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April 25, 2013

Whaleboat Project reaches $100,000 goal

AMESBURY — Lowell’s Boat Shop announced last week that it has officially reached its fundraising goal of $100,000 for the Whaleboat Project, giving the shop enough money to complete the replica whaleboat while continuing apprenticeship and education programs into the foreseeable future.

Fundraising has been ongoing throughout the past year, and Lowell’s said events like last July’s gala on the tall ship HMS Bounty and grants from the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank ($5,000) and the Institution for Savings Charitable Foundation ($10,000) were instrumental in reaching the goal.

The primary purpose of the funds is to complete the 28-foot replica whaleboat, which is being built by Lowell’s to accompany the Charles W. Morgan, the last extant whaling ship, on its 38th voyage beginning in 2014.

The Charles W. Morgan is currently undergoing a multi-million-dollar restoration at the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and whaleboats similar to the one being built at Lowell’s are being constructed across the country to join it on its voyage. The whaleboats will also be used on exhibit at the Mystic Seaport as well.

Construction of the whaleboat is well under way, and over the past year nine area high school students have worked as apprentices on the project through the shop’s educational program.

The students have been working on the boat under the guidance of Graham McKay, Lowell’s manager and boat builder, and have acquired hands-on boat building skills and a full appreciation of maritime heritage through their efforts.

Lowell’s is now seeking apprenticeship applications for next year, when it is expected the boat will be completed.

Beyond the apprenticeship program, the fundraising effort has also allowed Lowell’s Boat Shop to offer numerous maritime-themed educational outreach programs. Over the past academic year it has hosted over 200 students a month for various programs ranging from using traditional navigation tools to rowing.

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