ROCKLAND — On a bright and frigid Friday, with wind chills making it feel like one degree Fahrenheit, and sea smoke in the distance beyond the Rockland Breakwater, 10 staff and boatbuilding apprentices submerged their bodies in Penobscot Bay off of Bosun’s Beach at The Apprenticeshop. The inspiration for stripping down and braving water only slightly warmer than the air was to kick-off the 50th anniversary of this school for traditional wooden boatbuilding and seamanship.

The Apprenticeshop, started in 1972 as part of the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, was founded on the idea that to develop resourcefulness, resilience and communal bonds in young people, education should combine thought and action. The program was built around the method of apprenticing, where a novice works alongside someone more skilled, with traditional boatbuilding and seamanship providing the perfect medium to foster personal growth. For 50 years the mission and methodology of The Apprenticeshop remains in keeping with these original ideals, launching hundreds of traditionally built boats and graduating hundreds of boatbuilding apprentices and sailors — a number of whom would go on to start and run boat shops and schools across the country and world.

In 1999, The Apprenticeshop settled at its current home between Main Street and Rockland Harbor, and has offered year-round programs to people ages six-and-up, centered on traditional wooden boatbuilding and seamanship. Some of the many opportunities to engage, include: Weekend workshops, during and after school Jr. Apprenticeships for local middle and high schoolers, weekly sailing camps, and three-month to two-year boatbuilding apprenticeships. Visitors are welcome to our waterfront any time and in the shop by appointment.

Once a month over the course of 2022, The Apprenticeshop will acknowledge the anniversary with a special activity. A celebration week, from July 14-23, will include various on-the-water and in-the-shop activities open to the public. Stay tuned through our website (, and social media for more updates.

The Apprenticeshop is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and welcomes support.

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