Wally worked at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine where he began his affair with the sea. He also served in the Navy Seabees during World War II. His battalion built landing strips, hospital stations and bridges needed by the Navy and Marines both, in Hawaii and the Philippines. He met and married Ruthann. In 1956 Wally and Ruthann came to Newburyport in search of a place to "drop anchor" as Wally would say, and start their own business. They purchased the Hatheway Boatyard, which was better known as the Currier-Townsend Shipyard, builder of the famous Clippership "DREADNOUGHT". With Wally's naval experience & creativity and Ruthann's business sense they built themselves a Marina literally from the ground up.
In the "early days" boats were driven up onto a railway into a cradle, that was specifically built for each boat. Then the boats were moved on rollers into their position in the yard with the aid of an old Electric Light Truck. Equipment was tweaked and repaired and eventually upgraded as finances allowed. The next big improvement for the yard, was the purchase of a 12 ton Marine Travelift in 1960 and a pier to run it out on. Jack stands allowed boats to be "stood up" without the use of a cradle, thus making the whole hauling effort much simpler. In 1979 the travelift was upgraded to a 35 ton Marine Travelift and then again in 2006 to a 50 ton Marine Travelift.
All the while Wally was building a boat. The 38' pleasure boat was handcrafted out of cedar and mahogany over oak. Wally, Ruthann, Walter Jr "Jay" and daughter Merri-Lee, moved aboard the "SeaPrincess" which was home until 1978 when they moved into a house. The Sea Princess provided countless memories for the family as well as a platform for Wally to conduct Coast Guard Auxiliary classes. The "Sea Princess" can still be seen floating proudly at the dock today.
Wally was very interested in not only what went on atop the water but what was going on in its depths. He joined the Haverhill Scuba Kings and became a very active club member and an avid diver. Being in the Navy & working at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard he always had an interest in and was around submarines. Well combining his interests with his fabricating skills, an idea was born and he said "let's build a submarine, why not?", and another adventure was born. Wally bought himself a set of plans for a one-man sub . He took that design and improved on it by adding a propeller and a reversible motor, and an acrylic hatch, which affords 360 degrees of visibility. In 1971 the "Deep Princess" was finished, a 14-foot, one ton, one person, bright yellow sub. It can submerge to a depth of 300 feet, but is safest at a range of 100-120 feet. She is still around but not as actively used these days.
Wally, always looking to improve "how we do things", started thinking about what would make moving boats around the small yard and in and out of "the shed" easier. Hence the design and fabrication of his MARINE MASTER HAUL, completed in 1986. Using electric hydraulic controls, the 30 foot long, self propelled machine and it's individual "arms", are controlled by a tiny joy stick and separate push button pad. This enables the operator to maneuver the MASTER HAUL back & forth, turn it in a very tight radius, position it under the boat and then "lift" itself so the operator can position the arms w/pads precisely as desired. The MARINE MASTER HAUL was an instant success and saved not only time but steps for the workers. The MARINE MASTER HAUL is one of the busiest pieces of equipment in the yard during launching & hauling season.
Meanwhile Ruthann was busy keeping track of not only Wally, but all aspects of the business. Building a business literally from the ground up, is not a task to be taken lightly and Ruthann worked diligently with Wally to improve things, everyday. She worked endlessly in the office and ship's store, attending to all the details for their Marina and Marina customers.
Ruthann & Wally's attention to their customers and everyday details is something we continue and try to improve upon daily. Many of our customers have been with us for 10, 20 even 30 years!