by Brian Robbins
SURRY, ME – Mention Steve Wessel’s name to anyone familiar with Maine boat building and their reply is likely to be: “You mean the Wesmac guy?
Man – they’ve built some boats over the years.”
Which is true – a good 600 and counting, if you begin the tally from back in the 1980s when Wesmac custom-finished hulls built by a number of Maine builders.
But what many folks might not realize is that Steve Wessel had a relationship with the ocean long before he was a boat builder – and the drive and focus he’s known for today were probably shaped by some formative years on the business end of a clam hoe … not a bad lesson in learning how to get things done.
Steve Wessel was born in Blue Hill, ME back in 1951.
The Wessel family moved to Harpswell in 1957 when Steve’s father Tilden joined the Maine Warden Service.
His family had been working around the water for generations; early on, Steve proved he was no exception.
“I went clamming every day as a kid when I was in grammar school,” says Steve. “I did that year-round, plus raked sea moss in the summers.”
By 1964, Steve was ready to start lobstering on his own – but there was a major roadblock in his path: the state refused to issue a lobster license to the son of a warden, citing a potential conflict of interest.
It wasn’t until years later that Steve found out (from a third party) that when his father heard that his son was going to be refused a chance to work on the water, he made a beeline to Augusta.
“I guess he told them if that was how they were going to do things, he was going to quit, right then and there,” says Steve.
Tilden Wessel must’ve shaken somebody up: his son Steve got his lobster license (as did Steve’s younger brother David when the time came).
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