Student Film on Boat Builder Dick Pulsifer ’62 to Air on MPBN

Hull 111, a film that follows boatbuilder Dick Pulsifer ’62 as he works on his 111th wooden boat will be shown on MPBN Oct. 8, at 10:30 p.m., and again on Oct. 10, at 11:30 a.m. The film is by three recent Bowdoin graduates, Rita Liao ’15, Eric Levenson ’15 and Lucy Green ’15.

By Rita Liao ’15

As Dick Pulsifer ’62, of Brunswick, Maine, set out to build his 111th Hampton boat, Eric Levenson ’15, Lucy Green ’15 and I entered our last semester at Bowdoin. All three of us came at this project from different parts of the world and with different interests.

Levenson fell in love with wooden boatbuilding when he was a study-abroad student in Zanzibar. After he returned to Maine, he sought out an apprenticeship with Pulsifer. Levenson wanted to know why, in the digital age, young people were still pursuing this kind of manual work. Green, who was working on an art project, wanted to explore the parallels between making art and boatbuilding. My spiritual mentor, Bowdoin’s Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Bob Ives ’69, is a wooden boat builder. I questioned whether there was a link between spirituality and boatbuilding.

From January to May, we shot and edited the film. We made mistakes, talked to the boatbuilding community, proceeded step by step, and became a little less anxious about finishing by graduation. There were frequent all-nighters at the editing room, but there were also gifts of eggs from Pulsifer’s chickens and black tea from David Conover ’83, our project advisor and Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Scholar.

By the end of our project, not only had we examined the renaissance of wooden boatbuilding in Maine and the life of Pulsifer, but we also walked away with a better appreciation of community, art and a different way of life. It felt good to graduate with Hull 111.

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