Organizational Partner: 
Rocking the Boat
July 31, 2019
Mount Desert Islander

From Islesford to the Bronx, and back again, Chummy Spurling skiff reborn

CRANBERRY ISLES — Arthur “Chummy” Spurling, who lived to be 102 and was the last full-time boatbuilder on Little Cranberry Island, built a lot of skiffs in his long career.

Each one was a little bit different.

And until recently, the only set of written plans for a Chummy skiff known to exist were those included in John Gardiner’s 1977 book, “Building Classic Small Craft.”

Those plans, a table of offsets and a scale drawing, were likely created from a half-hull model, according to Ben Bentley, the boatbuilder who recently led a project to build a replica of another Chummy skiff.

Bentley is a boatbuilding teacher at Rocking the Boat, a nonprofit that works with students in the South Bronx to build wooden boats, learn to row and sail and restore urban waterways. His crew of apprentice boatbuilders worked for a year to build the replica skiff, working off an old, unsalvageable boat that belonged to an Islesford summer family...

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