Boat Building Skills
Each new build begins with lofting. Apprentices learn to read every part of a boat plan from lines drawings, to scantlings, to a table of offsets. Occasionally apprentices have the opportunity to take lines off an older boat or change plans to fit the needs of a client.
Working with large timbers, Apprentices learn first hand the traditional joinery that is required for quality backbone construction. From stem to stern, a crew will fashion a keel, make molds, cut and shape floor timbers, and practice every aspect of creating the basic structure of a boat.
Apprentices learn a variety of traditional ways to frame a boat. Whether carvel or lapstrake, steamed or sawn, full or half, framing is an important step in the construction of any boat.
One of the basic skills of boat building and a majority of time spent during a project. Beginning with the concept of spiling, then cutting and beveling the plank, and finally hanging the plank on the boat, apprentices learn to plank both lapstrake and carvel boats.
Apprentice crews that work on larger projects such as sailboats, lobster boats, day sailers, etc. have the opportunity to learn the intricacies of decking. Some customers prefer laid decks, while others choose traditional canvas, and apprentices on these projects learn to study these choices and techniques.
Once the decks are on, cabin construction can begin. Apprentices build cabins from the beams up, shape the sides and top, and install port lights. Depending on the design, the crew learns different techniques for constructing cabins.
Crews who work on decking and cabin construction finish their boats with interior joinery of varying degrees of difficulty. Apprentices interested in learning cabinetry and detailed woodworking enjoy testing their hand at this phase of building.
Every small boat that leaves the shop is delivered with a pair of oars or a set of paddles. We make all of these in house, and depending on the project, apprentices learn about oar and paddle designs from many different cultures.
Apprentices involved in sail boat projects lay out spars and try various spar making techniques.
While we are not a finish yard, every boat that leaves our shop does have a basic, or ‘workboat’, finish. Once all construction has been completed, apprentices move on to finishing, learning the basics of varnishing, painting, oiling, and otherwise protecting the hull they have created.
Once spars and sails are finished, the boats are rigged at the Shop. For some unusual projects we call in professional riggers to help us with the associated tricks and subtleties.
The larger projects that come through the Shop require diesel and other engine installation. They also call for drive, steering, or electrical systems. Apprentices who are on a large boat crew learn the basics of system installation.
Interested apprentices can try their hand at our wood lathes. Some boats that are launched have turned pieces and many chisel handles in the Shop are home made. We have turners associated with our community who are good resources for apprentices who want to focus on the art of turning.
We have found that the best forum for sail making is a dedicated loft. While we do not have our own loft, we do have connections to various sail lofts in our area, and apprentices have gone to volunteer and/or work for these local sail makers.
Other Related Trade Skills
We involve apprentices heavily in the business side of building. The responsibility for material acquisition, scheduling, accounting, and other business practices falls to the apprentice crews as they work on their individual projects. The best practical education in business management is also found in experiential education–with guidance instead of theoretical courses.