According to Graham McKay, boat shop manager, boat builder and director of the Whaleboat Project, “If you don’t engage young people in the process, there will not be anyone there in 20 years to uphold our mission of preserving and perpetuating the art and craft of wooden boat building.”
Before school broke for summer vacation, McKay visited such places as his alma mater, Amesbury High School, to talk about the project and to distribute applications for after-school apprenticeships. He said, “I expected to hand out maybe 12 applications, but the interest was such that I ended up handing out 50 or 60 applications.”
The goals of the apprenticeship program are to instill a sense of workmanship and pride in young people, to cultivate the next generation of stewards of maritime heritage and to foster a passion that will further the mission of Lowell’s, the nation’s longest continuously operating wooden boat building establishment.
McKay noted that a “50-50 gender split for apprenticeships would be ideal” and that the construction of the whaleboat at Lowell’s will begin in October. Upon completion, the whaleboat will be sailed from the boat shop to Mystic Seaport, with port stops along the way to present whaling history to local groups.
Founded by Simeon Lowell in 1793, LBS is the official birthplace of the fishing dory, the mainstay of New England’s legendary fishing industry. By analogy, the whaleboat was to the whaling industry what the fishing dory was to the fishing industry. Both were designed with an eye to form and function; in each case the smaller vessel was carried aboard the mother ship and hauled up or down as needed.
A fundraiser in support of the Charles W. Morgan Whaleboat Project is set for July 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. aboard the tall ship HMS Bounty when she is docked at the Waterfront Park Boardwalk in Newburyport. “Creative black tie,” with boat appropriate footwear (no high heels), as well as champagne, a raw bar, silent auction and ship tours will make the evening one to remember. The cost is $100 per person or $150 per couple.