The Carpenter’s Boat Shop is an open and affirming community designed around a free apprenticeship program committed to traditional wooden boatbuilding, seamanship, and service. The Boat Shop was founded in 1979 by Robert and Ruth Ives (a UCC minister and school teacher, respectively) with the goal of creating a community nexus of worship, service and craft. The Boat Shop was initially housed in a converted chicken barn and has since evolved into a gorgeous campus on twenty five acres of land along the Pemaquid River in Maine. For decades, The Carpenter’s Boat Shop has provided a harbor for people from around the country who are navigating the seas of transition from a variety of life circumstances, including: from college to career, aimlessness to new directions, prison to society, marriage to single-hood, or work to retirement. 

getting ready to flip catspaw dinghy in the shop

poem engraved on boatshop plaque

The Carpenter’s Boat Shop attracts those willing to work hard, live simply, and share in work and life with one’s community. In our daily life, we strive to use the Rule of St. Benedict as a way to organize activities of the day and to seek the balance contained in the seven principles of work, worship, study, service, recreation, hospitality, and prayer. We adopt work and living practices that foster sustainability, an appreciation of the natural environment, and an opportunity to explore one’s personal beliefs through reading, study, and discussion. Through autumn recreation time on the water apprentices can practice seamanship and explore the rugged Maine coastline and waterways.

In the end, The Carpenter’s Boat Shop isn’t just about boats; its about extending the care that one takes building boats to oneself and to others. It’s about learning how to be better prepared for one’s life journey.

Welcome to our Table

At the Boat Shop, we value our differences, even as we strive to build one community. Our core commitment is to learning and growing together. For this, we need the views and heritage that each person brings to our large kitchen table. We welcome people of every race, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, and religion.

We are not here just to build boats. Boatbuilding is a key vehicle for our work of building greater understanding and compassion for ourselves and others. We also devote time each day and each week to learning about ourselves, each other, and the world we are part of. Our reflections explore identity, privilege, how we live our values, what excites us, what deadens us, what we believe in. Sometimes this means probing our personal edges and witnessing others speaking their truths. Other times it means playing together. We believe that balancing work, reflection, play, and learning keeps us whole.


The Carpenter’s Boat Shop does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, political affiliation or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, selection of apprentices, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all who enter into our community. The Carpenter’s Boat Shop is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and is not a political advocacy organization.