Heather Babeki – Lake Martin renaissance artist. Her gig is not just fiberglass boat repair, but art in general.
This post started out as a documentation of Heather restoring my friend’s 1971 SeaRay 190. But I soon came to realize she is much more than a fiberglass boat repair shop: Heather Babecki is a Lake Martin treasure. A walking, talking anomaly. Not only does she repair fiberglass on boats, but she loves them back to better-than-original condition. She polishes chrome, restores brass, custom designs and cuts a teak platform, all in the name of resurrecting a boat full of memories.
Heather is the only person I know who can explain the intricacies of gel-coat repair, its history, and chemical structure, while making references to German philosophers (Occam’s Razor), obscure Cuban chess champions, all as she keeps an eye on the mules and roosters that graze in her yard. We procrastinators of boat repair no longer have an excuse to let the once-glorious boats of our youth disintegrate into a mushy pile of fiberglass. Heather can build it back better than it was before (e.g. she replaces wood with fiberglass beams), and she does it with an artist’s eye.
Visitors to her shop should not expect a shiny, gleaming, corporate super-structure. Rather, know that her country-bohemian lifestyle affords her the free, creative mind she needs to work her magic.
Far from an ethereal, superfluous approach to boat building, she is also extremely practical. She will be the one scraping her knuckles when sanding or will have her head inches away from your boat when painting, just to make sure it’s perfect. She has a few talented helpers, but mostly she does it all by herself. Her prices are very reasonable – some would say dirt cheap. This “thing of (hers)” is not just a way to get extra beer money; she plows the proceeds she has after costs into newer and better equipment. Show me an artist who gets excited about a new paint sprayer and I will show you someone who loves her art more than herself.
Right now I’m talking to you, reader, who has that old fiberglass ski boat from the 60’s, 70’s, or even 80’s that’s sitting on a trailer with 2 flat tires, grass growing up in the axles – and you try to forget about it. You used to tear around in that boat in days that you would say were “The Good Old Days.” But now it has water in it, or the transom has rotted, or it has a big hole in the side of it because your brother-in-law backed it into the wall. There’s no excuse. For a pittance, she can make it whole again, and you will have a bit of your youth back. Yes, you might have another boat now, but ….. there are boats, and then there are Boats.
Call Heather at Spookeay Marine on Lake Martin, and I would bet that for the price of one ticket to the Iron Bowl, you could have your running buddy back.
For more of Heather’s boat restoration videos on YouTube, click here.