A new marine hardware supply store, Homer Marine LLC, started when owner and longtime boat builder Eric Sloth began providing supplies from his shop in the Northern Enterprises Boatyard to fishermen and other mariners working on their boats.
“This started as a warehouse,” Sloth said last Thursday of his store. “All my friends came in. ‘You got any of this?’”
Founded in 2017 as an e-commerce site, Homer Marine became an expanded, brick-and-mortar shop last March. Sloth, also owner of Sloth Boats, intended to hold a grand opening, but then the COVID-19 pandemic came along, postponing his plans. He had hoped for a grand opening in September and then November, but has indefinitely put that off until things get better.
Last week, work began on framing in a garage door for a new facade. Right now, the sign out front says “Sloth Boats,” but Homer Marine signs are waiting to be installed.
Located in the heart of the boatyard in a shop next to the watch tower, Homer Marine focuses on supplies mariners need to build or repair boats. From stainless steel fittings to Blue Sea DC electric products to 3M products, it’s a bit of a tinkerer’s dream. Sloth’s particularly proud of the 3M line that includes everything from sanding discs to speciality fiberglass paints and resins. It’s an official 3M Alaska distributor.
“A small shop like ours to get a distributorship is a big deal,” Sloth said.
People new to Homer who wonder where many of the boats in the Homer Harbor go to after the end of the summer tourism and commercial fishing season can find a lot of them in the Northern Enterprises Boatyard. Stacked on cribs, you can find everything from longliners to halibut charters to tour boats. Come spring when mariners return to get their boats ready for the season, the boatyard hums with the sound of grinders and sanders.
“The location’s great. There are up to 500 boats here,” Sloth said. “… We want to be able to serve the local boat guys.”
Sloth, 61, wound up in Homer in 1980 at age 21 after traveling around the country and Alaska. In his YouTube bio, Sloth said he had no intention of being a boatbuilder. He started working on commercial boat building and repair starting in 1990. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children and six grandchildren.
Back in the 1980s Homer had no Internet, no source for Googling “fiberglass repair.”
“But there was a vibrant boat building community around town due to the fact that the commercial salmon fisheries were booming,” he wrote. “Homer in particular had lots of local knowledge of all things boats, and I became privy to the collective wisdom.”
At his store, Sloth mentioned builders like George Hamm, builder of the classic K-Bay fiberglass boats, and Alan Engebretsen, founder of Bayweld Boats, or the late Renn Tolman, designer of the Tolman skiff.
“The community is pretty cool, the local knowledge,” Sloth said. “… You could go talk to them and say, ‘What do you do now?’”
With Kachemak Gear Shed/LFS Marine just up the hill on East End Road, Sloth recognizes that there is another marine supply store in town. In fact, he gets some of his supplies from LFS Marine in Seattle.
“I feel we complement the other shops in town,” he said.
Sue Arseneau works as the Homer Marine manager, and Gaylynn Mertz works part-time helping out in the shop and as Homer Marine’s social media director. Arseneau said Sloth has been documenting on social media a winter boat building project.
“His whole goal this winter while they’re building the Shirley Rose, they’re filming the whole thing,” she said.
Look for videos, photos and updates on Homer Marine’s Instagram page, @homermarinellc or on Facebook at