The Boat Project


The Hunter Bay Boat Project

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Who is the Hunter Bay Boat Project?

Over the course of the boat construction and exedition there have been sixteen primary participants including Steven Brouwer and Molly Bill, the hosts and facilitators of the construction circus.

Steven Brouwer "Thirty-one years ago I was a house carpenter with an engineering degree looking for something more interesteing to do with my time. I found it at The Apprentice Shop in Bath, Maine. There we built traditional wooden boats for sail ond oar. I was enthralled by the complexity, the problem solving, the functionality, and the romance of building boats. I've been building them as well as cabinets and furniture along with some farming ever since. Molly, my wife, and I have three sons prone to adventure with a desire to live on boats, build boats, or both. Things come around, don't they."


Molly Bill "I was raised in Seattle where my life in a large family was enriched summer and winter by time spent on the water and in the mountains. In 1973, I began a two-year program at the Apprenticeshop in Bath Maine, where I became acquainted with wood working tools, the art of building lovely small traditional craft...and Steven. After ten years in Maine, we moved, with our two young boys, to live on my mother's sheep and angora goat farm on Lopez Island. Twenty-three years and another son later, I am still here, raising a small flock of sheep, gardening, appreciating community and, wondering at the adventures of our sons as they venture forth into the world...and sometimes return with rather ambitious projects!"


Ben Brouwer (boat builder, expedition leader) grew up on Lopez Island where he was raised on midnight sailing excursions, fantastical rambles in the woods, his grandmother's sourdough pancakes and the sawdust from his father's boat shop. His education at Middlebury College prodded him towards dance, foolery, and a perspective of the world informed by the questions of geography.

  • Small-boat sailing instructor, Summers 1997-2000
  • NOLS Rocky Mountain Semester course alum, Spring 2000
  • 3,600 mile solo bike tour from Middlebury, VT to Lopez Island, WA, Summer 2001
  • SEA semester sailing/oceanography course alum; 6 week offshore sailing component, Spring 2003
  • 2,400 mile bike tour from Banff, Alberta to Denali, AK, Summer 2003
  • Published photographer, National Wildlife and Middlebury Magazine

Cedar Charnley (boat builder, expedition leader), long-time Lopezant and, wanderer of islands. After a few years enjoyed rambling the mountains and seas, poking a curious nose into distant countries and "learning himself good" at The Evergreen State College, Cedar has come home for this dream come true. A passion for woodworking and an inkling for adventure has Cedar cart-wheeling with excitement for this proiject and journey north.

  • Month-long kayak expedition on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, Summer 2001
  • Kayak guide for Lopez Kayak, Lopez Island, WA, Summers 2002-2004
  • 10-day solo hike across Cascades combined with 7 day kayak on Rose lake, WA, Summer 2002
  • Kayak, white water raft, and hiking instructor for The Outdoor Program, Evergreen, WA, 2003-2004
  • Deckhand/educator on the historic schooner Adventuress, Puget Sound, WA, Fall 2005
  • Wilderness First Aid certified; Lifeguard certified

Alana Sagin (boat builder, expedition member) is from Philadelphia and graduated from Middlebury College. She enjoys playing guitar, rock climbing and religious television. She is very excited to learn boatbuilding and her favorite tool in the boat shop is the crooked knife. After the boat project she plans to live and work in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • Wilderness EMT certified; Ambulance Volunteer
  • NOLS Baja Kayaking and Wind River Rock Climbing course alum
  • AMC Mountain Hut Crew, Summers 2003 and 2005

Ben Gore (boat builder, expedition member) is originally from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma but grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. He graduated from Middlebury College in May 2005 with a degree in Environmental Studies and Creative Writing after an academic career marked by absenteeism, restless wandering and mediocre grades. He's in love with bicycles and likes to write books, fictional and otherwise.

  • Breadloaf Writer's Conference, Summer 2005
  • Bike tour from Banff, Alberta to Denali, AK, Summer 2003
  • Seven years of activism with the student Sierra Club
  • Aspiring Novelist and Essayist

Becca Leaphart (boat builder, expedition member). Rebecca Rodes Leaphart. born: August 18, 1980. to: Walter William Leaphart and Barbara Ann Berg Leaphart. in: St. Peter's Hospital, Helena Montana. childhood physician: Dr. Moore. birth weight: 6 lbs, 13 oz. first spoken word: cookie. walked: backwards before forwards. favorite age (so far): 8 Middlebury College graduation date: May, 2003 major: English with focus in Creative writing. minors: german and education. ideas: learn spanish, start a school, sing, grow long silver hair to brush when i'm in my 90s (like my great grandmother--and namesake--Mary Rodes Leaphart).

  • Montana state certified high school English teacher
  • Aspiring project-based educator, writer and oral historian
  • Middlebury Mountain Club Guide, 2000-2003

Isaac James Pattis (boat builder, expedition member) was raised and schooled in New England. At Middlebury College he pursued an Environmental Studies major with a focus in literature. He is fond of bicycles, skateboards, snowboards, his feet and, movement in general. Other affinities include fine, fair lines and snug joints -- joys that happen to coincide perfectly with the project at hand.

  • Solo hike from Yosemite to Tahoe on the PCT, Summer 2003
  • Hiked the Long Trail, VT, Summer 2004
  • Wilderness First Aid certified
  • Middlebury Mountain Club Guide, 2003-2005

Brook Brouwer (expedition member) was born on a wooden floor, and raised on Lopez black berries. He has been known to daydream the day away with romantic notions of sailing off into the great blue yonder. A product of Douglas fir pitch, whip cream, older brothers, falling snow and tidal waters, he is slowly developing an understanding of the world as ebb and flood. Brook is currently studying biology at Colorado College; his past work experience includes milking Norwegian goats and filling mouthwash dispensers.

  • Small boat sailing instructor, Summers 2001 -2004
  • NOLS Baja Coastal Sailing course, Fall 2003
  • 30-day solo hike in the North Cascades, Fall 2003
  • Competitive rowing club in Norway, Spring 2002
  • Herbarium Research Assistant at Colorado College 2005-2006
Terray Sylvester (boat builder, expedition member) originated in Truckee Claifornia. He passed the initial portion of his youth upon the nordic trails, powdery slopes, and rocky crags of the Sierras; he also read in his room quite a bit. Sometime around his eighteenth year he wandered to the other side of North America and began to work on an English major at Middlebury College. He has one more semester to complete at school during which he plans to study ecstatically, cook an enormous amount of lentils, and slip off to the mountains as often as possible.

Nikki Morris and Lee Perlow were each involved in the early stages of the project but moved on to follow other interests. Genvieve Baker, Faridah Mow, Robyn Minkler and Tim Gehling all joined Tern for segments of the Summer 2006 voyage.

Site by Brave Cowboy Design/title photo credit to Ben Brouwer and Isaac Pattis | Copyright 2005