CRANBERRY ISLES — A few raindrops couldn’t dampen the spirits in the historic Blue Duck building on Little Cranberry last Saturday, as Oso Oloroso, the latest Islesford Boatworks boat was cheerfully launched. Spanish for “Stinky Bear,” this was the first boat completed in their new waterfront shop and the program’s fourteenth annual summer launch.
It marks a pivotal moment for Boatworks, as the nonprofit grows from being primarily a summer youth organization to a year-round community center.
Oso Oloroso was also the last boat raffled away.
A new boat was started this summer, a dory for Rick Alley, a local lobsterman and a long-time friend of Boatworks. That new boat is the first of a new plan for the organization: building working boats to serve the working waterfront and the island as a whole.
“By focusing on the needs of the local community, Boatworks looks forward to engaging more people, including new school programs during the year, and to being a part of the island’s fishing tradition,” a statement from the group said.
Started by the Ravenhill family in 2006, Boatworks teaches traditional wooden boatbuilding and helps to build community through related programming.
Last summer, the group signed a long-term lease with the National Park Service and took up residency in the Blue Duck. This waterfront building was built in 1852 to house the extensive mercantile enterprises, general store, and ship chandlery of the Hadlocks, one of the island’s pioneer families.
After serving briefly as a museum, it was mostly abandoned, although it was registered as a national historic building.
Boatworks moved in last summer, restoring the space, setting up a new woodshop and honoring the original ship’s store by opening a new chandlery.
This summer’s program was led by Taji Riley, a union carpenter in New York City and former student of former Boatworks director Tony Archino.
Boatworks has been supported by a combination of donations, program tuition, boat raffles and grants from supporters, including The Nichols Foundation, the Ferguson Foundation and the Maine Community Foundation.