SPIRIT, built by the Apprenticeshop – dedicated to wooden boatbuilding and seamanship – in Rockland, Maine, and launched in 2017, is similar to the over 200 Pilot Gigs currently in use for recreation and racing in the southwest of England. The design was developed gradually over 200 years ago, to create the fastest boat which could bring a pilot to the incoming sail vessels coming across the Atlantic. SPIRIT is one of ten similar pilot gigs within a 15-mile radius here on the coast of Maine, and there are others in the states of Massachusetts and Vermont as well.
COME BOATING!, a volunteer rowing organization just up the coast from Rockland, hosts racing regattas to which all are invited.
The Apprenticeshop was founded in the early 1970s by Lance Lee. Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound in Britain, was Lance’s inspiration. Lance was an Outward Bound instructor himself and believed deeply in Hahn’s philosophy that “the aim of education is to impel people into value forming experience.” Here on the rugged, rock-and-fog-bound coast of Maine, my late husband, Bob Rheault, and I taught for over 30 years with the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in 30′, four-oared, spritsail ketch open pulling boats.
Bob, as a long time member of the Apprenticeshop Board, was deeply involved and committed to its educational philosophy. As I had retired from open-boat voyaging on this rugged coast, it seemed like a fitting tribute to Bob to have SPIRIT built by the Apprenticeshop, and to cox and row her daily here in these home waters.
We keep SPIRIT in the water here in Mane from May through to the autumn, but she is also easily launched – weighing about 700 lbs. – by a crew of between 16 to 20. At the Port Townsend, Washington, USA wooden boat festival in September, 2018 SPIRIT greeted festival goers on the hard, and when we wanted to go out for a row, we simply gathered a large group from those at the festival and carried her into the water.
SPIRIT takes a team! Come help us launch her, come for a row, come be impelled into value forming experience!