At the end of the two-day community ship-building festival known as Seaport Days, it's always a lingering question: Who keeps the boat?
"Whoever gets the short straw," joked Mark Messing, a volunteer with the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, which sponsors the event.
Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at Waterfront Park, Seaport Days offers the chance for groups to purchase boat-building kits and create their own vessel. On Sunday, the boats hit the water in the Potomac River — and then it's decision time.
Messing said it's an easy call when families build a boat, as they'll take it home, paint it and prep it for next year. When schools purchase a kit and build a boat, they'll sometimes raffle it off to see which team member takes it home.
The kits, which cost $775 and include oars, are created by the Alexandria Seaport Foundation’s apprentices. The organization focuses on at-risk youth from Alexandria — disadvantaged and out of school, ages 16 to 21 — and provides classroom and in-shop boat-building training to teach professional skills and other life lessons.
The boats are called Bevin's Skiffs, around 11 feet, 8 inches long and 4 feet wide. It takes about 25 hours to construct one with the kit. Groups build their boats under tents provided by the organizers, and apprentices are on hand to assist with the construction and to answer any questions.
IN ADDITION to the ship building, there is model boat construction projects for children at Seaport Days, along with other activities. Boat-owners in the community who own wooden vessels are encouraged to bring their ships to the event to show.
The event is free, but reservations are required for the boat building. Visit www.alexandriaseaport.org or call 703-549-7078 for more information.
<1b>— Greg Wyshynski