Shortly after Larry Sadler retired, a visit to a schooner moored along the waterfront prompted a friend to suggest that he consider volunteering at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. Sixteen years later, he is still at it.
"This is an incredible organization to be a part of," said Sadler at the July 21 launch of the William Henry, a 30-foot Potomac River Dory boat. "The boat really looks great. It's good to finally get her out of the shop."
Sadler, along with 40 other volunteers, worked alongside ASF apprentices for two years on the boat that has been named in honor of Bill Hunley, an ASF board member and supporter for more than 20 years.
"This really is a tribute to him," Sadler said. "He is an extraordinary guy and a lot of what drove us was knowing that this would be dedicated and christened to him."
Despite the dreary skies, dozens of volunteers, apprentices and supporters gathered at the foot of Duke Street for the christening of the William Henry, the first of two Dory boats being built to replace the 42-foot Potomac, which has reached the end of her lifespan.
"It was a tremendous effort by our volunteers and apprentices that created this beautiful craft," said ASF Executive Director Kent Barnekov. "It makes you proud to see what was accomplished."
"This really was a group effort. It took volunteers to do the work, companies to contribute and the organizers of the Seaport Foundation to make it all come together."
— Boat designer Dave Helgerson
Established in 1982, the Alexandria Seaport Foundation trains at-risk and disadvantaged youth through its Boatbuilding Apprenticeship Program, an intensive combined GED/vocational training program that operates from facilities based along the Potomac River in Old Town.
"This is a learning experience for everyone involved," said boat designer and ASF board member Dave Helgerson. "The program isn't just about teaching boat building skills. It's about shaping the lives of those who can work in society."
A feature of the William Henry is the electric motor donated by Elco Motors, which will allow the boat to run silently when it takes to the water later this summer.
"This really was a group effort," Helgerson said. "It took volunteers to do the work, companies to contribute and the organizers of the Seaport Foundation to make it all come together."
For more information on the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, call 703-549-7078 or visit alexandriaseaport.org.