SOUTH THOMASTON, Maine — Harold H. “Dynamite” Payson, a mentor to a generation of backyard boat builders, has died.
Payson died Wednesday at Maine Medical Center in Portland after suffering an aneurysm at his home in South Thomaston earlier that day. He was 82.
Payson is best known in the world of wooden boats as a builder, writer and teacher. In collaboration with the late Gloucester, Mass., designer Phil Bolger, he developed a line of small boats that could be easily built by novice builders using everyday tools and easily obtainable materials.
Payson called them “instant boats” and wrote a series of books explaining his methods for building. He broke down the barriers to boat ownership for a lot of people who might have been intimidated by traditional boat building methods, according to Carl Cramer, publisher of WoodenBoat magazine.
“There are a lot of dreamers who will see a boat and say, ‘I wish I could build that,’” Cramer said. “But building a boat can be a daunting prospect. Dynamite took the ‘daunt’ out of the process.”
His boats are scattered along coastlines all around the world, Cramer said.
Payson was born in Rockland in 1928 and got the moniker “Dynamite” at an early age from his older sister’s boyfriend who said he was pesky and kept “popping up like a stick of dynamite,” according to a 2009 interview.