Harpswell Boatbuilders founder Ann Flannery instructs Jemma Holden at Flannery’s shop in Cundy’s Harbor. (Sydney Doyle photo)
It’s Sunday in Cundy’s Harbor and a group is getting together to build. In a beautiful wood shop, many kids are working away, building a wooden boat. Some of them are measuring, some of them hammering, sanding or planing, and all of them are having fun!
Ann Flannery, founder of the Harpswell Boatbuilders, is in her fifth year of running this program. Ann started Harpswell Boatbuilders because she wanted to contribute to the Holbrook Community Foundation while teaching kids a skill she knows and loves. Working next to Ann are a number of talented volunteers, including Shari Olds, Duncan Wood and Greg Barmore.
The end product is always a beautiful, handcrafted wooden boat that is auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the Holbrook Community Foundation. The Holbrook Community Foundation is a nonprofit that supports the working waterfront in Cundy’s Harbor.
During a recent interview, Ann was asked, “How did you get into carpentry?” She replied, “My dad had lots of tools and always let us fuss around with them.” Ann and her siblings enjoyed playing with the tools together and found a knack for using them, along with a love for carpentry.
As a young adult, Ann learned woodworking while employed by a cabinetmaker in New Mexico. In 1980, having a desire to learn to build wooden boats, Ann moved to Maine to attend The Apprenticeshop. Ann’s experience at The Apprenticeshop solidified her love of wooden boats and her belief in the value of experiential education.
Bryce Holden uses a drill during a Harpswell Boatbuilders class. (Sydney Doyle photo)
Sharing this passion for wooden boatbuilding and experiential learning, Shari joined Ann at the shop. Shari learned woodworking from her father. This fueled her love for teaching kids the ways of boatbuilding.
“I enjoy the company of really intelligent younger adults,” she said. “I love watching the kids start a project and watching their skill set improve.”
Both Shari and Ann see that building wooden boats provides an opportunity for kids to learn cooperation and a sense of accomplishment.
For more information about the Harpswell Boatbuilders’ anticipated launch date on Memorial Day weekend, check out the Holbrook Community Foundation website at holbrookcommunityfoundation.org.
Sydney Doyle, 12, is in seventh grade at Mt. Ararat Middle School. She has participated in the Harpswell Boatbuilders program for three years. “My favorite part of boatbuilding is after completing the boat, when everyone’s in high spirits and we go down to the dock to test our work!” Sydney said. “It makes me feel very accomplished, as I’m sure it does with everyone else!”