The Carpenter’s Boat Shop Apprenticeship is a 9-month commitment beginning in mid-September and ending in early June. Each year, 10 apprentices are selected from a pool of 20-30 applicants 18 years of age or older. This is a tuition-free apprenticeship that provides on-campus room and board in exchange for labor building boats, sharing in meal preparation and maintaining the facilities. Our standard crafts include 9’6″ and 11′ Monhegan Skiffs and a 12’9″ Catspaw Dinghy (sailing and rowing models), along with a variety of other traditional wooden boats native to New England such as dories and peapods. Many other small wooden boats native to New England are built on a contract basis. Restoration work is completed on a very wide array of wooden craft from small wooden dinghies to 24 foot sloops.

The Carpenter’s Boat Shop provides a rare opportunity to hit the “reset” button on life. …for free. Regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, past life experiences and future ambitions, the Boat Shop invites apprentices into their community focused on boat building, sailing, seamanship and service. While the roots of the Carpenter’s Boat shop are based in Christianity, the Boat Shop is an open and affirming community that welcomes all beliefs and cultures. Whether your ambition is to work in a boat building or woodworking trade, enter the ministry, take time to heal from the loss of a loved one, transition into retirement, or simply evaluate the trajectory of your life, the Carpenter’s Boat Shop offers a supportive community within which to learn and grow. No previous woodworking, sailing or community living experience is required to be accepted as an apprentice.

Since our founding in 1979, the Boat Shop has served over 300 apprentices. Here are but a few examples of people whose lives have been positively impacted by this experience:

  • Jon, Class of 1997. Jon came to the Boat Shop following high school seeking direction in his life. While mentoring at a local school during his apprenticeship, Jon discovered his love for working with children. He has now served as an inner-city public school teacher at an elementary school in Philadelphia for over 15 years.
  • Holly, Class of 2001. Holly came to the Boat Shop seeking a way to integrate her love of community, hands-on ministry, and her spirituality. She is now the Executive Director of the Beacon Hill Friends House in Boston.
  • Kurt, Class of 2004. Kurt found himself without direction after college but discovered his love of wooden boat building during his Apprenticeship and is now the Boat Shop manager for the Maine Maritime Museum.
  • Sophie, Class of 2010. Sophie came to the Boat Shop unable to stay focused in school or on the job. After completing a successful apprenticeship at the Boat Shop, Sophie is now studying engineering at the University of Maine.

Regardless of circumstances, ambitions, or expectations of entering apprentices, we can attest that time at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop allows apprentices to build boats, nurture lives, help others, and help themselves. The daily schedule and annual calendar of work and play are influenced by the Rule of St. Benedict, which seeks the balance contained in the seven principles of work, worship, study, service, recreation, hospitality, and prayer. Many of these principles are woven into the fabric of daily life in the shop, during times of reflection, and during tea time with daily visitors. Time each week is spent assisting the local community as needed. And, one’s time on the coast of Maine would not be complete without messing about in boats. Apprentices engage with Maine’s rich maritime history by not only building traditional wooden craft but also sailing and rowing them along Maine’s alluring granite shoreline. Accordingly, Boat Shop recreation is generally in the form of sailing and seamanship lessons allowing apprentices to share in this timeless tradition.

The Boat Shop and the apprenticeship experience are supported by the sale of boats built by apprentices and by the gifts of many generous donors.