Expedition - Part II

The view from Pollux anchored off of Brimstone.

Day 2: Morning, 6:30am

There is an intensity of pink light, electric stripes shooting across the sky against a dark backdrop of jagged trees. At the edges, lavender clouds fade into the blueness of dawn. It’s such a clear morning, and so quiet except for the birds and the occasional lobster boat.

I like sleeping without the tarps. When I inevitably wake up in the middle of the night, it’s nice to be able to see the sky, the puffs of cloud against the moon, encircled by a faint rainbow halo. I somehow thought we were aground because I couldn’t feel the boat moving under me; I couldn’t hear the gurgling lap of the waves against the hull. But when I sat up to get a better look, I realized the water was just extremely calm.

I suppose that won’t bode well for our wind today. You can see the current running in the channel, but the breeze is faint and the water in here, tucked in at Green’s, is glassy. Everything feels asleep, not yet touched by the routines of morning.

Day 2: Brimstone

Brimstone is one of my favorite places, starting with the approach. As you sail through the last stretch of islands tucked up under Vinalhaven, towards the small, balding head of Brimstone, the only thing beyond you is blue horizon. It feels like you might just fall off the edge of the Earth if you went any farther. As you near the island, you can hear the sucking sound of the smooth black cobbles being pulled back into the sea from the tombolo beach. We breeze in under sail and throw out our stern anchor, nosing in to shore with our oars. One brave soul makes an epic jump into the shallows and trudges up the beach with the bow anchor slung over his shoulders. The landslide under his feet is like an outpouring of dried beans from an upset jar.

Setting out to explore, scrambling over rocks spattered with bright rust-colored lichens, it feels like an otherworldly landscape. It seems as if it’s inhabited only by plants, birds, and insects - anything that can travel on air. They dodge in and out of sight against a backdrop of plush green peppered with fiery red grasses and snowlike flowers. The few trees on the island look shocked, like they’ve been frozen in place by a terrifying sight or turned to stone by medusa. From the top of the hill, you can see Diamond Rock, Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse, and Isle au Haut looming in the distance, a deep blue black, hazy through the miles of atmosphere.

One thing I like best about Brimstone: it’s virtually impossible not to find a pocketful of good skipping stones.

Expedition - Part I

Day 1: Green’s Island

The  Powderhole , Lance Lee’s home on Green’s. Exploring Green’s Island is the closest I’ve gotten to finding Never Never Land. Photo Credit: Nina Noah

The Powderhole, Lance Lee’s home on Green’s. Exploring Green’s Island is the closest I’ve gotten to finding Never Never Land. Photo Credit: Nina Noah

As I lie on the boat, I can hear the rustle of a file on a blade intermingling with the throb of an engine. As the motor passes, it’s curling wake laps against the hull with a delicious foamy slurp. Then, everything resumes its calm. Still, the file on the blade, the rustle of another body on the sole below, and the crisp heat of the sun.

I like it when there’s time like this; time without specifics. Just time. Time on expedition feels entirely different in quality than regular time. The week leading up to the journey often feels squeezed with preparation, as if time has contracted, swallowed you in it’s flow like gravity in a black hole. Everything must somehow get crammed in to the days before you drop off the face of the Earth. But then, once you enter that boat and leave the dock behind, there’s nowhere else to be and no one else to be accountable to except the people sitting right there with you. There are shifts in weather and light and the sensations of your own body. There is a lot of staring at the empty horizon, punctuated by moments of checking the charts, re-trimming the sails, and tidying the boat. But that hurried feeling disappears into the distance as the land dissolves into blue.

There is time. There is ample time. In fact, the question of whether there is time barely arises, perhaps only when considering how much time is left to explore an island if nightfall is approaching. There is no dinner time, other than that time at the end of the day when we’re no longer underway and the stomach signals hunger. There is no bedtime, other than the time when darkness falls and your body succumbs to full sleepiness after a day of use. And then, you wake with the sun.

The days take on a habitual rhythm that fuses them together. It’s the ultimate exercise in presence. It’s not that every moment is simply lived in the present. But instead it feels like past, present, and future intersect seamlessly. I never understood in my bones what it meant to have a nonlinear or circular sense of time, until expedition. It’s the same idea as musical variation on a theme. The core theme is always the same, the core rhythm, even if the details embellishing it change.

Throughout most of human history, our way of measuring time has been embedded in nature and the landscape. Time is just a way of describing change, whether you’re describing it through the progression of floral blooms over the course of a day or the change in the position of a clock hand. In the last 100 years or so, we’ve moved to an increasingly fixed way of measuring time, which conflicts with our own personal experience of time. Personal time feels more elastic - think of moments of intense focus when time seems to evaporate, moments when you’re having a really good time vs. when you’re required to do something you hate, or moments when you’re waiting for the water to boil and it feels like it is taking an eternity. When you’re on the clock and time is divided into it’s smaller increments, it loses its elasticity, its expansiveness, its relationship to the larger, cyclical flow. Attention becomes focused on the hour, on the minute, not necessarily on the surrounding environment. 

It’s interesting to see what people do with expedition time, when they’re separated from work and partners, from their usual schedules and habits. Some stay on or close to the boat, enjoying the chance to nap, read, or just contemplate the open sky and sunshine above. Some clamber off the boat the first chance they get, eager to explore, or perhaps, to finally be alone on a trip where time away from the group is a scarce commodity. And some hop about productively, straddling land and boat, fiddling with this or that, clearing dead trees, sharpening an ax, fashioning a rope ladder out of wooden dowels and spare line.

I relish having the time to write. For some reason, it’s hard for me to develop a consistent writing practice on land. But on the sea, the words seem to ride in on the passing waves. I think it’s the difference in time. It’s hard for me to write when I’m feeling squeezed between musts and shoulds, which is often. I need the mental space, the freedom to think about nothing in particular, to chew on whatever is around me instead of what’s nagging from the inside.

But for now, the fiddlehands and the explorers are back, which means it’s time to start thinking of dinner, not to mention the fact that Francis (my fictional tapeworm) is waking up.

We're Going on Expedition!

We’re packed up and almost ready to take off. We’ll be gone on expedition until June 24th. We’re aiming for Green’s Island tonight. Then, we hope to sail out to Mount Desert Rock to see whales. Stay tuned for more details when we’re back.

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Apprenticeshop

THE APPRENTICESHOP IS AN EDUCATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION LOCATED ON PENOBSCOT BAY IN MIDCOAST MAINE.
DEDICATED TO INSPIRING PERSONAL GROWTH THROUGH
CRAFTSMANSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND TRADITIONS OF THE SEA.

Meet Our Three Visitors!

There are a few new faces around the shop this week. Rosie Sokolov (below) is a prospective student, originally from Massachusetts, doing her volunteer week at the shop. She has some experience working in both house carpentry and on boats. Prior to her visit here, she spent 3 months as a student at Albaola, the boatbuilding school in the Basque country in Spain. She’s hoping to continue her education in boatbuilding and seamanship.

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We also have two exchange students visiting from Skol ar Mor, a boatbuilding school in the Northwest of France. Giacomo (below left) is originally Italian but lives in Nantes and Martin (below right) is Belgian. They’ll spend the next 3 weeks with us working on boats. They’ll even get to participate in the first part of our annual summer expedition on the twins. We’re very excited to share skills and knowledge and perhaps learn a little French in the meantime.

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Apprenticeshop

THE APPRENTICESHOP IS AN EDUCATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION LOCATED ON PENOBSCOT BAY IN MIDCOAST MAINE.
DEDICATED TO INSPIRING PERSONAL GROWTH THROUGH
CRAFTSMANSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND TRADITIONS OF THE SEA.

Girls Build Inspires Girls to Become Carpenters and Electricians

Photo Credit: Girls Build

Photo Credit: Girls Build

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about women in the trades. Women account for a small fraction of the workforce in fields like construction, plumbing, and, yes, boatbuilding. There are many reasons why - historical precedent, lack of exposure at an early age, social norms that dictate what kinds of careers people choose and who gets hired, to name a few.

But there are some organizations working to counteract that. Girls Build is a nonprofit organization founded in 2016 that teaches girls the basics of carpentry, plumbing, electricity, and other skilled trades. Their all-female team of instructors run a series of weeklong camps in Oregon and Washington in which they teach around 40 girls different kinds of building and making skills. ‘“If you want to help women get into the trades at an earlier age and start taking advantage of being in a career that they love—and working in a living-wage career—then you need to start engaging them at a younger age,’ said Katie Hughes, founder and executive director of Girls Build.” You can read more about them here or check out their website here.

Apprenticeshop

THE APPRENTICESHOP IS AN EDUCATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION LOCATED ON PENOBSCOT BAY IN MIDCOAST MAINE.
DEDICATED TO INSPIRING PERSONAL GROWTH THROUGH
CRAFTSMANSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND TRADITIONS OF THE SEA.

The Sea Rocket

If you’ve been keeping up with our newsletter, you’ve probably seen something about the Sea Rocket project our Maritime Skills students have been working on in partnership with Ocean explorer and submersible inventor Graham Hawkes (you can learn more about Hawkes and the Sea Rocket here).

Our students fabricated the parts and assembled the rockets. Now, they’re in the testing phase. The video below shows footage from the first drop. On the left, you can see the footage taken by the GoPro attached to the bottom of the Sea Rocket. On the right, you can see footage taken by instructor Terry Moore of the Sea Rocket as it is released into the water and comes back up again.

Apprenticeshop

THE APPRENTICESHOP IS AN EDUCATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION LOCATED ON PENOBSCOT BAY IN MIDCOAST MAINE.
DEDICATED TO INSPIRING PERSONAL GROWTH THROUGH
CRAFTSMANSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND TRADITIONS OF THE SEA.

Hand Plane Demo

Daniel has been doing short demos after lunch at the beginning of every week. Owen was kind enough to sketch a few of the things he learned about hand planes during one of the demos.

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Apprenticeshop

THE APPRENTICESHOP IS AN EDUCATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION LOCATED ON PENOBSCOT BAY IN MIDCOAST MAINE.
DEDICATED TO INSPIRING PERSONAL GROWTH THROUGH
CRAFTSMANSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND TRADITIONS OF THE SEA.

Fermentation Night

What do apprentices do on a Saturday night? Well, this past Saturday, a handful of them were elbow deep in pots and bowls of ribboned cabbage well on its way to becoming sauerkraut!

Sheamus’ bowl of purple cabbage, red beets, carrots, garlic, and ginger.

Sheamus’ bowl of purple cabbage, red beets, carrots, garlic, and ginger.

Following a primer on Kombucha taught by Maria, the group had a chance to try their hands at a little fermenting of their own. Each apprentice brought a mix of different vegetables, like carrots, ginger, apples, and beets, to add to the cabbage base.

Bottles of homemade Kombucha Maria brought in for everyone to taste.

Bottles of homemade Kombucha Maria brought in for everyone to taste.

We began by slicing everything up finely and adding salt. Then, we spent a good while massaging and pounding the vegetables to create juice.

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Once there was enough liquid to cover the kraut, we loaded up jars and placed a cabbage leaf on top to help protect the mixtures as they ferment.

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We’ll leave our jars to sit for about a month before opening them up and having a tasting party!

Our sauerkraut rainbow!

Our sauerkraut rainbow!

Apprenticeshop

THE APPRENTICESHOP IS AN EDUCATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION LOCATED ON PENOBSCOT BAY IN MIDCOAST MAINE.
DEDICATED TO INSPIRING PERSONAL GROWTH THROUGH
CRAFTSMANSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND TRADITIONS OF THE SEA.

The Village Canoe Floating Art Residency

By Chris Battaglia

Paddling at dusk, from the author’s first experience in a big canoe and on the Mississippi River in 2013. Photo Credit: John Ruskey.

Paddling at dusk, from the author’s first experience in a big canoe and on the Mississippi River in 2013. Photo Credit: John Ruskey.

In the fall of 2013, I hadn’t the slightest clue how four nights and five days on the Mississippi River would alter the course of my life. 

Those 100 miles on the Lower Mississippi River, between Greenville, and Vicksburg, Miss., led me to new lines of thinking about myself and my work, where I lived, and — somehow — led me on a seven-week expedition from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico in a 30-foot wooden, voyageur-style canoe. The following is a clip to try to express some of the feelings and perspective found between the levees:

This odyssey inspired me to create an artist residency and exhibition program that would mirror the virtues inherent in an immersive, outdoor expedition with strangers, and culminate in the creation of a space for the creative works produced or inspired during the expedition. Rather than on the Mighty Mississippi, however, it would take place on our coastal and interior waterways here in Maine. The project is called The Village Canoe, and it is happening at the end of summer/early autumn of this year, 2019.

After nearly six weeks paddling from St. Louis, our crew made it to the Bonnet Carre Spillway in early May, 2017— just 30 miles north of New Orleans. Due to severe weather conditions, we decided to suspend our final push to the Gulf for another time. Upon my return to Maine, I caught wind of a duo making an art/Shanty boat bound for the Mississippi River that year, their journey beginning in Minnesota and ending in New Orleans. I reached out, met Morgan, one half of the pair, and she suggested visiting The Apprenticeshop (where they were building the boat out in the yard). I assured her I would, as I had a canoe project in mind.

Several months passed. Our expedition resumed in November that same year, finishing with a 10-day trip from whence we left-off (just above New Orleans) and quietly arriving to the Gulf of Mexico, just below Southpass, Louisiana. Again, I returned to Maine, this time, with aspirations to bring elements of the journey— self-discovery, renewed agency in environmental stewardship, making meaningful social connection — back home. Someone along the way proposed I look into The Apprenticeshop in Rockland. I rarely shake my head at two independent nods in the same direction. So, on a drive from Belfast to Portland in mid-February, I chose to take the coastal route, stopping in Rockland.

Here I met the cohort of apprentices, in early 2018, who gave me an informal tour of the organization and its multi-level boatbuilding shop. With good fortune, I met Morgan’s other half of Carrier Pigeon Studio, Emily. We spoke quickly but excitedly about the strange connections cropping up between Mississippi and Maine and about various boat projects, buttoning up the conversation with plans to communicate about these things in the future.

Exploration on islands, teamwork setting up camp, and painting by headlamp during heavy rain and thunderstorms. Photo Credits: Chris Battaglia.

Exploration on islands, teamwork setting up camp, and painting by headlamp during heavy rain and thunderstorms. Photo Credits: Chris Battaglia.

One year later, The Village Canoe has developed into an immersive, outdoor, floating artist residency and exhibition. Structured as an expedition, the residence will take place from a 30-foot voyageur canoe, which holds space for up to six participants — chosen through an open-call application — and one or two registered Maine guides to paddle, camp, and make art for 10 days in late summer of 2019. The route will navigate from a tidal river, one which courses through the interior and flows outward, to the Maine coastline, following portions of the Maine Island Trail and accessible islands. At the culmination of the trip, artists will host a temporary, free, public, and interactive pop-up exhibition of the work produced during the residency. The show will take place outdoors in a movable bow-roof structure – the same enclosure in which the canoe will be built

the voyageur-style canoe, seen here carrying six paddlers and all of their gear, was used during the fur-trade to carry freight. The design is built for heavy cargo and excels at navigating the winds and whitecaps of the Great Lakes, as well as cruising down rivers. Photo Credit: Chris Battaglia.

the voyageur-style canoe, seen here carrying six paddlers and all of their gear, was used during the fur-trade to carry freight. The design is built for heavy cargo and excels at navigating the winds and whitecaps of the Great Lakes, as well as cruising down rivers. Photo Credit: Chris Battaglia.

By fostering an interdisciplinary cohort of participants, The Village Canoe aims to become an accessible opportunity for new creative voices, both emerging artists and established career artists, people who don’t normally consider themselves artists, naturalists, citizen scientists, anthropologists, and more.

John Ruskey explores fauna on a nature walk, with paddler John Abnet onlooking. Photo Credit: Chris Battaglia.

John Ruskey explores fauna on a nature walk, with paddler John Abnet onlooking. Photo Credit: Chris Battaglia.

An unfinished voyageur canoe in the shop at Quapaw Canoe Company. Built in the style of Ted Moores strip construction , these boats are nearly 30 feet long, weigh nearly 400 pounds empty, and can carry up to 8 passengers fully loaded with personal and expedition gear (in the author’s experience). Photo Credit: Chris Battaglia.

An unfinished voyageur canoe in the shop at Quapaw Canoe Company. Built in the style of Ted Moores strip construction , these boats are nearly 30 feet long, weigh nearly 400 pounds empty, and can carry up to 8 passengers fully loaded with personal and expedition gear (in the author’s experience). Photo Credit: Chris Battaglia.

Author Misao Dean, in her work Inheriting a Canoe Paddle: The Canoe in Discourses of English-Canadian Nationalism, writes, “The task of commissioning or building a canoe can be a great achievement in the health of a small community, signaling the growth of organizational ability, the ability to inspire young people and impose discipline, and the growth of hope and pride.”

The canoe tends to encourage growth of important personal qualities, while paddling in tandem with a boatload of other paddlers, including, but not limited to: teamwork, flexibility, self-and-other-care, accountability, and value of process.

This project aims to build on the rich canoe traditions of Maine — both historical and cultural — by adapting the traditional voyageur design to allow for flexible function, as well as to represent a variety of origins. The goal? To further reinforce this boat as functional art, an invitation to new opportunity, and symbol of community. It’s an art boat — a hybrid; both of these qualities are purposeful.

Here, in the heart of the Delta, Amanda Battaglia - who journeyed from Maine to Mississippi for two nights aboard the expedition - was one of the 40+ paddlers who joined the expedition for a short stint to help celebrate the completion of the  Rivergator . Photo Credit: Chris Battaglia.

Here, in the heart of the Delta, Amanda Battaglia - who journeyed from Maine to Mississippi for two nights aboard the expedition - was one of the 40+ paddlers who joined the expedition for a short stint to help celebrate the completion of the Rivergator. Photo Credit: Chris Battaglia.

The residence will culminate in a weekend-long pop-up exhibition, celebrating and showing the work made during and afterward by the artists. The show will take place in a 20’ x 40’ Stimson Bow-Roof shed (traditionally used for greenhouses and boat storage) because it is affordable, easy to construct, transportable, and aesthetically echoes the image of an overturned-canoe — thereby reinforcing the connection between audience and the project conceit.

Hopefully, this (admittedly ambitious) project will become a roving community-arts destination, host to a dynamic and novel art experience equally educational, interactive, and inspirational. The Village Canoe looks to the future as a multi-phase program to make more meaningful art and increase social engagement with the outdoors.

Want to get involved?

Sign-up for the newsletter to receive updates on the residency, exhibition, volunteer opportunities, community events, and more!

Make a donation directly to the project (follow the website link below) orto our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, the Belfast Creative Coalition, attn: The Village Canoe

Follow the journey online at https://villagecanoe.org, and on instagram and Facebook @thevillagecanoe.

Apply to be one of our artists-in-residence! Applications open on February 1 and will close on March 31, at 11:59 pm EST.

Support for The Village Canoe is provided by The Kindling Fund, a grant program administered by SPACE as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation For The Visual Arts Regional Regranting Network. 

Apprenticeshop

THE APPRENTICESHOP IS AN EDUCATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION LOCATED ON PENOBSCOT BAY IN MIDCOAST MAINE.
DEDICATED TO INSPIRING PERSONAL GROWTH THROUGH
CRAFTSMANSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND TRADITIONS OF THE SEA.

Break the Anchor is Lofting!

Many of you have already heard about Break the Anchor, perhaps from attending the fundraising auction the Shop held last March. Well, the project is finally underway. João Bentes, an Apprenticeshop graduate from Portugal (2016-2018) started "Break The Anchor - Partir A Âncora", a Portuguese non profit CRL with the intent to bring traditional boatbuilding back to Portugal.

In collaboration with the Apprenticeshop, he will reconstruct a Portuguese Sardine Carrier from the 19th and 20th century. After building, launching, and conducting sea trials, BTA will cross the Atlantic by way of the Azores, landing on Portuguese shores to establish an apprenticeship-based school of seamanship and boatbuilding. The Sardine Carrier will serve as an itinerant workshop.

Current Phase

João is currently lofting the boat in the basement of Steel House South. Lofting is one of the first steps of traditional boatbuilding. In this phase of construction, the lines on the plan are drawn out at full scale. The completed lofting will allow him make patterns for key components of the boat, such as the stem and sternpost, and will be an important resource as he begins constructing the vessel. João plans to involve current apprentices, as well as the local community. After the lofting is complete, BTA will gather funds to assemble the backbone and start planking later this year.

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Apprenticeshop

THE APPRENTICESHOP IS AN EDUCATIONAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION LOCATED ON PENOBSCOT BAY IN MIDCOAST MAINE.
DEDICATED TO INSPIRING PERSONAL GROWTH THROUGH
CRAFTSMANSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND TRADITIONS OF THE SEA.