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"Virginia" Offers Women's Shipbuilding Day November 8

October 28, 2015

“Virginia” Offers Women’s Shipbuilding Day November 8

 Join a group of other interested volunteers at Maine’s First Ship’s waterfront boatshed on Sunday, November 8, for the second annual Women’s Shipbuilding Day in Bath. Maine’s First Ship is building “Virginia,” a reconstruction of the first ship built by English colonists in 1607 at the mouth of the Kennebec.

 While the original was built entirely by men, those involved with “Virginia” these days are looking to provide more opportunities for women to build the ship. “We had our first Women’s Shipbuilding Day last year,” said MFS Volunteer Coordinator Jeremy Blaiklock of Arrowsic, adding, “It was a great way to introduce them to the project in low key, supportive environment.”

 Shipwright Rob Stevens of Woolwich likes to tell visitors that Gail Smith, a participant in last year’s event, “is our best volunteer, but don’t tell the guys that.” This means showing up on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year to help build the ship. Smith, a retired EMT, hails from Topsham.

 Participants can expect a brief presentation on the background of “Virginia” and the colonists who built her. The colony, named Fort St. George, was located on what is now FortBaldwin in Popham. Operating under the same royal charter as the colony at Jamestown, the Maine settlement lasted only one year, but they built a ship designed for coastal exploration and trade. When the colony folded, “Virginia” crossed the Atlantic to England, and then made at least one trip to re-supply Jamestown in 1609.

 The rest of the day will be spent working on today’s “Virginia,” a 51’ pinnace. Currently, volunteers are in the final stages of fairing the frames, in anticipation of hanging the first planks, which will happen sometime before the snow flies. Other work includes shaping one of the many spars needed to sail “Virginia.” Participants should come expecting to use hand and power tools, which will be provided.

 Maine’s First Ship volunteers expect that “Virginia” is half done at this point, and once she is finished and launched, they hope to offer her for educational and environmental programs, as well as for visitors from near and far to board her and learn about Maine’s 400+ year old tradition of shipbuilding.

 “We’re excited about doing this again,” said Stevens. “It’s a great day and we hope all who are interested in what building a boat is like will spend the day with us.”

 Maine’s First Ship is located on the river side of the Bath Freight Shed on Commercial Street in Bath, just north of the Route 1 Sagadahoc Bridge. Women’s Shipbuilding Day is Sunday, November 8 from 9-3. For more information, contact Orman Hines at 389-2419.

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