Profile: Arey's Pond Boat Yard
This is one in a series of profiles of the boatbuilders participating in the Boatbuilders Show on Cape Cod. The show is the premier event for the region's boatbuilders, a local industry that sustains and grows the traditional craft.
The Boatbuilders Show on Cape Cod is an opportunity for potential
buyers to learn how much craftsmanship goes into each boat, he
"They're used to the Boston boat show or Providence or whatnot and it's a whole different level of experience," he said about attendees at the Cape show, adding that the designs on display are similar in some ways but with very different details.
Visitors will also likely be talking to the person who designed and built the boat in front of them.
"In (a) boat show like the Cape Cod boatbuilders show the person asking the questions and getting interested in the particular boat that the builder's bringing realize this is their life," he said. "I'm not talking to a salesman."
It's also a boat that was built locally. And, while there may be some sticker shock at first, the cost is comparable to other boats and even other popular activities.
"You know biking is huge on the Cape so a bike, a well-made bike, is like $12,000," Davis said. "We can build a really nice rowing skiff for like $12,000 so you can put it in the back of your car, on your rack, and you go out for a nice row in a handmade beautiful rowboat and ... you're working your upper body not your lower body, but you're getting a workout in a beautiful handmade boat."
It's important for potential buyers to consider the Cape show and what local boatbuilders can offer before assuming they need to buy an inventory boat, he said.
The show also makes it a little easier on the local boatbuilders who would otherwise have to trailer their products much farther for a similar showcase. Because the show is local, they get to go home and sleep in their own beds at night, he said.
The show is also a visible display of the potential size of an
industry that gets far more support in other New England states,
"You add up all the employees from the boatyards in Provincetown all the way down to Falmouth, that's some numbers," he said.
And, although his boatyard isn't making much money, it provides cash flow and gives employees an opportunity to do what they love, Davis said.
"We're doing something we're passionate about and there's a lot to be said for that in this day and age," he said. "It's all about jobs, living on the Cape"
The alternative is a seasonal community where workers are bussed in to work at resorts, according to Davis.
"Is that what you want?" he said. "No, of course not, you want industries like boatyards."
Davis said he struggles to ensure his employees can make a living.
"The most stress I carry is being able to make sure these guys can make a decent living," he said. "We do 100% health and try to make it a living wage but it's hard."
For many boatbuilders on Cape Cod and beyond - some who run their own shops now - the boatyard's waterfront facility on its namesake pond is where they first cut their teeth (and probably a few fingers).
The location a short sail from Little Pleasant Bay is no longer used for boatbuilding because of environmental concerns but is still a busy waterfront operation that includes an active sailing school and a canvas shop a short distance away.
It's a full service operation and a lifestyle.
"We'll teach you how to sail, get you a mooring, or we can build you a boat or we can maintain a boat for you," Davis said. "We're a sailing center, we teach sailing - private and group lessons - and that's sort of our mantra, we want people to know how to sail. We like to think of ourselves as a neighborhood yard."
Patrick Cassidy is a Harwich-based writer. He is also the founder and captain of Cape Cod on the Fly, a boat and shore guide service to fly fishing the flats of Cape Cod.