Chewonki’s Boatbuilders Expedition is not your average wilderness trip. While after most trips you take home photographs, grains of sand embedded in your clothing, and stories of places traveled; boatbuilders return home with 17ft-long wooden sea kayaks that they built with their own hands.
Boatbuilders spend the first two weeks of their program working with Bill Thomas, the designer of the kayak they will build. Bill works with the trip leaders and students to guide the process of constructing the boats.
The boatbuilders each begin with pre-cut pieces and assemble them using the “stitch-and-glue” method. In two short weeks, these pieces of plywood are transformed into beautiful seaworthy kayaks ready for the Saguenay Fjord National Park in Quebec. After testing their new craft in Montsweag Creek and a bit of practice, the group is ready to pack up and head out for a three-week paddling adventure.
The Saguenay fjord, one of the world’s longest fjords at 105km, is a unique estuary that is home to many species of whales including Beluga, Minke, Finback, Humpback, and at times even Blue Whales and Orcas. The Boatbuilders travel the entire length of the fjord, enjoying the dramatic cliffs and wildlife sightings, and end their trip where the Saguenay joins the St. Lawrence River.