In Memoriam: George Davis

1957-2020

We’re sad to share the news of George Davis’ passing on April 21, 2020, following a battle against cancer.

George is one of the most gifted craftspeople who’s ever dedicated his talents to boatbuilding. He spent most of the last decade of his career as a carpenter here at Front Street Shipyard. George had a unique vision, efficiency of engineering, and precise execution that he applied to everything he created.

Here’s how we remember George: covered in curls of wood, crafting a work of art between his capable hands.

He is missed already.

In a rare moment when George allowed a camera to be turned on him, he shows off a helm chair he designed and built.

Share Your Memories

Please feel free to share your stories about George here. Let’s celebrate his life and memorialize him for friends and family.

14 Comments

  1. Nate Littlefield

    As a rookie to the marine business George always made me feel like one of the guys if I had a “beginners” question. When it came to home projects that seemed difficult to most, if you asked George he would get a pen and paper out and show you the quickest & easiest way and make it much simpler. George will be greatly missed by everyone. He was truly one of a kind.

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  2. Tuesdi

    I will remember George for his love of crows. He and I share that love, and many times discussed various things we had noticed about them, or books we had read about these amazing creatures. No matter what book I brought up as one he might want to read – come to find out he had already read it. George had an amazing, inquiring mind, and he will be greatly missed by all of us – and the neighborhood crows, too.

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  3. Molly

    Every time I showed up at the yard, I’d somehow run into George. He always had a twinkle in his eyes, a smile and a kind word to say. I am so sad to hear of his passing.

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  4. Eric Best

    I met George in 2018 when he helped rebuild my badly rotted mizzen mast, which he thought could be saved – and did. I watched the quiet elegance of his work and deeply appreciated the advice and counsel he offered when asked. He was very patient with me and generous with his knowledge. It wasn’t just his exceptional craft and skill that set him apart, but a good-hearted friendliness and concern for others that he expressed every time I saw him. I realized that the yard had a great resource in someone who so often caused others to give the advice, “Ask George!” I am deeply saddened at his loss and want to express my sympathy to the many who must have known him for far longer and will feel his absence most acutely. If these times did not prohibit gatherings, I would like to be part of one to honor him, to thank him for being the guy he was, and maybe listen to some great guitar music in his name.

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  5. Joe Raite

    George was a great man. A true yankee.

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  6. Larry Murray

    So So Sad to hear of the passing of my friend George Davis . He and I spent many hours over the last 25 years talking boats ,Bikes Polynesian sailing canoe”s and our world of wood working. He was such inspiration to me on how to live simply & fully.
    Fare Thee well, My friend.” May the Four Winds Blow You Safely Home ” I will so miss seeing your face around the shop.

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  7. Peter Tagge

    The very sad news of George has travelled far to me here in the sands of Algeria North Africa. As you know, George did a lot of work on Navarana, and whenever I visited the yard, he was always available to answer questions or give a comment in his quiet studious way. George carefully rebuilt Navarana’s stem in 2017 and reshaped the curve creating arguably a much better result than the original shape designed by Walsted. It was a real work of art and I was sorry to see it get covered up with glass & paint! The beautiful strong shape remains, however. George had a sort of inner calm, zen-like quality to him [at least it seemed that way to me], which probably allowed him to tackle complex wood projects, including mine! In keeping with that theme, and in memory of George, I put together a short Japanese Haiku poem in his honor.

    George’s Bow
    Layered oak with care,
    Intelligent hands, firm, rare.
    Your bow smooths her way.

    All the more reason to get Navarana back in the water, as a tribute to George and to let his remarkable handiwork be appreciated by one and all!
    I convey my sincere sympathies to the Front Street Shipyard community and to all of George’s friends, family and admirers….there are many.
    Peter

    Peter Tagge
    Owner, s/y NAVARANA

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  8. Justin Lesage

    I first met George while sailing my home built trimaran kayak. He came to check out my boat in his home built skiff with his self designed surface piercing prop engine. He was always interesting, always thinking outside the box and had a traveler and explorers itch to see and do more. I will definitely miss him!

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  9. Frederick Cowles

    George and I shared a love of boats and a lifestyle..of aquatic splendor…
    He lived aboard the Wild Pigs…and I lived for 19 years on the Seamouse..
    We were bound by the need to be mobile..and ..to have our own space.
    Last summer George was painting his Long Tail Racer..based on the Thai
    Shallow draft speedboats…I asked him about the design and he shared his video from his phone…goodness how that 14’ boat would fly…then he said he was building a longer boat at Peter Radclyffe’s boat shop…while he was talking I got photos of his boat but not of him…so sorry…
    A master craftsman and an amazingly modest person who would answer any question and help
    You if you needed it..
    I will surely miss George’s grin and his gentle ways….if there is a life beyond this..I can see him designing a cloud buster..runabout boat..god bless you George…

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  10. Troy Scott

    I will miss George. I will always remember his keen sense of humor and eye for beauty and integrity. Mostly he was a kind soul, easy to talk with and interested in life. A good man indeed.
    Quick to pivot to take on a challenge head on he would be positive and create a solution. Many times. One such was the “Squid Bearing”( he named it) he fabricated and adapted to make a set of dagger boards operate properly. It will always be the Squid Bearing” Thanks George.

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  11. Peter Lewis

    I still hear George’s voice in my head, clear as a bell. Later Skipper.

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  12. JB Turner

    I have taken a few days to let me sift through all the various thoughts, memories and George stories. I had the privilege of working with George for almost 20 years. George was such a rare person. He could do anything, build anything. He was capable of working on several project simultaneously, and magically they would all come together, seemingly effortlessly, at a speed which everyone would be in awe of. He had the vision to see the end of the project instantly and the road to get there in his mind was clear and short.
    When we started FSS he was aboard the new adventure at the very start, building the docks, building work sheds and doing whatever small customer projects we had at the time. He was totally committed, right out of the gate to see the new yard succeed and willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.
    He had the rare understanding of when to build something rough and ready or with the detail of a fine piece of joinery. This didn’t have to be relayed, he always knew from the outset.
    New sailing technology, monkeys, ravens, cats, travel, motorcycles were among his favorite things
    There are so many George stories but one that i have often told over the years was when we were going to a boat show on a Monday morning. Friday afternoon George came in and asked if we wanted something to display in our booth. He suggested a steering wheel. I said ” Thanks George, but we have to go first thing Monday and we won’t have time to properly finish it” He left. Monday morning I came in to see a mahogany steering wheel – with turned spokes, mahogany rimmed with a maple inlay. The wheel had two coats of varnish on it and was sitting in a stand!! How??
    That was George and so much more….
    Goodbye my friend, I will never forget you and i know i may never meet another human like you.
    JB

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  13. Paul Storer

    Thank you Front Street for posting this memoriam. Brings to mind fond memories of George, he will surely be missed….

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  14. Bob R

    I had the privilege to work with George in the mid eighties down in Connecticut. Together we had a lot of laughs. We lost contact after our lives went in different directions. I always remembered And thought about him and wondered what ever came of him in Maine. I’m very saddened to hear this news since it’s been 25+ years since we last spoke. George you were a great friend and rest in piece.

    Bob Reynholds

    Reply

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