Village to host Maine author John Willey

Posted:  Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 7:45am
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St. Andrews Village will host Maine author John Willey at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22. Willey’s recent book, “A Winter Apprentice,” gives insights into working at Luke’s, a family-owned boatyard in East Boothbay.

John Holt Willey writes prose and poetry grounded in Maine, Maine people, their work and play, shores and sea. Back in 1952 John and a classmate at Good Will High School built two skiffs under the school's sawmill--unknown to their friends, teachers, housemothers, or the school's superintendent. Their first voyage was a run down Marten Stream — through the school's woodlands — to the Kennebec on the spring freshet, of course without permission. Neither boy drowned nor capsized on this first venture. “A Winter Apprentice” begins with the story of these boats, then moves to the winter of 1978-79, when John was hired by Paul E. Luke of East Boothbay to help build and finish the fine sailing/cruising yachts Paul was then building.

As the historian John Gardner confirms, until relatively recently, boatbuilding was not recorded — the life of the yard crew even less so. Here is a rare and vibrant narrative from a winter apprentice. Working from journals and letters written while employed at Luke's, Willey moves his reader inside the daily life of this still-in-the-family yard. From experience that includes farming, a stint at a small publishing house in San Francisco, three years in the United States Marine Corp, his own private investigation office in San Francisco, cabinetmaking in Maine and singing bass in seven choirs, Willey interweaves history, boats, the varieties of patient workmanship and the joys and sorrows of learning to build a floating home that can take you to windward under sail — and keep you safe in hard weather. “Apprentice” includes stories of other workmen in the yard over John's own apprentice winter. The book includes a letter to Willey from John Gardner, just after Gardner had read drafts of early chapters.

Copies of “A Winter Apprentice” and another work, “Observed from a Skin Boat” (poems published 2013) will be available for purchase that afternoon.

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. To RSVP please call 633-0920.