2008-01-31 / Front Page

Clark siblings revive family boatyard after a 12-year hiatus

By Michaela Kennedy

The Clark family will open their boat yard this week. They hope to bring a New England feel to the operation on Racquet Road. Photo by Sam Bari
Four siblings, all children of Francis and Maxine Clark, will join forces again after a 12-year hiatus to restore their boatyard at 110 Racquet Rd. to the quality status of a full service boatyard and marina. The Clark Boatyard and Marine Works will open for business on Feb. 1 and the Clarks welcome all to come ask about the excitement.

The Clark family is bringing home the art of a traditional New England boatyard. "We look to offer a complete service of maintenance, storage and repair," says Francis "Tiny" Clark, senior consultant and father of the clan. His grandfather founded the boatyard in 1934, and Tiny grew up knowing and living the marina life.

Tiny, who seems to fit the nickname of "Captain" better, tells of the days he saw bustling activity on the waterfront at Racquet Road. "We've had up to 75 boats in the marina," he says.

His son Mike, a specialist in welding and electronics who has worked continually at the boatyard for the last 30 years, and is overjoyed to see his family pulling together to preserve a family legacy. "I think it's great," he says, smiling around the table at the other family members. "We want to run it to its potential."

Mike's brother Jim, a builder by trade and owner of JC Construction, describes how the partners are modeling the business after a traditional New England boatyard and marina, similar to the type found in Maine. "We are incorporating modern equipment with a traditional feel," Jim notes.

Sarah, the only sister of the siblings, knows the business as well, with 12 years of experience at the boatyard, and shares her brothers' eagerness to see the boatyard expand. "The opportunity came about for us to take over the business when the lease ran out," she explains. Sarah will run the office.

Gary, another brother and a woodwork specialist, also worked at the boatyard with the former managers that leased the property from the Clarks. He, too, is excited about reuniting with his sister and brothers to nurture the artistry they bring to the business. Gary expresses his eagerness to offer expert, authentic wooden boat repair. He is the general manager of the operation.

Running the boatyard and marina to its potential will translate to more convenience for the customer, the family agrees. The company boasts the deepest marina railway on the island, with the capacity to accommodate up to 100-ft. vessels in a 12-ft. depth. Mike says he never tires of watching a huge vessel launched or hauled out. "Even after all these years of seeing that, it's an exciting sight to see every time," he exclaims.

The family members agree that they want their business to expand far beyond just a haul-out service. In the past, up to 60 boats have been stored at the facility on Racquet Road, and full repair services, from wiring and engines to fiberglass and wooden boat restoration have been offered.

The Clark family exudes confi- dence that the boatyard offers expertise and convenience for about the same price paid by many to transport their boat and have repairs done elsewhere. "The cost of transporting a boat from the boatyard to someone's residence is almost the same," Francis Clark noted, adding that sailing yachts stored on premises could leave their masts up. "They have to be taken down for transport."

Boaters will have the option of keeping their boats in dry dock and launching the boats when they use them. "It's easier on the hulls," Mike says.

As the siblings dive together into the family specialty again, they are considering amenities that will make life easier, and more fun, for boat lovers. From dinghies to large yachts, the Clarks are thinking about accessible boat racks and a possible launch service. The Clarks welcome questions from educational tours for students studying about local culture to winter frostbiters looking for a place to sail. They agree the more ideas the better. "We are giving it a facelift in keeping with the area," Tiny says.

For more information about the Clark boatyard, call 423-DOCK (3625) or write to clarkboatyard@ gmail.com.

Return to top