Situated on its familiar corner of the Lagoon Pond in Vineyard Haven, Maciel Marine holds a respected place in the long history of boatbuilding on the Vineyard.
Boatbuilder and designer Erford W. Burt purchased the three-acre property in June 1945.
Mr. Burt was one of the most prolific boatbuilders on the Island, and among other things built the Island’s first boats powered by engines.
He began his career working with Manuel Swartz Roberts, the iconic boatbuilder who built some 200 catboats at his shed on the Edgartown waterfront. Later Mr. Burt went to work at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipbuilding Company. By the age of 42, as World War II was coming to an end, Mr. Burt had distinguished himself in building all kinds of boats, and stepped out on his own at the Lagoon Pond property.
The three-acre lot was mostly fill from Bass Creek and belonged to the estate of Charles Brown. At the time of purchase the site was called the Jedediah Cromwell Place, located below the Marine Hospital. Back then Lagoon Pond Road was called Howard avenue.
The shop, a large building on the site of the boatyard which now houses the offices, was assembled by Mr. Burt and was previously a Baptist church in North Tisbury that had been severely damaged in the 1944 hurricane. Mr. Burt took the structure apart plank by plank and reassembled it on the property. With its history as a church, the boatshed was affectionately dubbed the Bass Creek Meetinghouse.
In January 1946, the Gazette reported that Mr. Burt had started three boats. All were built of Island oak milled on the Vineyard. One was a catboat; another one was powered by a 25-horsepower engine.
Two years later, the Gazette reported that Mr. Burt was handling one of the first boats made of fiberglass from off-Island, a 12-foot catboat. “The arrival of this craft marks the decline of an era of boat construction and the birth of another, as certainly as ever did the discovery of steam or the process of making metal hulls,” wrote Joseph Chase Allen in the Gazette.
Kayaks, a Maine peapod, well-powered recreational fishing boats and bass boats were all built at Maciel Marine. A few of the bass boats — considered perfect in their day for speeding out of the harbor to a fishing spot, fulfilling a task and coming home in short time — are still afloat. There is one Burt bass boat on site at the boatyard, called Kittiwake III, that was built in 1952 and belongs to John Thayer, who runs a woodworking shop there.
Mr. Burt was perhaps best known for the Vineyard Haven 15, a 21-foot one-design sailboat that he first built in 1934 and continued building until 1970. About 50 of those boats were made according to the Vineyard Haven 15 website.
The Gem is another Burt-built one-design fiberglass sailboat, built in the 1960s. The 18.8-foot sloop included a genoa and a spinnaker.
In the spring of 1967 Mr. Burt’s son Henry O. Burt and his partner Henry R. Fauteaux bought the boatyard. Erford Burt continued to work at the boatyard. He died in 1993 at the age of 90.
In 1985 Robert E. Maciel of West Tisbury bought the boatyard from the Burt family after having leased it for two years. Prior to moving to the Lagoon Pond site, Mr. Maciel ran a small boat repair business in the airport business park. But the Burt boatyard had been a familiar place from his childhood.
“When I was in school, I used to walk past Erford Burt’s boatyard every day. He befriended me,” Mr. Maciel recalled this week. “When I was in high school the teacher asked the students what they wanted to do when they grew up. I said I want to run a boatyard.” Mr. Maciel said he treasures his memories of spending summers helping Mr. Burt and later running the boatyard.
Mr. Maciel renamed it Maciel Marine and expanded the business, adding docks, more storage space for boats and a service to install and tend moorings.
In 1998, Mr. Maciel leased the business to his son Steven Maciel and Geoff Banfield, but retained ownership of the property.
In 2011 a fire broke out at the boatyard, causing extensive damage in the shop. The cause was later ruled accidental and repairs were made.
The sale this week to George Rogers and his wife Sheryl Roth Rogers marks the third family to take the helm at the boatyard, which will be renamed Martha’s Vineyard Marina.