Ann Flannery, at left, began her Harpswell Boat Builders program’s third year on Sunday. Sixteen-year-old Inua Saigou-Baldi of Cundy’s Harbor, at right, is back for a second year. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

HARPSWELL — Ann Flannery was one of the first women to attend the Apprenticeshop, a wooden boat-building school formerly located within the Maine Maritime Museum complex in Bath.

Forty years later, the part-time woodworker and yoga teacher is imparting the skills she learned through the Harpswell Boat Builders program: a course for ages 9-16 that began Sunday at Flannery’s shop Cundy’s Harbor. The program concludes in May, when the team completes a 12-foot vessel.

In building a punt – a work boat with a rowing station that can also fit a small outboard motor – her students will learn how to use hand tools and small hand-held power tools, along with the math skills necessary in boat building and seagoing skills. They will also learn some life lessons along the way, Flannery said.

Hazelton Berry, a Yarmouth 9-year-old, chisels out a mallet during the Harpswell Boat Builders program. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

“My inspiration really is experiential education and just learning by doing,” she said. “And also cooperating with the other kids, and connecting to the other kids, and learning confidence and supporting each other. And to do this project together, they get pretty excited.”

“Doing this is a nice way to get to know people,” said Inua Saigou-Baldi, who took Flannery’s course last year soon after moving to Cundy’s Harbor from New York, and is back this year for another round.

“I just wanted to learn some skills, and then it became really fun, and we were building a boat,” the 16-year-old added. He said he particularly enjoys the precision of drilling and measuring, as well as chiseling and sawing.

Saigou-Baldi is also honing skills like adapting to unexpected circumstances and learning from mistakes. Completing last year’s boat was “a very big accomplishment,” he said. “Knowing that we had done that as a team over the course of a few months and that it was finally … an actual boat that floats.”

Flannery in 2017 joined the board of Holbrook Community Foundation, which aims to preserve and promote Holbrook Wharf as part of a working waterfront. Wanting to contribute something to that effort, she was inspired in 2018 to hold her first Harpswell Boat Builders class, during which a rowboat was built and sold for $2,500, with the proceeds donated to the foundation.

The youths will conduct sea trials on this year’s boat and cruise around before selling it.

The $125 tuition she charges primarily pays for her time; she estimates spending 250 hours per course, during and between classes. Some student aid is available, and more students are welcome to join; Flannery can be reached at 751-9589 or [email protected] to discuss both.

She and colleague Lynette Breton plan to offer a five-day workshop, “Woodworking for Women,” in June; more information is available at lynettebretondesign.com.

Flannery on Sunday had four students, with two more expected next week. She had her younger apprentices making mallets as a side project to familiarize themselves with various hand tools. Saigou-Baldi, meanwhile, was making a pattern for the boat’s frames.

Last year’s boat sold for about $2,500.

Dale Akeley brought his 9-year-old grandson and fellow Yarmouth resident, Hazelton Berry, to the class. He looked forward to his grandson learning to work with hand tools.

“I do that a lot; he sees me do that a lot,” Akeley said. “But there’s nothing like someone new to them teaching them stuff … someone that obviously has experience and maturity.”

“I really liked making the mallet,” said his grandson, who goes by “Haze.” Learning how to use them was “pretty easy,” he said.

Flannery was aided by volunteers involved with the foundation, such as board president and woodworking hobbyist Greg Barmore. “We hope when they’re done they’ve learned how to use all these tools,” he said.

As president of the Holbrook foundation’s board, Barmore sees the class as important in continuing Harpswell’s centuries-long boat building tradition for years to come.

“Passing the traditions of the working waterfront onto the younger generation is a critical part of our mission,” he said. “And boat building is a way to help young people develop skills outside of their electronic devices, and become active in the outdoor waterfront environment.”

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