July / August 2019

Lutwick’s Boatbuilding & Repair

Bill Lutwick’s place in Nova Scotia’s boatbuilding culture
Lutwick’s Boatbuilding & Repair building

The building where Lutwick’s Boatbuilding & Repair operates has been used as a boatshop since 1929, and Bill Lutwick has been operating his business there since 1984. The Tancook schooner AMASONIA, shown here fresh from a refit started in January 2017, came with an unusual, but perfectly welcome and appreciated, apprentice: her owner, Lorne Leahey.

On a sunny July 20, 2018, the freshly painted schooner AMASONIA was eased back into the waters of Nova Scotia’s Mahone Bay. She is a handsome specimen of a 38' wooden Tancook schooner, and she was finally afloat again after an extensive rebuilding at Lutwick’s Boatbuilding & Repair.

Her owner, Lorne Leahey, was there, dressed in workman’s clothes and looking more like a boatbuilder than the retired pediatric orthopedic surgeon that he is. He worked through two winters side by side with Bill Lutwick to rebuild AMASONIA, making him, at age 68, perhaps the oldest apprentice in Nova Scotia’s history of wooden boat building.

Leahey brought AMASONIA to Lutwick’s shop in the summer of 2016 with a persistent leak around her rudderpost. It was clear then that although the leak could be remedied, AMASONIA had larger problems. Leahey had owned AMASONIA for 29 years and now faced the challenge of caring for an 83-year-old wooden boat. A rebuild would cost more than the boat’s eventual market value. But Leahey’s motivation was not financial, and he had been setting funds aside so that when the time came he would be ready.

Why was he all-in for a large project on such an old boat that would yield no financial return? AMASONIA, he said, was a family boat of great personal importance. “She was feeling her age, and I wanted to do the job before it was too late. To ensure that she would be ready for the next generations—my kids are grown up and there are now two grandchildren—I wanted to know that they would become stewards of an old wooden boat that was in great condition.” Leahey also had sailed many different boats during his life, some of them wooden ones built in Nova Scotia, and, in his opinion, no other locally built boat was as well balanced, could be sailed as confidently, nor could keep her crew so comfortable as AMASONIA. “She was the best craft to buffer you from the forces of Mother Nature; to sail [her] has always been something special,” he says.

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