March / April 2020

Bringing GO GO GIRL Home

A master builder defers retirement to rescue an iconic McIntosh ghost
Paul Rollins

Paul Rollins, a boatbuilder working in York, Maine, poses with the Bud McIntosh–built sloop GO GO GIRL in December 2019. After seeing the boat featured in “Save a Classic” in WoodenBoat, he was instantly motivated by his personal connection and friendship with Bud to restore her.

It’s crazy,” boatwright Paul Rollins tells me, referring to the half-finished restoration of the 39' Bud McIntosh sloop that I’m admiring at Paul’s boatshop in York, Maine. “Absolutely crazy, in so many ways.”

But there’s more than judgment in his voice. There’s amusement and surprise, along with love and no small blast of nostalgia. I know a little something about these feelings for this boat.

“When it comes to GO GO GIRL, there’s a lot to talk about,” Paul says.

GO GO GIRL is the design (along with her sister, MERRYWING) immortalized in David C. “Bud” McIntosh’s classic book How to Build a Wooden Boat. WoodenBoat’s technical editor, Maynard Bray, has called this book the “bible for boatbuilders everywhere.” The boat design and construction, detailed in the book, helped to inspire a new generation of boatwrights in America (and beyond) and a renaissance at a time when the art and craft of creating a boat out of wood became nearly obsolete as the fiberglass revolution revved on.

Paul and I were boys when Bud built MERRYWING and GO GO GIRL (a name Bud hated for its sexism and flamboyance) in the 1960s. We were young men making our way in the maritime trades when Bud published his book in 1987. But I can still remember sitting in the half-finished cockpit of one of Bud’s near-clones of GO GO GIRL in the fall of 1972 with Bud dragging on the butt of a Lucky Strike and telling me stories about a lifetime of building 500 gross tons of boats, one at a time. He called the effort a brave thing, a beautiful thing, a joyful thing, and, as he later wrote in his book, an “emotional experience almost unique in this modern world.” He told me about good times building boats with his younger brother, Ned, back in the 1930s before each of them launched their independent boatbuilding careers following World War II.

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