Holland 32: A Classic Maine Lobsterboat Done Right
February 1, 2012
Standing in his boat shop on the outskirts of Belfast, Maine, Glenn Holland summed up the philosophy behind his legendary 32’ hull thusly: “There’s no point in havin’ a boat that doesn’t look good. I designed the 32 to look right, sail easy and fast, work efficiently. I figure if she’s fast, she’s efficient.”
This Downeast hull has built a solid 30-year track record of hauling traps, cruising, and oh, yes, racing. The best-known Holland 32, the Red Baron, was the Alpha Dog on Maine’s lobsterboat racing circuit in the 1990s, eventually reaching a top speed of 57.8 mph over a measured mile with her 1100-hp supercharged gas race engine, but Glenn’s father, Corliss, also hauled traps from her every day with her work motor, a 340-hp gas Ford 460 that pushed her to a top end of 32 mph, but also “sailed easy” at 16 to 18 mph.
History of the Holland 32
Glenn Holland grew up in Stonington, Maine. As a young boy he was fascinated by the harbor’s working boats, and spent most of his spare time watching them at rest and underway, and studying their shapes when they were on the hard. He developed a particular affection for the designs of boats built farther Downeast in Jonesport and on Beals Island in the 1950s and ‘60s. In high school, he gained skills by working on them. After a stint in the Coast Guard in the early 1970s, he began finishing other builders’ hulls in the 30’ range, all of which he sold before completing them.
Eventually, Holland began to develop a shape for a 30’ hull of his own design that would follow the 2 maxims expressed above—lovely first; fast and efficient second. He carved a half-model and took it to noted Downeast designer Royal Lowell for comment.
Lowell approved of Glenn’s design, but suggested several small modifications. Holland contracted with a shop in East Boothbay to lay up hulls beginning in 1976. They proved popular, but the mold was destroyed in a fire a couple of years later.
With the opportunity to tweak the design again, Holland spoke with his earlier customers, then went back to Lowell with the proposal to lengthen the hull by 2’. Lowell agreed, suggesting that the extra length would probably make the boat faster than the 30-footer. Glenn built a new mold, beginning production of the 32 in 1979 at his own shop. And yes, Lowell was right: The 32 is definitely faster, as 32 years and 160 hulls can attest.
Holland 32 Hull Design
A quick look at the 32 reveals a lovely sheerline with just the right curve from stemhead down amidships and then slightly back up astern. The sharp, plumb bow entry curves gracefully into enough flare to knock down spray, with tumblehome astern and a curved transom.
There’s more here than a pretty face, though. The hull features flat planing surface aft, a running bottom whose beam decreases over the aft third of its length to help the transom release water efficiently, and a bolted-on keel, in the tradition of the Jonesport/Beals Island “skeg-built” boats. The skeg construction requires mounting the engine farther forward than in the fuller “built-down” hulls of Mid-Coast Maine to achieve a flat shaft angle, but it also yields less wetted surface for reduced drag at planing speeds.
One important feature of the Holland 32 hull is fullness amidships for extra lift at planing speeds and stability. Watch a Holland 32 running at speeds in the 20s or above and you’ll see her riding on this surface.
For a long time, construction of the Holland hulls included conventional fiberglass mat and roving, bonded with “plain old” polyester resin. The boats were strong but heavy. Glenn says that when he decided to build the Red Baron in the early ‘90s, he “found a whole stand of fiberglass trees.”
Those “trees” included modern knitted fabrics and CoreCell for decks and topsides, providing adequate strength with much less weight. The storied race/workboat was light for her time, but not for today, when those materials have become standard. He has had no problems with polyester resin for boats that live in the Northeast, but hulls that go south get a skin coat of vinylester resin.
Holland builds semi-custom boats, so a buyer can specify the layout, given the constraints of engine placement and shaft angle. Many customers like to keep it simple, with a 3-panel windshield, a sturdy pilothouse shelter over the helm and engine box, and drop-down spray curtains. The engine box extends through the cabin bulkhead, so the aft end becomes a handy surface for sitting or laying out charts under the shelter. The helm is to starboard, with the cabin companionway to port.
The spacious cockpit is infinitely adaptable, and can accommodate bench seating, folding chairs, live wells, rod racks—you name it. The deck is self-bailing, and the wide washboards make it easy to go forward to handle lines or anchor. Handrails on the shelter and the cabin top offer security.
The Holland 32 performs best with minimal weight, so it’s advisable not to load the cabin with a lot of “stuff”. The cabin has room for a forward V-berth, a simple galley and an enclosed head. The interior can be trimmed and finished in any number of ways. Headroom is about 5’ 9”.
Power & Performance
Holland designed his 32’ hull originally for a 150-hp diesel, but he found out quickly that small-block gas V8 engines offered plenty of power at low initial cost with reasonable efficiency. A lot of the early hulls received 200- to 250-hp Chrysler 318s, but Holland gradually came to favor Fords.
These days, Glenn says that a 325- to 350-hp Cummins QSB-Series common-rail diesel is ideal on the 32. This engine is light, yet is still able to push the hull to 30 mph, while retaining its inherent sweet spots at 8 mph and 15 to 18 mph.
Price & Availability
The owners of Holland 32s tend to hold onto them, so plan on hunting for several months to find one for sale. Holland can build a new one with a Cummins QSB and simple accommodations for around $175,000.
- LOA: 32’
- Beam: 10’ 6”
- Draft: 3’ 6”
- Weight: 8,500-9,000 lbs. (depending on power and accommodations)
- Fuel: 100 gals. (capacity optional per owner)
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