Paul was born into the shipbuilding tradition. His father, Joseph, came ashore from Prince Edward Island, pushing a dory over the ice floes and
rowing it through the leads seeking opportunity in the States. He built barges in Bath, Maine, at the New England Shipyard, and worked on four- and five-masted schooners at Percy & Small's; he then moved to East
Boothbay to build yachts for Rice Brothers. Here he married Elizabeth Rice (sister of the owners), and Paul was one of their eight children
As a boy, Paul was often underfoot in his uncle Henry Rice's yard. It was an exciting place. Paul tells of seeing plates of steel for a
lightship emerging white-hot from the rollers. When a compound curve was needed, a piece of firewood cut to the right shape was run through with the steel. Hot rivets were tossed from the forge, caught in a bucket,
driven home, and peened. He remembers being employed when he was a little older, along with a number of others, hammering tacks into the coppersheathed centerboard of a big commercial schooner under construction.