HARPSWELL — For most people, Sunday is a day of rest, but for the past two months, Ann Flannery and her team of young boat builders have been hard at work.

In mid-January, Flannery, a longtime woodworker and Cundy’s Harbor resident, launched a program for local children ages 6 and older known as “Harpswell Boat Builders.” It’s held at Flannery’s workshop, where they’re building a wooden rowboat from scratch.

When completed, Flannery said, it will be auctioned to benefit the Holbrook Community Foundation, for which she is a volunteer director.

According to its website, the nonprofit was formed in 2005 after a “for sale” sign on Holbrook Wharf inspired a dozen Cundy’s Harbor residents to organize and “save (the) working waterfront property from private residential development.”

To do so, members of the foundation bought the property, which includes the commercial fishing wharf, seasonal store, seasonal snack bar and a historic house.

“It’s all about keeping the waterfront working,” Flannery said. “It was in danger of somebody buying it up and building condos and stuff like that. Not that condos are bad, but the lobstermen would have been out of a harbor, their livelihood.”


Flannery, who is also a yoga teacher, said her role with the Holbrook Community Foundation is what inspired her to launch the boat-building group.

“I, as a board member, thought, well how can I contribute?” Flannery said. “I love woodworking, and I have a beautiful shop, and building boats with young people has been done many, many times before in Maine.”

A group Flannery is acquainted with in Blue Hill is also constructing a similar boat, which she said has been helpful because of the videos they post online of their process. Though Flannery has built boats of her own in the past, she has never built a rowboat.

Roughly 10 children are involved, which Flannery said is “enough” to get the job done, but she would be open to accepting more.

As junior boat builders, they primarily use hand saws, planes and drills as opposed to power tools which, Flannery thinks, is important for beginning woodworkers.

“They’re learning a lot about measuring and how to use hand measuring tools, and to me it’s more important than learning how to use some big machine,” she said. “To me, it’s really the fundamentals.”


Flannery mills the wood during the week so it will be ready for the children’s three-hour session Sunday.

She said she expects to have the boat done by the end of the school year, and before it’s auctioned off, the builders will have an opportunity to take it out on the water.

The young woodworking students will also be choosing the color and painting the rowboat, though Flannery said she thinks she will give them some options to vote on.

Based on her experience this year, Flannery said she would like to continue the program in the future.

“I like working with the kids, I’m learning a ton about how to work with them, how to let them do it but yet sort of (doing) a little quality control,” she said.

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