Twenty-three years ago, Hargy Heap, of Yarmouth, who was then in the paint business in Massachusetts, decided to sell the beloved family catboat, a twenty-two-foot Crocker keel model. Two growing Heaps were disenchanted with the cruising scene and Hargy and his wife, Judy, decided their cruising days were over. No sooner was the boat's sale accomplished, however, than Hargy panicked. "I just had to get out on the water," he recalls.
A sailing friend suggested that Heap go see Arthur Martin, the Boston naval architect and sculling enthusiast who was just then moving to Maine to manufacture ocean rowing shells in a labor of love that was to make him widely revered as the father of modern recreational rowing. After delivering his old catboat to Rye, New Hampshire, Heap took off on a four-mile row in Martin's wake.
"Like a lot of others who went rowing with Arthur," Heap reports, "I was hooked!" Within a couple of months, he had purchased one of Martin's Alden shells and had become sufficiently accomplished to enter Martin's annual, seven-mile, open-ocean Isles of Shoals race. He's been rowing Alden shells and participating in the race, which he has won four times, ever since.
In 1975, Heap transferred his rowing full time to Maine after he bought a decoy-making business in Freeport, later moving it to Bowdoinham. He sold that business in 1990, and the following year combined avocation with vocation when he took over an Alden dealership, selling shells from the top of his car and taking them to the Yarmouth Town Landing for demonstrations. Car-top selling proved frustrating, however, he reports, so the next year he made a deal to install a float and a runway in a shallow portion of Ralph Stevens' Yankee Marina in Yarmouth, creating the Casco Bay Rowing center. The center, now with two floats and room to stow a growing fleet of shells, fulfills a longtime dream of rowers in the Portland area, making it easier for scullers to launch their boats. From May through October, Heap offered rowing lessons, rentals, and sales at the center to a growing clientele of rowing enthusiasts of both sexes and all ages. For many, he says, rowing has become an important part of their fitness regimen as well as a relaxing pleasure.
A couple of years ago, Heap tried taking his shells south to Florida for the winter, but he has decided to discontinue the practice. "I'm a cross-country skier," he says, "and I missed skiing and the Maine winter," This past winter in Maine suited him just fine, but Hargy and a lot of his clients are getting itchy right now for those first mild days of May.
This website is dedicated to the life and legacy of Arthur E. Martin, Naval Architect. Known as the Father of Recreational Rowing, Arthur helped to create a new sport in this country with his invention of the Alden Ocean Shell, the original one-man rowing shell utilizing a sliding seat and 9'-9" sculling oars.
This website and accompanying videos are designed to complement the 2010 Arthur E. Martin exhibit at the Kittery Historical & Naval Museum, located at 200 Rogers Road Extension, in Kittery Maine.
This website, accompanying videos and museum exhibit would not have been possible without the vision and efforts of Kent Allyn of Kittery Point, Maine. Kent recognized this as a "story that must be told" and worked tirelessly with Marjorie Martin Burgard, the Martin family and other key people to make this possible. Marjorie extends a heart-felt "Thank-you" to Kent for all of his contributions!
All content contained in this website is from the personal collection of Marjorie Martin Burgard, Arthur's wife of 24 years.
"If you are a philosopher, and not in too much of a hurry to stop and dream a little, picture yourself as an oarsman, in the calm of early evening ...gliding along through the clear water, arms, legs and back moving in near perfect rhythm, the silence complete but for the regular click of the oars in the oarlocks, and the water rippling and swirling away from the shell and the blades... You will not be in a hurry, for you are already where you want to be.You will not be bored, for the challenge of the sea is eternal. You will not be worried, for there is no room in the boat for the heavy burdens of life ashore...your silent passage discharges no poisons on the water nor harms a living thing. You will feel humble in the grandeur of your surroundings, but you will be envious of no man. You will be completely alone, but not lonely. You will have an inner glow...that can not be duplicated. You will be living."
Arthur Martin, NA - excerpt from his book "Life in the Slow Lane" Peter E. Randall Publisher 1990
For more than 270 degrees, there is an almost unbroken expanse of bright blue water. The curving line where sea and sky meet suggests unlimited horizons, stretching on forever, always in sight, but never in reach, unfettered by the petty machinations of man, always for me spelling freedom.
For the thousandth time, I stick my head out of the starboard window for a closer look at the clear, deep water rushing by. The bow wave is a gentle partnership of the boat and ocean, the former disturbing the latter as little as possible. There is no evidence of the usual power struggle as huge engines force an ungainly shape through the protesting water. The bow rises smoothly and gracefully as it meets the rounded swells that remain from now docile winds, mutliplying the bow wave without the jarring motion of an automobile on a pockmarked road.