The captain and crew of the rowboat Duckling are all smiles during the annual Rowathon, a 10K circumnavigation of Little Cranberry Isle last Sunday. The event was organized by Islesford Boatworks. PHOTO BY AMANAT KHULLAR

Rowathon brings out island’s whimsical side

CRANBERRY ISLES — An unusual flotilla of rowboats, canoes and kayaks set out from the sandy beach just south of the town dock in Hadlock Cove at 1 p.m. Sunday for a circumnavigation of Little Cranberry Island. It was the “10 for 10 Rowathon,” a 10-kilometer row around the island organized by the crew at Islesford Boatworks in celebration of the nonprofit’s 10th anniversary.

“The day could not have been better,” Boatworks Executive Director Tony Archino said. “35 people in approximately 20 boats completed the circumnavigation, cheered on by the rest of the community.

“We had sunny skies, beautiful scenery and just enough wind to make you feel like you’re really working! Everyone had a great time, and we are now only $1,000 away from our overall fundraising goal of $10,000.”

This crew never misses a chance to wear costumes, so Archino decided his own row would have a Mario Brothers theme, based on the 1980s video games. Archino dressed up as Mario in overalls, white gloves and a red hat with an “M” on the front. He convinced Adam Green to go as Mario’s brother, Luigi. Green is the founder of Rocking the Boat, the New York City youth boatbuilding organization that inspired the creation of Boatworks 10 years ago.

The route took the rowers south through the Gut and out around the Baker Island Bar before turning north just inside Baker Island. Everyone was ready for a break by the time they reached the cove before Bunker Head. The powerboats escorting the group held station off the beach.

Members of the teen group who have been working on this year’s boat volunteered as support staff, meeting each boat as it arrived at the Bunker’s Cove rest point with water, bananas and cookies provided by the Pine Tree Market. Other community members met at the cove and on porches and balconies around the island to cheer.

As the flotilla launched again after their rest stop, they encountered the local Luders, International One Designs and big cruising boats coming in the Western Way as they hurried to the finish of the Great Harbor Dream Race. (See related story.)

Next up for the merry Boatworks band is the annual pirate-themed launch of this year’s new boat, set for Sunday, Aug. 9.

Boatworks includes programs for children ages 7-12, teens and adults. All are guided by experienced adult staff and teen counselors to produce a dinghy every summer. Attendance has grown to over 100 for the 7-week course. The group will be getting a new table saw with part of the proceeds, Archino said. The special saw is equipped with a sensor that allows it to automatically stop when in contact with skin, eliminating the potential for serious injury.

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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