Robert Stevens oversees the work of participants in Women’s Shipbuilding Day last year. Stevens will be helping out at next week’s event for the eighth year. Contributed / Kirstie Truluck

Maine’s First Ship is hosting a day just for women who want to help craft 20-foot oars for its replica of the 1607 pinnace Virginia.

“We know there are a lot of dudes working on the vessel, and there’s value in a women’s-only education,” said Kirstie Truluck, executive director of Maine’s First Ship, the Bath organization that has rebuilt the Virginia and provides education and community programs.

The 8th Annual Women’s Shipbuilding Day will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Bath Freight Shed on Commercial Street. Participants, who can stop in for any length of time, will construct sculling oars for the Virginia, which, as a pinnace, can be either sailed or rowed.

Returning shipbuilders and those with no experience are both welcome, Truluck said. The organization aims to create entry points for people to get involved in the ship’s construction, she said, regardless of their backgrounds.

“I think it’s empowering,” she said. “The whole thing is a community-building experience. I love that some of our past participants have stayed on and gone on to have significant roles in the ongoing build of Virginia.”

Megan-Mack Nicholson has participated in a number of the women’s work days.


“It reminds women of their strength, reminds them of community, and allows for a space to try something new,” Nicholson said. “I’ve met some phenomenal women from around New England.”

The shipbuilding project has been largely dominated by men, “so this opens the opportunity for women to be a part of this.”

Robert Stevens will be the instructor at Women’s Shipbuilding Day, which he has been since its inception.

He was inspired to participate because he can understand how women may feel walking onto the ship and seeing “a bunch of old men with beards who you think know what they’re doing.”

“I’m a shy person, so I know what it’s like to feel intimidated about going somewhere where you feel like you’re not really welcome,” Stevens said. “I want to make sure people know they can come and be apart of it.”

The day provides the opportunity for those who might not otherwise have gotten involved to try their hand at construction, he said. “I got my best volunteer through women’s shipbuilding day.”

He emphasized that no prior experience is needed, but he does encourage participants to bring doughnuts.

“Doughnuts are what make shipbuilding get done,” he said.

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