Book chronicles life in a Boothbay boatyard

BAR HARBOR — Author John Willey will sign copies of his book, “A Winter’s Apprentice,” about boatbuilding, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. at Sherman’s book store.

“In the book, Willey brings a craftsman’s day to life as he shares insights into a Maine boatyard, where he worked and kept a journal from 1978-79,” the book’s publisher said. “John’s perspectives are unique, coming from being a scholar and private investigator. He knew he was working among a group of outstanding craftsmen and involved in a dying art that he has now preserved in his writings.”

“Before it ever leaves its building shed, a yacht will take its makers on unimagined journeys,” Willey writes. “This one only begins in East Boothbay, Maine.”

As a teen growing up at Good Will-Hinckley in central Maine, he made his first boat with a friend, in his free time, when he wasn’t avidly reading. Working in a boat yard seemed to be a natural course to take.

“As soon as I began work at Paul’s yard I was dazzled, smitten, and wanted to preserve what I learned as completely as I could,” Willey said. “After about four or five weeks it dawned on me I had something close to chapters for a book, along with detailed letters I’d written to my dad.”

He had been an independent private investigator in San Francisco when he was told by his doctor to find less hectic work in a more peaceful setting if he wanted to live longer. So, at midlife, he and his wife returned to Maine.

John has been a farmhand, janitor, jackhammer operator, U.S. Marine, choir member (bass), sailor, private investigator, electrician, boat builder, cabinetmaker, mason, and long served on the board of his beloved Good Will-Hinckley. In the summertime, he paddles an eighteen-foot sea kayak he built and launched in 1997.

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