Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 20, 2019
Brooklin communities connect with Big Country
Student-built boat gets big launch
by Anne Berleant
The hand-built row boat, Big Country, drew the Brooklin school and boat building communities to the Brooklin Boat Yard for its official launch June 6.
This is the 20th year of the program that matches seventh and eighth graders with a boat builder—Eric Blake, Brooklin Boat Yard project manager, in recent years—and has them build the boat from the planks up.
“It’s less about making boat builders out of them than connecting with the community,” Blake said.
The program teaches students that “the best things in life don’t come easy,” he added. “A project that spans over the year is a real thing for them.”
Blake’s son, eighth grader Syrus reflected on the process: “Patience is key because it doesn’t go fast at all.”
Besides patience, students also learned how to use the necessary tools, such as planes, drills and saws.
“We learned you should measure twice and cut once,” seventh grader Eben Betts said.
The launch party included two students throwing down hands in a round of rock-paper-scissors to determine who would christen the boat with a bottle of sparkling cider—Betts won the honor—before the crowd flanked Big Country as its builders led it into the water. Then it was time for a short row around the harbor.
Students built Big Country from a design by builder Havilah Hawkins in space allotted them at WoodenBoat School. It’s name was borrowed from the nickname of NBA player Bryant Reeves.