Islesford Boatworks is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community-based summer boatbuilding program for children ages 7 to 18 situated on Little Cranberry Island, Maine. By teaching kids to build traditional wooden boats, IB builds opportunity, community and a future for Maine’s working waterfront.
The community of Islesford, Maine was once home to a fair number of fisheries and marine-related businesses, and the island’s population relied on the ocean for their livelihood in a broad spectrum of trades. Today, however, marine-related professions on the island have ebbed to the point that only lobstering remains. In pondering the future of Islesford we have watched our waterfront change and have grown concerned about the sustainability of an island community that is increasingly cut off from the ocean.
A Statement from Brendan Ravenhill, Co-founder
I drew the inspiration for Islesford Boatworks from my experience as a boat builder with Rocking the Boat (RTB), a boatbuilding and on-water education program that works with inner city youth in the South Bronx, New York. Rocking the Boat has been successful in reaching more than 100 students a year, building 16 boats with local high school youth since 1998. As the boatbuilding educator, I instructed 18 students and five apprentices in the construction of traditional lapstrake boats. Throughout my experience with RTB, I was struck by how the leadership skills and sense of community that students gain through boatbuilding can be applied even in an urban environment. I feel strongly that such a program has tremendous impact on an island where boats are a daily part of life. I have spent every summer of my life on Islesford, and I long ago fell in love with the bustle of a working waterfront. After college I moved to Islesford to live and work year-round in lobstering. I spent four years there, during which time I also designed and built the barn and woodshop that Islesford Boatworks calls home. I have often pondered the future of our island community, and I believe that Islesford Boatworks engages a younger generation to consider new ways of supporting themselves through the sea.
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