Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Building Boats

Mainers make boats. They have since sailors first arrived from across the pond in the 17th century and they will as long there is an ocean and trees to cut. Today, the laborious craft continues at fine boat builders along the coast. Steeped in the tradition of the region and the resources afforded by the nearby woods, apprentices at the Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine learn the art from veterans.

Serving as the two year home to some 20 apprentices from around the US, the Apprenticeshop trains the art of boat building from drafting the initial design to sailing the finished project.

On a bright May morning free of scholastic obligations or other frivolities, Tucker and I drove out along Route 1 to visit a friend and apprentice learning the craft of boat building. Enticed by the Maine coast and the importance of knowing a timeless craft, Matt left his job doing windows for a New York fashion designer and moved to Rockland in January.

Five days a week, Matt and the other apprentices who range from their mid twenties to late forties, learn woodworking, drafting, painting and sailing from their workspace on Main Street in downtown Rockland.

Starting with a blank piece of plywood, the apprentices start each boat with full sized drafting. Using the board like a set of Lego instructions, the boat builders refer back for the angles, lengths and widths of the hundreds of components of each boat. It all seemed like alchemy to me.

Tucker observing Men at Work and a nearly complete rowboat.

A Maine Boat Builder.

This band-saw chops up more wood than a cheap masseuse.

Does this magazine still exist?

The fruits of their labor: a 13-foot row boat and its oars.

Dinghies on the dock.

In addition to building boats from scratch, the Apprenticeshop also resurrects past flames.

Preparing for a late June launch.

You can't telecommute to Rockland or learn about it on Wikipedia. Boat building appeals to an older desire to create tools of exploration and adventure. It's an existence, a way of life. The results reflect the hundreds of hours spent toiling over wood, paint and sand paper. Price aside, I would rather have one of these works of art than any Patek Phillipe or Mercedes AMG. Groups of people on the Maine coast still answer the call to build boats from scratch. That inspires me.

Here are some more links,
Building Boats (Picasa),
The Apprenticeshop.


tons of land said...

fantastic. i hope you had a hot dog at Wasses while you were there.

Foster Huntington said...

I missed out on the dogs, I will be back and give them a whirl. Thanks for the kind words,

Luke Warner said...

Just came across a book called Wooden Boats by Michael Ruhlman. It's about some traditional boat builders in Martha's Vineyard. It ain't Maine, but it's a good read. Keep up the great images, man. Still love your eye.

Foster Huntington said...

That book looks awesome Luke. I will buy it on amazon, it's pretty cheap. Thanks for the comment,

heavy tweed jacket said...

Very cool post. This is what is great about this blog - finding the unnoticed, the beautiful, the remarkable.

Foster Huntington said...

The guys at the Apprenticeshop were awesome. They had passion. thanks for the kind words about my blog. i really appreciate your support.

Michael Mundy said...

Great story Foster. Im with you on passing over the watch and the car for a work of art such as a hand built boat. I am in Main every summer and have had many sails and rows in some of Maine's finest.
Once again you've captured it perfectly.

Foster Huntington said...

I would much rather support some very tallented and specialized craftsman than watch makers or assembly lines in Germany. Unfortunetly I have neve spent time in one of them, only salivated from afar. Thanks for the kind words,

This is were to make orders: said...

I had a friend , Bill Brown, who built boats in Rockland I think, did you run across him?

Paul said...

I love these photos - especially the boats/sailing. Great blog!

Monika said...

stumbled across this while image searching. great blog, great photography.

strikes a pretty chord with me since it reminds me of my other home (NH seacost), too. cheers.

tintin said...

Way late to this but have to say these shots are beautiful.

viagra online said...

I have the doubt that how the people build a boat, I think that it is so difficult , but the technology help to the people which build boats.
I think that it is so good and the images are spectacular!22dd