A lobster boat with a long history of plying the waters around the Friendship peninsula will stay in the fishing community, changing hands from one generation to another, thanks to a generous donation.
Bill Ambrose, of North Yarmouth, the boat’s previous owner and a frequent visitor to his family’s cottage in Friendship, wanted to pass his historic fishing vessel, Caroline, on to a young
Bill Ambrose passed away in September 2015 at the age of 77, from pancreatic cancer.
Prior to his passing, he met Taylah Reed, a freshman at Medomak Valley High School, through Reed’s grandfather, Henry Thompson Sr.
Bill Ambrose and Reed talked, and two days after the meeting, he contacted the freshman and told her the Caroline was hers.
“He said it was mine under two conditions, that I brought him lobsters and drove the boat by his house so he could see me driving it,” Reed said.
Unfortunately, Bill Ambrose passed away before he could see Reed at the wheel, but she was able to deliver the promised lobsters.
Reed expressed appreciation for Bill Ambrose’s gift.
“He was a really nice guy – wicked nice. He told me he wanted me to have the boat,” Reed said.
The lobster boat is a 27-foot-long wooden vessel dating back to 1948.
The Caroline was completely rebuilt at Lash Brothers Boat Yard in Friendship in 1986 and has spent its career as a fishing and leisure vessel in the Midcoast.
“Most of its history has been here in town,” said Peni Sevon, Reed’s mother.
Though the exact origin of the boat is unknown, it is believed to have been built on North Haven or Vinalhaven.
Bill Ambrose’s daughter, Dr. Edith Ambrose, of New Orleans, said his family is “thrilled the boat is still going to be in the harbor.”
Ambrose said the boat required a lot of maintenance and it was hard for her father to keep up with the work, especially after his diagnosis.
He wanted to keep the boat in the harbor and came up with the idea to give it to a local fisherman,” Edith Ambrose said.
Bill Ambrose’s daughter fondly remembers the family’s time on the Caroline during summers in Friendship.
“It’s my favorite boat,” she said.
She said the family has been visiting Friendship for several generations, with the Caroline being a slightly more recent addition to their summers in Maine, purchased by her father from a lobsterman around 1990.
The Ambroses would use the vessel to picnic on the islands of Muscongus Bay.
The young fisherman
Reed renamed the vessel Half Pint. Before receiving the vessel, Reed and her sternman and stepsister, Olivia Sevon, also a freshman at Medomak Valley High School, fished from skiffs and rowboats, hauling traps by hand.
Reed has gained experience on Thompson’s lobster boat, but the Half Pint gives the pair of high school fishermen a full-size vessel, which hauling gear will be added to, to learn the trade on.
As she works toward her lobster license with the help of her grandfather, Reed has to complete a U.S. Coast Guard safety course and log 2,000 hours in her captain’s log book.
“I go out as (Thompson’s) sternman. However long we go out, I put that down in the book,” Reed said.
According to Thompson, as long as Reed is a student, she can continue working toward her goal of becoming a lobster boat captain.
Thompson spoke highly of Reed’s new vessel and said the boat’s 318 Chrysler marine motor has 400-500 hours on it.
Reed said she became interested in fishing at a young age, an interest aided by the strong commercial fishing culture in Friendship.
“I have grown up on the water and a couple years ago I started to get my own tags,” she said.
The Half Pint is currently at Lash Brothers undergoing minor repairs. Reed said she hopes to launch it at some point in the spring.
She said she is looking forward to getting out on the water once the boat is in the harbor.
“Being out on the ocean is my favorite part,” Reed said.
Olivia Sevon also has substantial experience working on the water from going tuna-fishing with her father. Most of their family members are fishermen, she said.
Family members expressed gratitude to Ambrose for the donation of the boat and to community members for their help, including Wesley Lash, who assisted with work on the vessel at Lash Brothers, and Kevin Benner, who helped transport the vessel to and from Lash Brothers.
Ambrose said her family is looking forward to seeing their old boat back out on Muscongus Bay.
“We love Friendship. When my mother goes back to the cottage this year, I know she is looking forward to hearing and seeing the boat go in and out of the harbor again,” Ambrose said.