On Sunday evening we meet the pupils–eight gentlemen from around the country who all want to know more about how to build boats. Wade Smith, boatbuilder and boatbuilding teacher is running the show. I am his lovely assistant. Wade’s sweetie Heather is auditing. Let’s build some boats.
Not so fast. Before we build anything, we are going to draw it out with pencils. The fine and feared art of lofting occupies much of the first few days.
Finally a fun and tactile reward: stem-bending ribs into a hull and riveting them fast.
More fun: chiseling rabbets.
At lunch one day we have a great ceremony. The leaky old workboat Babson, after decades of faithful service on the WoodenBoat School waterfront, is replaced with the Babson II, which Greg, Mike, and others put together over the winter. After a moving speech, Rich backs her in.
And the Babson stands by to meet her replacement.
One afternoon we make a field trip to the Brooklin Boat Yard, the brain child of the late great boat designer Joel White, who was the son of author E.B. White. Joel’s son Steve runs the place now. Here’s the view from the fourth floor. Big place, and way high tech. But even though the lofting is all done by computer now, it’s done, as it should be, on the fourth floor, in the loft.
They have some seriously cool boats in for maintenance.
Wade is explaining about the finer uses of toilet bowl wax as a boatbuilding material.
After class, most afternoons find me in my favorite boat, a wee Maine dory called the Wild Rose, in which I race about the harbor using a single sculling oar.
Until the sun and sundogs set and it’s time to go gorge myself on Cathy’s ridiculously plentiful and delicious dinner.
But back to class. Here is Wade’s duck transporter–a simple way to move thirty pounds of awkward, pokey drafting ducks.
On to carvel construction. Wade getting out a strake.
On it goes.
And we jump into lapstrake planking.
Two weeks go by pretty quickly. We wrap it up over beers and books.
Then head down to the waterfront for the lobster and mussel roast for one last gut-splitting dinner.
Seriously, if you are interested enough in boatbuilding to read this blog, do yourself a huge favor and sign up for any of the great courses that are going on back here. The catalog comes out in December just in time to give yourself a Christmas present. Sure, it’s addictive, but hey, it’s a pretty nice addiction.
And by the way, we are putting together a one-week course next year wherein I will be teaching the fine art of building a McKenzie River dory. Come on Down East and join us.
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