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Preserve gives spruce trees to a cross-Atlantic journey

May 04, 2021
From left, Susan St. John donor of the Ash Point Preserve, João Bentes and his son Oliver.

João Bentes, an instructor at the Apprenticeshop has a vision: to build a traditional Portuguese sardine carrier with local Rockland youth, sail it across the Atlantic and start a traditional boatbuilding Apprenticeshop in Portugal. João approached the Georges River Land Trust for “spar” material.

Spars — the masts, yards and booms which serve to hold up the sails - can be made of any locally available wood that is flexible, light and strong. Our coastal Maine woods are full of such softwood timber, and João noted downed spruce trees at Ash Point Preserve that, in his mind, would be perfect.

With the blessings of Georges River Land Trust, João will carefully remove four or five such trees, either red or black spruce, and transport them by water to the Apprenticeshop. There, with local youth and apprentices, he will build the Canoa de Picada, which translates to “boat minced with salt.”

The early 19th century vessels caught sardines, salted them at sea and stored them below deck. João is eager to introduce the tradition of wooden boat building practiced at the Apprenticeshop to Portugal, where presently no wooden boatbuilding schools exist.

João expects to collect the wood sometime in June, and notices will be posted at the Kiosk and on the Land Trust Facebook page.

To learn more about this project, go to; to find out more about the Apprenticeshop go to, and to learn about the varied Preserves stewarded by the Georges River Land Trust go to

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