Participants in the Islesford Boatworks youth program and Geoffrey Ravenhill, right, prepare to take this year’s boat off its molds and turn it right side up in ceremony they called a “boat mitzvah.” PHOTO COURTESY OF SHAINA DECIRYAN

Islesford Boatworks holds ‘boat mitzvah’

CRANBERRY ISLES — Islesford Boatworks, the community boatbuilding program on Little Cranberry Island, celebrated the completion of its 10th boat at the close of its 10th summer Saturday, Aug. 8.

“Typically, a boat is launched at the gala celebration,” Boatworks board member Peyton Eggleston said, “but because of all the other events this summer, the launch changed to formal lift off from the building frame, a ‘boat mitzvah.’ A vote was held to choose which of the top three names the kids had picked earlier. From those, Sea Salad won out.”

More than 100 islanders turned out to cheer the kids who had made this year’s boat and all the fun and effort that went into it. This year’s program included children from “off island,” more teenagers and many adults who came in evenings for music and serious woodworking – all told more than 150 people, Eggleston said.

Teenagers who had been with the program for years taught a hands-on class for parents and grandparents on how to shape oars, bend oak ribs and rivet planks together to make the hull of the boat. Peter Philbrook, one of the teen group who has been with the program since he was 6 years old, served as an Island Institute intern instructor this year.

“At the end of most days, there was a ‘Beat the Pete’ competition with kids challenging Peter in woodworking skills like sawing, drilling and accuracy,” Eggleston said. “The summer-long competition ended in a tie that had to be broken with a dance-off, and Pete lost to the kids’ champion, Whit Chaplin.”

Islesford native Heather Spurling was the organization’s Youth Boatbuilding Educator this summer. Shippen Savidge took on extra responsibilities as a formal apprentice.

The gala also featured a “pinewood regatta” in which 18-inch boats made by the school-aged kids ran trial heats to pick three boats for the grand finale. “Even with a shifty wind, Whit Chaplin’s bright red catamaran ran away from the pack to take first prize – a pound of fudge,” Eggleston said.

Mary Elizabeth Prokopius brought her two children, Topher and Maddy, from Northeast Harbor to participate in the program. “Instead of dropping them off, she stayed and became one of our best volunteer instructors,” Eggleston said.

In addition to donations from island residents and businesses, this year’s program was supported by Bar Harbor Bank and Trust, the Maine Community Foundation, the Ferguson Foundation, the Nichols Foundation, the Island Institute and the Teaching with Small Boat Alliance.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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