BELGRADE LAKES — As Shawn Grant closed in on 50, he dreamed of starting a business restoring wooden boats.

All his life, he loved their vintage design, the low bellowing sound they make when piercing the water, and their harmonious feel as they glide along.

Three years ago, he decided to take the plunge.

He wrote his own business plan and sold several collectible cars to purchase the tools, equipment and wooden rental boats that are tied up at his dock on Mills Stream.

He hopes to someday increase his fleet to include wooden sailboats.

“I thought about it all the time,” Grant said. “The beauty of a wooden boat, if you keep them up, is that they don’t depreciate. They’re an investment. I’ve owned 30 wooden boats in my life and probably (only) lost money with the fiberglass boats I’ve owned.”

Grant built a home on Hulin Road in Belgrade Lakes 15 years ago. He has since attached a single-bay workshop to his house; a two-bay, two story workshop on the other side of the driveway; and acquired more than 300 feet of shorefront on Mills Stream, which connects Great Pond with Long Pond.

His future plans for the business include a storage facility.

“I have 14 acres of land, which is enough to do this,” he said. “The future can be nothing but bright.”

Which brings us to his logo.

The business is called Brightside Wooden Boat Services. Grant said he knew that he wanted three strokes of a paint brush in his logo and a transom, which is the back part of a boat or ship.

“And the sides of a wooden boat are considered the brightsides,” he said. “It’s a play on words and has a number of different meanings.”

Currently, Grant is working on several canoes, including Steve Liberty’s Webster Craft, built in the 1940s.

Liberty said he doesn’t know the whole story behind the Websters — and that there aren’t many people around who do.

“Dave Webster and his dad, Harold, built fishing boats,” said Liberty, who lives in Rome. “There’s probably half a dozen of their boats around in various stages of condition. I wanted it restore it just because it’s a classic old boat.

“Some things are meant to stay alive, you know what I mean? And I did it for sentimental reasons. My mother-in-law gave it to me.”

His mother-in-law, Barbara Webster, was married to David, a native of Belgrade who has since passed away. David Webster once owned Great Pond Marina and operated the mailboat made famous in the movie “On Golden Pond.”

Another customer, Karel Jacobs, also of Rome, has asked Grant to completely overhaul and restore his 1947 Gibbs Gas Engine Co. boat. His family has owned it since the 1960s.

“We had a good time with it. We puttered around the lake,” Jacobs said. “It’s not a speed boat. It used to take half an hour to get from one end of the lake to the other. It’s a nice boat for trolling, but that’s about it.”

Grant employees two experience boat builders: Jim Wachter of Vienna and Richard Woodward of Farmington.


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