EASTPORT, Maine — A veteran boat builder who has taught the craft in Washington County for nearly 15 years was named Friday to head the Eastport Boat School, now part of Husson University.
Clinton Tuttle, 65, of Perry will serve as the school’s director, Husson President William Beardsley announced at a press conference at the school.
“I have built boats and taught boat building my entire life,” Tuttle said in a press release announcing his appointment. “The Eastport Boat School and Husson University are a winning combination. I simply want to teach the next generation the art of building boats and make a difference in Downeast Maine.”
Tuttle, who has lived in Washington County since 1969, built boats with new composite technology as part of a New Zealand exhibit at the Montreal World’s Fair in the late 1960s. He taught boat building at the Boat School, constructing more than 25 Herreshoff Buzzard Bay 14-foot wooden sailboats with students in the 1970s. He also built and marketed canvas and wooden Maine Guide Canoes as owner of the Island Falls Canoe Co.
“The multiplier effect of a new generation of craftsmen, fishermen and boatsmen and maritime entrepreneurs has the potential for helping to create a rising economic tide on Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays,” Beardsley said. “That’s why Husson and the Boat School are here. That’s why we have hired a local craftsman, teacher and entrepreneur to lead the way.”
Since 1995, Tuttle has been lead instructor and director of the boat-building, navigation and seamanship program at Washington Academy in East Machias. He is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineering Training Wing, and numerous apprenticeship and certificate programs, according to the press release.
The Boat School had six students two years ago when Husson took it over, according to Thom Johnston, president of the New England School of Communications, who took part in the press conference. This fall, enrollment will be more than 20, he said.
“We’ve operated the program from Bangor to keep overhead down but now we are ready for a full-time teaching director,” Johnston said. “Clint Tuttle has taught or done almost everything we do. He knows the industry, the community and the Boat School, and above all else he has a passion for teaching Maine youth who love the sea.”
The Boat School, established in the 1960s, was located in Lubec and Calais before settling on the edge of Deep Cove in Eastport. In 2007, the state transferred the land and facilities to the city of Eastport, and Husson replaced Washington County Community College as operator of the Boat School.
“Boat building, maintenance and seamanship are part of our Downeast heritage,” Beardsley said in the press release. “They are part of what communities such as Eastport are all about. [These are] skills and values that can build a 21st century creative and sustainable economy.
“If you can curve a black spruce plank on a pea pod dingy, you can inlay bird’s-eye maple on a classical guitar,” he said. “If you can build, maintain and navigate a boat you can earn a good living off the sea.”
The Boat School offers one-year certificates in wooden boat construction and composite technology, and soon will hold classes in marine engines and systems and surfacing. The school also owns the only travel lift in Down East Maine. It is operated jointly with adjoining Moose Island Marine.
“As Husson moves into doctoral degrees and an ever larger array of undergraduate and graduate professional degrees, the Boat School beats to a different drummer,” Beardsley said. “It’s our anchor to windward and our firm belief that hands-on career education leading to a skill and a job rather than a degree may be part of the future of Maine.”