About Us

Introduction

The community of Islesford, located on Little Cranberry Island 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.

Working with the residents of Islesford, the Ravenhill family started Islesford Boatworks in 2006 as a way to support the waterfront and share their passion for woodworking and boats with children living in the Mt Desert region. By teaching kids to build traditional wooden boats, IB accomplishes its mission:

Building opportunity, community, and a future for Maine’s working waterfront.

Through the boatbuilding shop, housed in an 800 sq.ft. barn on the Ravenhill’s property, IB has taught the traditional craft of wooden boatbuilding to an average of 60 children each summer, in a 6-8 week summer program. Over 500 individual students have attended over the past 11 years, many attending year after year.

In recent years, Islesford Boatworks has expanded to meet the needs of the community by adding an advanced woodworking program for teens, an evening adult program and, most recently, a Summer Camp Collaboration Program in which local camps join us for a hands-on day of boatbuilding in our shop. Through these programs, IB has been able to better serve the needs of the community, and nearly triples our summer participants.

It’s hard to believe, but this next summer will mark the 14th summer that Islesford Boatworks will open its doors and welcome a new group of children to build a boat! During that time IB has evolved from a summer program founded by three siblings to a treasured part of the Cranberry Isles community. As IB has matured we’ve increasingly felt the need to find a permanent home outside the Ravenhill Barn where the program could put down roots and be even more useful and accessible to the community. And thankfully with the great support of the community and the National Park Service, that is exactly what we were able to do in 2018, and now  IB now has a permanent home right on the water. 

That’s the average number of students and volunteers that participate in each summer boatbuilding program alone. To which we also add all of the participants of the Annual Row-a-Thon and adult volunteer nights/jam sessions, as well as all of our School year students and volunteers, and let’s not forget all of our wonderful supporters, making IB truly a community endeavor every summer. We estimate that those numbers will now grow significantly as a result of moving into the Blue Duck and now having quite a bit of room to grow additional ways for students, volunteers and the community to be involved.

We’ve engaged over 1500 individual students and volunteers in our 14 years of building boats. That number is both humbling and encouraging. It makes us so thankful for what we’ve accomplished but leaves us eager to do more, to reach a wider audience, and to continue our mission of building opportunity, community, and a future for Maine’s working waterfront. We are excited to announce that IB has signed a 10-year lease with the National Park Service to take over the Blue Duck on Islesford (pictured above), the old island store and one-time museum that has sat mostly vacant for the last 30 years.