Kale Soud, Boatbuilder

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The Apprenticeshop

Kale Soud, Florida, 26

April 5, 2018

Tell me how you found yourself here.

I left Florida four years ago by boat. I was working on a couple of tall ships, the Nina and Pinta, Columbus replica ships. They came up the coast, and came to Maine, and I fell in love with Maine, so I jumped off the ships. Shortly thereafter, I got a job on one of the windjammers, the Angelique. After doing that, I was curious about exploring other things that had to do with boats. Two years ago, I got into boatbuilding. I did an apprenticeship at The Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Bristol, Maine, which is a nine-month program, so I did that for the winter and then I came to The Apprenticeshop to continue that kind of training. I’m in the two year program here. Because I came with some experience, my time here is form-fitted to me. It’s a longer-term apprenticeship.

What do you like about boatbuilding?

I really like learning woodworking, but what is special to me about boatbuilding is that there is this artistic and sculptural aspect to it as well. I don’t even know if I would be so into boatbuilding without having been at The Carpenter’s Boat Shop and The Apprenticeshop because both of those spaces are very community-oriented. For me, in both places, it’s been as much about the learning environment as what is being learned. Now that I’ve been doing it for long enough, I’m thinking about going into it as a career. I’ve done some boatbuilding work on the side.

How do you hope to advance?

I’ve had one foot in sailing and one foot in boatbuilding. My ideal situation would be sailing in the summer and boatbuilding in the fall. I’m also studying to get my captain’s license. I’m trying to see where exactly I can go with boats.

What’s your primary motivation?

Well, in the back of my head, there’s always the goal of owning my own boat, living on it, and having the kind of freedom that comes with that. In order to access that freedom, you have to know how to do a lot. You have to be able to sail competently at the very least, but you also have to know how to maintain a boat, like you would a house. There’s a lot that goes into that, and knowing how to do that safely and competently. You’re constantly working for that. With that dream, I’d like to find work to sustain it.

Tell me about being on the water. 

I really like being on the water. I like the freedom that comes along with it. The idea of being able to pick up and move your house is really wonderful to me. What I really like about boats too – this is something that I learned from working on the water and the Tall Ships – to be good at it, you really have to know every aspect of it, and that kind of sustainably minded care-taking is really appealing to me. There’s a lot of that in Maine, not just on boats. A lot of younger people and older people alike are really into homesteading. It’s all similar in focus. I want to be able to take care of what I have, I want that to be able to carry me where I want to go.

How would you describe waterfront culture?

I’ve met a lot of like-minded people doing boatbuilding and sailing. When I came to boatbuilding, I was having a hard time in college. I was a liberal arts student and I studied Anthropology. [In the waterfront culture] I met people with very similar interests who were not too content with societal expectations: go to college, graduate, get a career, start a family, one thing after another, in terms of being an adult. I’ve met a lot of individuals seeking something else, and there’s a lot of curious and open minds in these industries. There’s a lot of alternative youth and younger people that are really inspiring to me and really creative, trying to make their lives what they want them to be.

What’s the best part?

What appeals to me also is my relationship with Maine. Being from Florida, this is very different from where I’ve come from. There is a dedication to hard work and there’s a lot of labor of love in doing these things and that’s very inspiring for me. Not to mention these waters, and Penobscot Bay, similar bays in the coast of Maine, are beautiful. There’s a lot of opportunities to go travel and hike and camp and it’s really nice to have that at your doorstep, especially if your doorstep can take you to these places.

What’s it like being a woman in boatbuilding?
I’ve been surprised, there’s more equality in terms of gender than I expected there to be when I got here. There’s a lot of opportunities going both ways. I think, with the younger generation entering into boatbuilding and sailing, there’s a lot of change happening with the role of women and other genders. There’s a lot of acceptance. It hasn’t been near as much of a struggle as I thought it might be when I started.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned?

Going into these things, I didn’t know how to sail at all. I didn’t know how to use tools at all. I had never built anything before I started doing boatbuilding. It’s been really nice to be in these spaces that are so accepting and gentle towards that, and very educational and helpful. I’ve really enjoyed building another skill set. Before coming into this, I’d spent my entire life doing school stuff – more academic, writing papers and stuff like that. It’s really rewarding to get my hands on to something and be able to make that something into something beautiful and functional and important in its own way. . . .The extent of my sail training has been on larger vessels – the principles are the same, as far as reading the wind; it’s something that I want to practice and get more comfortable with.

Tell me about the community.

It’s been wonderful. I have met some of my best friends here. I was really afraid to leave school because this environment is so different from the one I came from. I was afraid of another gender in the workforce. The community has been really great, the sailing community, the boatbuilding community, and the larger Midcoast Maine community. I’ve made a lot of really good friends here. This is why I call Maine home. It’s as much about the boats as the people I’ve met. It’s beautiful there [in Camden]. I’ll stay in Maine until I get my floating boat home haha. Yeah, I’m gonna be here until I feel comfortable in terms of everything that I’ve learned here, to take it elsewhere.

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