Is the Boat Shop a boat-building school?

We are not a school. Although we do have a curriculum, we do not specifically train each apprentice to be a professional boatbuilder.

We are, however, a learning opportunity. A motivated apprentice has available to them the resources and opportunities to learn all the skills needed to build a small wooden boat, and many other skills as well. Our apprentices learn in proportion to the effort they put in.

We are not here just to learn about boats. Boatbuilding is a key vehicle for our work of building greater understanding and compassion for ourselves and others. We spend dedicated time each day learning about ourselves and each other, and sometimes pushing our personal edges. We also regularly do community work like cooking, cleaning, and maintaining our campus.

How religious is the Boat Shop?

The Carpenter’s Boat Shop was founded on the simple Christian (and somewhat universal) ideal of loving yourself and your neighbor, especially your neighbor in need. You, however, do not need to be a Christian to attend the Boat Shop.  We welcome people of all faiths and no faith. Rather than being overtly religious, the Boat Shop is deeply spiritual in its nature as we encourage all in our community to seek out and make meaning in their lives. We do offer grace (gratitude) before all meals and share together in chapel time once a week.  Chapel time consists of group singing, silence, and talking together about topics that matter.  Chapel is led by staff and the apprentices. We may also take time throughout the year to explore a variety of sacred texts and traditions of different faith groups.

Is the Boat Shop an intentional community?

While we live and work together as a community, there are some key differences between the Boat Shop and some forms of intentional communities. There are some decisions we make together, often at our weekly Family Meeting, while others are made at the organizational level by staff and our board of directors; although these may not be ultimately decided by apprentices, we do welcome questions and input.

What are the expectations of apprentices?

We expect apprentices to make a commitment to engaging fully in the program for the entire nine months.  We have specific commitments and expectations which are named in our Terms of Apprenticeship agreement.

What does it cost to apprentice at the Boat Shop?

While the 4-month apprenticeship is tuition-free and includes room and board, apprentices should plan for certain personal expenses not covered by the program.  Apprentices need to cover the expenses of personal hygiene products, car for those who bring one, phone, health insurance, certain entertainment, etc.

Could I hold down a part-time job while I am an apprentice?

No.  The apprenticeship program schedule is too rigorous for any apprentice to hold down a part-time job at the same time.  Do note, however, that there are often opportunities for apprentices to make a bit of pocket change doing odd jobs for those in our local community who need a bit of extra help and are able to pay for this work.

Tell me more about the sailing/seamanship component of the Boatshop experience…

We encourage all of our apprentices to learn how to safely use a variety of fresh and saltwater craft for both rowing and sailing.  On good weather days in the fall and sometimes the spring, apprentices are welcome to go sailing, rowing or paddling between the end of work and dinner and on the weekends. PFDs (life jackets) are provided for all apprentices and must be worn upon arriving at the waterfront.

What kind of boats does the shop build?

We always build 9’6″ and 11′ Monhegan Skiffs. Beyond that, the boats we build depend on customer demand. We build Catspaw Dinghies, peapods, dories, and other traditional designs, as well as repair and refurbish a wide variety of ocean-going craft. Apprentices split their time between restoration and new construction.

What are the living arrangements like?

All apprentices have their own single dorm rooms with a shared bathroom.  As a 3-day visitor, you will have your own guest room as well.  The rooms come with basic furnishings as well as all necessary towels and linens.

Do Apprentices stay on campus during breaks?

Apprentices may stay on campus for Thanksgiving Break. They must leave campus for Winter Break and spring break. Apprentices employed at the Boat Shop in the summer months may remain on campus.

May I bring my pet with me?

No.  We are unable to accommodate apprentices or guests with pets.

May I have guests on campus?

Yes, apprentices are welcome to have guests.  We ask that guests come for no more than 3 working days (this does not include weekends).  Guests are expected to work a half day for each full day and night that they spend with us.  We are not able to accommodate long-term guests of the apprentices.

What campus rules should I know about ahead of time?

Please be aware that alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, and firearms are prohibited on the Boat Shop campus.  We also ask that cell phones not be used during work time nor during scheduled community time such as our meals together.

Are dietary restrictions accommodated in the meal planning?

We do our very best to accommodate all dietary restrictions.  It is important, however, for you to give us advanced notice of any of your needs in order for our house manager to have necessary food items on hand.

May I use the shop for personal projects after work hours?

After our apprentices have completed the necessary training on the use and safety of our power machinery, they are welcome to make use of the work shops after work hours and on the weekends.  We have some project wood available for free use, and we will also provide access to a greater variety and quantity of project wood for reasonable prices.

What other projects will be required of me while at the Boat Shop?

Apprentices are expected to participate in all aspects of community life at the Boat Shop. This include meal preparation, weekly campus chores, frequent community service opportunities, monthly field trips to various boat building and other woodworking related organizations in the area, and sailing or other recreational activities.

What is Pemaquid like? What is there to do nearby?

Pemaquid is both a fishing community as well as major destination for tourists and summer residents.  The population is majority white with little ethnic or racial diversity.

The Pemaquid Peninsula and surrounding midcoast area are full of scenic locations (most notably the Pemaquid Point Light House) and plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities. Hiking trails are almost too numerous to count. The nearest town, Damariscotta, where one can find most basic services and a variety of shopping, restaurants and even a movie theater is 10 miles away. The Boat Shop is 50 minutes from both Brunswick and Rockland, two towns that offer a number of cultural options and increased social opportunities. Portland, the largest city in Maine, is one hour and fifteen minutes away.

FAQ’s from 3 Day Visitors

Can I get to the Boat Shop via public transportation?

By air: The nearest airport to the Boat Shop is in Portland, ME (PWM). From Portland, you can rent a car or take a bus to Pemaquid. Car rentals are available at the airport and taking a bus requires a short taxi transfer to the Portland Bus Terminal. See below for more information on Concord Coachlines. Please note that the bus schedule is very limited with only one or two trips a day heading up to the Boat Shop.

By bus: The Boat Shop is accessible by bus through the Concord Coachlines that runs out of Logan Airport, South Station (Boston), New York City and the Portland Bus Terminal. You will need to take the “Maine Coastal Route” from Portland and get off in Damariscotta. With advanced notice, we can pick you up and drop you off in Damariscotta (which is 10 miles from the Boat Shop). You can view their schedule and purchase tickets on their website at

What should I bring for my three-day visit?

Casual clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty; Warm clothes/jackets in case you happen to be working outside, sturdy shoes (no open-toed shoes are allowed in the workshops); Toiletries; Medications.
We will provide you with bed linens and towels so there is no need for you to bring them. You are welcome to bring your phone and other electronic devices, but we will ask that you use them only during your personal time and not while you are in the workshops or at the Boat Shop table.

What should I expect during my three-day visit?

During your stay with us, you will most likely have a single room located amidst our current apprentices. We will expect you to follow the Boat Shop schedule which begins with breakfast at 7am each day. Throughout your time with us, you will work in each of our workshops, spending time with our different instructors as well as working in the kitchen with our House Manager. It is our hope that your 3-day visit will give you a taste of what it is like to be an apprentice at the Boat Shop and to live in a community.

Near the conclusion of your 3-day visit, two of our staff members will sit and talk with you for about 45 minutes for an exit interview. Don’t worry, this is not a test, but rather a time for you to reflect on your visit, ask any questions that you might have about your visit and for us to continue to get to know you a bit better. A staff member will take notes during the interview, and the notes will be used during our final selection process.