ROCKLAND – Dozens of spectators arrived July 20 in Rockland to cheer the Mishi Mikinaak, as she was launched from the Apprenticeshop and into the summer-blue Atlantic.
The 26-foot, wooden gaff-rigged vessel eased into the water, while crew members grabbed long oars to move the new boat toward the harbor. A sudden sideways rock caught a few people off guard, including the apprentices who’d constructed the ketch. But, with the addition of several filled sacks as ballast, the Mackinaw-designed vessel is ready to sail in the Camden Classics Cup Regatta next week, and join the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta in August.
“The people who’ve worked on this boat have never touched tools, or worked with wood, or have even been on a boat before they arrived here,” said Isabella Feracci, executive director for The Apprenticeshop, just before the launch. “This was a challenge that was put before them, and they stepped up to it.”
With perseverance, patience, trying, and failing, apprentices in the program are able to do things not otherwise believed possible, she said. This vessel, along with other boats the program has launched, is proof of the experiential education process.
The nonprofit Apprenticeshop, on Main Street, is an educational organization, “dedicated to inspiring personal growth through craftsmanship, community, and traditions of the sea,” according to its history.
Inspired by the philosophy of experiential educator Kurt Hahn and founder Lance Lee's own experiences in education and Outward Bound, the Apprenticeshop began in 1972 within the complex of the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. The school moved to Rockport, then Nobleboro, and in 1999, to its permanent home on the Rockland waterfront.
“The Mikinaak is a tangible record that represents the majority of my time,” said Nina Noah, who, along with Silas Rogers, was instrumental at getting the Mackinaw project started. Daniel Creisher is the instructor who lead the second part of the construction, according to Feracci.
“It’s exciting to see it going into the water, and to see all these parts that represent either handskills I learned or human skills I learned....Learning how to let go of control,” Noah said.
According to the press release promoting the launch, “Mishi Mikinaak is a Mackinaw design historically used for travel, fishing, and cargo hauling on the Great Lakes.
“The Apprenticeshop chose the Mackinaw to become its newest expedition, sail training, and seamanship vessel because of the unique qualities of this design. It has a shallow draft, yet is seaworthy; it can move in light air and has speed; while modest in size, it can sleep six for overnight expeditions.”
Mishi Mikinaak, means ‘Big Turtle’ in Ojibwe.
The next large project on the shop floor is a Dublin Bay 24, which begins lofting in August. Stop by to visit the Apprenticeshop at 655 Main Street in Rockland; visitors always welcome. The Apprenticeshop is also are looking for volunteers to help with various shop tasks. Contact at email@example.com
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org