane heating cost for February 2013—remember: this is Maine, on the waterfront, middle of winter—was only $2,500, which is true testament to the building’s energy-efficient performance.

Concurrent with the work on Building No. 5 we renovated Building No. 4, whose principal dimensions are 102′ x 140′ x 18′ (31.1m x 42.7m x 5.5m), with a 1:12 roof pitch. The yard spray-painted the siding and trim to match its other buildings. We installed four new overhead doors measuring 30′ x 20′ (9.1m x 6.1m); 30′ x 16′ (9.1m x 4.9m); 20′ x 16′ (6.1m x 4.9m); and 8′ x 8′ (2.4m x 2.4m), along with a full-height insulated interior partition. We also installed mast-storage racks.

During this same time frame we supplied the materials package for Building No. 4A: an 80′ x 130′ (24.4m x 39.6m) structure fitted with a 4-ton (3.6-MT) underhung crane, gas-fired radiant heat, high-efficiency lighting, and four 25′ x 22′ (7.6m x 6.7m) overhead doors.

Building No. 1 was begun in June 2012 and completed that September. It is 80′ wide by 195′ (24.4m x 59.4m) long with a 1.625:12 roof pitch and a 26′ (7.9m) eave height. Inside, we finished off a 37′ x 80′ (11.3m x 24.4m) two-story area for multiple use: offices, laundry, restroom, lounge. There are four 25′ x 24′ overhead doors plus one at 25′ x 22′. A new spray-booth measuring 30′ x 80′ will be operational by April 2013. Outside, a canopy and deck attach to this building for access to the yard’s docks.

Come summer 2013, we’re scheduled to start construction on Building No. 6, which can accommodate the yard’s new Italian-made (by Cimolai) 485-U.S.-ton (440-MT) marine hoist. No. 6 will be a Varco Pruden structure similar to No. 5: standing-seam roof, specially formulated paint finish (trade name KXL), and panel rib siding. Dimensions are 140′ wide by 160′ long by 59′ eave height (42.7m by 48.8m by 18m), with a 1:12 roof pitch. It will attach to No. 5, resulting in a 44,800-sq-ft (4,162m2) structure; an additional 8,000-sq-ft (743.2m2) expansion is planned. No. 6’s big door will be 100′ wide by 55′ high (30.5m by 16.8m); it’s a slider on tracks, made by Norco. There will be multiple 20′-wide full-length mezzanines with working heights of 12′, 24′, and 36′.

The building is slated to have two 5-ton, 100′-wide underhung radio-controlled bridge cranes for efficient production. The building slab will have propane-fired radiant heat, able to support up to 450 tons (408 MT). Supplemental heat—to raise the ambient air temperature from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C)—is to be accomplished with unit heaters. No. 6’s ventilation system as well as its compressed air and vacuum pump systems will be similar to No. 5’s.

—John Davee

Article Category: Yards