The Maine Community Foundation has awarded Come Boating! a $5,000 grant to support the construction of a new Cornish pilot gig for its free rowing programs. The boat will enable the organization to bring more people together to enjoy boating on Belfast Harbor. The construction project will provide opportunities for the community to learn firsthand about traditional boat building.

“We are eagerly looking forward to this project and expect that construction will begin in July,” said project coordinator Chris Gordon, adding that fundraising is going well. The white oak and cedar gig will be built by O’Donovan and Dole, Searsport boat builders. Costs will be kept down by using some volunteer labor, skilled and unskilled, under the supervision of John O’Donovan and Patick Dole. Their specialty is building and repairing wooden boats. “Volunteers will have an unusual opportunity to learn about traditional boat building techniques from them” explained Gordon. Come Boating! plans to offer opportunities to the community at large to follow the progress of the gig. The new boat is expected to be completed in the fall.

Come Boating! currently has two pilot gigs, Belle Fast and Selkie, both built by volunteers about 10 years ago. During the summer free community rows are offered every morning and most afternoons. The boating programs grow every year, and last year the gigs took out rowers more than 300 times. Each gig can carry six rowers and a coxswain. Come Boating! also has a youth rowing program and reaches out to community organizations. The Game Loft and Maine Coast Regional Re-entry Center have recently had rowing programs, and other organizations are expected to participate this year. Come Boating! also has racing teams, which compete in regattas and races around New England; its men’s, women’s, and mixed crews have taken first place in races throughout the region.

The organization offers free community sailing as well. Volunteer skippers take both inexperienced and experienced sailors out in a Drascomb Lugger sailboat several times a week during the summer.

Come Boating! is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to providing recreational opportunities and access to the waters of Belfast Harbor and Belfast Bay for area residents and visitors. It is supported primarily by memberships and events. In addition to the Maine Community Foundation grant, donations by members, friends and businesses are making the new gig project possible. Contributions are most welcome.

More information about Come Boating!’s mission, programs, membership and opportunities to support the organization can be found at www.comeboating.org. Come Boating! can be contacted at comeboating.belfast@gmail.com or P.O. Box 1188, Belfast, ME 04915.