EASTPORT, Maine — With the launch of the Triple Trouble last week, the community took a step toward overcoming the devastation caused by the Dec. 4, 2014, collapse of the Eastport breakwater.
The 48-foot lobster boat took its maiden voyage to the Griffin family pier at Quoddy Bay Lobster in Eastport, arriving to a small crowd of well-wishers shortly after 1 p.m. May 15.
“It’s a great day to launch a boat in Eastport,” said Ruth Cash-Smith, who helped Brent and Sara Griffin obtain financing for the boat that replaces the one destroyed when the breakwater collapsed.
The Griffins’ boat, Double Trouble II, was one of three to receive major damage when the breakwater collapsed, said Eastport Port Authority Executive Director Chris Gardner. The Medric sunk and the schooner Ada Lore also suffered major damage, he said.
Sara Griffin remembered getting a phone call in the early morning hours on Dec. 4, telling her and her husband that their boat, Double Trouble II, had gone down.
“You know when you get a phone call at 2 a.m., it can’t be good news,” she said.
They got the boat out of the water for evaluation and discovered it could not be repaired. Even more devastating was the realization that the boat, purchased used in 2005, was insured for the loan amount only, and that represented only about half its value.
“So we found out we were severely underinsured,” Griffin said.
Still, the couple’s livelihood depended on having a lobster boat in the water. With the help of Cash-Smith, they were able to obtain a $150,000 bank loan along with a $90,000 TIF (tax increment financing) loan and a $15,000 TIF grant.
“We put in over $97,000 of our own money between the proceeds for the first boat and available cash on hand,” said Griffin.
The Griffins qualified for TIF funding because they live in the unorganized territory of Edmunds, said Cash-Smith, a certified business counselor with the Women’s Business Center in Machias. Although the lobster boat sails from Eastport, the business is based in Edmunds.
Brent Griffin also is part owner of Quoddy Bay Lobster, along with his father, Dale, and his two uncles, Mike and Jeff. In order to stay in business, Quoddy Bay Lobster needs the lobsters Brent Griffin catches.
“We now employ 14 [people] here at Quoddy Bay Lobster, and if we didn’t have enough lobsters, we might not be able to keep this part of it going,” Sara Griffin said.
This added value to the TIF application, she said.
Financing in hand, the Griffins contracted Dec. 15 with Cory Guimond of Millennium Marine in Eastport for a new boat to replace the Double Trouble II.
“We just didn’t want to rename it the Double Trouble, and we have three children now, so Triple Trouble seems fitting,” said Griffin, mother of Natcha, 12; Kyle, 10; and Brett, who celebrated his first birthday the day of the launch.
The Triple Trouble is the first boat completely made by Millennium for an American client, Guimond said.
The five-month turnaround was no record but was fairly quick, he said. He may have been able to build it more quickly if he didn’t have other boats in production at the same time.
About a year after moving to Eastport in May 2014, Millennium experienced a fire that damaged a number of boats in production.
“The office never shut down. We were just covered in soot,” Guimond said.
The company had to rebuild what was lost, which “kind of bottlenecked things,” he added.
The facility was fixed in February.
“Now we have a more organized production line in place,” he said.
The business is growing, and Guimond hopes to expand his core of 20 employees.
“We’d like to have at least 40 [employees] by the end of the summer,” he said.
Gardner said rebuilding the Eastport breakwater, which began in April, continues.
“It’s a slow and steady process,” he said Monday. “It continues on, and we continue to see progress every day.”
Brent Griffin said he planned to have the Triple Trouble out lobster fishing this week.
“I’m excited to have [the boat] done,” he said.