There are some really great programs out there for kids who want to experience the ocean who live nowhere near it: sail training ships in USA, Canada & the world, or the awesome Ocean School that, among other things, brings the ocean to the classroom.
But what about something for people who are on a tighter budget. Here in Nova Scotia, we all live at most 65 kilometers from the ocean as the crow flies and yet many of us cannot afford to own or even have access to a boat. Nova Scotia Sea School helps a lot with that. The NSSS another amazing program that we are lucky enough to have right here in Lunenburg. But we want more. Not just the Dory Shop – all of us here in Lunenburg who are involved with boats and the ocean.
Enter Eamonn Doorly from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. He has been the major force behind a truly brilliant project here in Nova Scotia: building Bevin Skiffs with youth. What makes it particularly brilliant is the fact that it costs nothing for the participants. They work together to build the skiffs over a 3-day period. He (or, as this project is becoming more popular, other boat builders) are there to teach and guide, but the kids do the work, and then launch & row their boats on day 3 of the project. (Watch a video here!)
This past weekend at three different spots here in Nova Scotia, we had a Bevin Skiff build-a-thon (I made up the build-a-thon part). Essentially, we simultaneously built seven skiffs: In Halifax, they built four with Eamonn and his crew of helpers; in Lunenburg, they built two with Fisheries Museum boat builder Lisa Zygowski and her team of helpers; and in Shelburne, they built one with dory builder Milford Buchanan and his helpers. We were lucky enough to be involved, even if only on the periphery of the project here in Lunenburg, as it was hosted by the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. The build in Shelburne was hosted by the Dory Shop Museum.
To say the weekend was successful is an understatement. The kids and builders alike thoroughly enjoyed the projects at all three locations. And as I mentioned above – it was the first annual project of its kind. That means next summer kids aged 12-18 can once again take part in building, launching & rowing a boat for free. We at the Dory Shop are proud to have been able to help, and we can’t wait for the next one. We need to get kids out on the water, and if they can get out there in boats they built with their own hands so much the better!
Thanks to Eamonn, Lisa & Milford and the three museums for making this happen. And here are some photos so you can all experience a bit of what I got to experience!