Eight Bells for Master Multihull Builder Bill Shuman

William Henry Shuman III, born July 7, 1951, died August 22, 2019.

Born in Nashua, NH, Bill spent his childhood in Milford, NH and summers in Wells, ME. After a year of college his adventurous and restless nature compelled him to ride a motorcycle to Florida, where he worked on a shrimp boat.

Boats seemed to be his calling and Bill attended the Boat School in Lubec, Maine from 1972-1975. For the rest of his life, wherever Bill lived, he built a boat, often moving to new places just to set up shop and start another one.

He established a boat shop in Wells where he completed several boats of distinction, among them a sprit rigged ketch and a skiff for the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor. In the early 80s he began building the multihull sailboats for which he eventually became well known. He was inspired by boat designer Chris White, who designed all Bill’s multihulls except his final power catamaran Hero. Bill’s early boats were 20- and 21-foot trimarans. Next was the 46’ catamaran, Bearcat. In the later 80s and 90s all his boats’ names began with H: Hurricane (cat), Hopscotch (tri), Hammerhead (54’ tri) and Heron (64’ cat).

In the 2000s he built his final masterpiece: the 64’ power catamaran, Hero. Bill was a gifted boatbuilder. He built his crafts entirely on his own, hiring out precious few jobs to the rare folks he trusted to meet his exacting standards.

His boats were his children and he was justifiably proud of them.

Bill’s friends are predominantly members of a far flung boating community, many of whom, like him, have spent their lives on and around boats. Bill lived on his boats, traveling to Maine in the summer and to Florida or the Caribbean in the winter. He would jump in to help any friend in need, especially with a boat catastrophe. Despite his intractable nature, he was loyal and giving and cared more than he often showed.

Bill enjoyed animals, especially dogs. His last years have been spent with his two beloved rescue dachshunds, Tucker and Julie. They became fine boat dogs and went everywhere with him. He also enjoyed watching birds. He was sharp sighted and loved spotting gannets and other water birds while cruising. He was an excellent sailor and frequently cruised on his own boats or helped friends deliver theirs up and down the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. He made many trips to Bermuda and back.

Sailing with Bill meant that if anything broke, he could fix or rebuild it.

Though mostly a loner, Bill was loyal to his close friends and enjoyed their company. He often sailed far to visit people he cared about. He stayed abreast of politics and was rabid about our current president.

Though life was not easy for him, he made significant contributions to the boat building community and his boating family. He will be missed by his friends and his family.

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