Mattapoisett, MA, Honors Local Boating Hero

MV/Mattapoisett prior to her launch on Saturday morning. Photo/New England Boating

A crowd of some 125 people gathered last Saturday morning at the Mattapoisett Boatyard and Mattapoisett Yacht Club in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, to honor local boating icon Karl Collyer and to dedicate a new harbor launch in his memory.

Evan Collyer breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow of the new launch. Photo/New England Boating

Collyer, who died unexpectedly in February 2010, was a fixture at the boatyard and well known throughout Mattapoisett Harbor. His death was mourned by many in the town’s tightknit boating community.

“Over his 40 years at the [Mattapoisett] Boatyard, he touched so many customers, neighbors, visitors and passersby,” recalled an emotional Dave Kaiser, general manager of the Mattapoisett Boatyard and one of many people at the ceremony who had worked closely with Collyer. “He raised sunken vessels, salvaged wrecks on shore, built more than a thousand cradles, hauled and launched well over 10,000 boats, easily rigged half of them, jumpstarted his fair share of dead batteries, bled a good number of diesels, and certainly put out some fires. He must have delivered or picked up over 50,000 passengers on the launch. Karl built every one of the yard’s docks, built or fixed each of the buildings, assembled and set half of the moorings in the harbor, constructed all sorts of trailers, carts, racks, skids, skiffs and various contraptions that had some sort of purpose around the yard.”

Members of the Collyer family gather for a group photo next to the launch dedicated to Karl Collyer. Photo/New England Boating

“It’s a little strange to think that….this is the first project to come from the boatyard that does not have Karl’s hands on it,” added Kaiser, indicating the new harbor launch, resting nearby in the TravelLift. “Karl’s influence is all around us, and surely he’s watching over us at this moment. Let this boat be an enduring reminder about how we should go about our lives, with trust and respect, with honor and dignity. Karl’s dedication to his family and friends, neighbors, colleagues and his customers will not be forgotten. His legacy will live on.”

Mike Collyer brother of Karl, says a few words at the ceremony. Photo/New England Boating

Mike Collyer, Karl’s brother, also spoke briefly, saying that Karl would have probably been embarrassed by all the fuss made in his honor. “Karl didn’t look for reward in anything he did,” Collyer said, “but this is a very moving tribute.”

After the Collyer family posed for a group photo, Karl’s son Evan broke a bottle of champagne across the bow of the new launch, christened the MV Mattapoisett, and backed the boat out of the lift slip. To those who knew Collyer, the launch will serve as a reminder of the man and the role he played in one town’s boating community.

The newly launched M/V Mattapoisett rests alongside the dock at the Mattapoisett Boatyard. Photo/New England Boating

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