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Boat Building School


Last updated 4/6/2012


The introduction of a wooden boat building and maintenance program has been a subject of much discussion and planning at the Maritime Museum since the museum was re founded in 2007.  All of this preparation work is, at last, coming to fruition.  We have researched numerous other museum and professional wooden boat building programs since 2007.  A highlight of our research was sending a three person team to the Wooden Boat School in Brooklyn Maine this summer to participate in building a Bank Dory (see related article) and in that process to document techniques, methods and resources employed.  From this ongoing research, we have, over the years assembled the key elements to launch this educational program expansion as follows


·       Overall Vision and Leadership – The vision for this program has been developed by collaboration of the AMM Board of Directors and Staff to achieve a long term sustainable program that draws local residents and visitors into the rebirth of traditional maritime skills in Franklin county which will lead into new opportunity for jobs and recreation.  The goal is to see the program grow over the years to cover the spectrum of wooden boat building from these smaller initial vessels into much larger craft such as commercial fishing boats and paddlewheel craft reminiscent of the 1800s.  We also see the emerging opportunity coming from very high end yacht building and renovation work that can be done in Apalachicola as we build a program that offers skills and talent like no other port on the Gulf Coast.

·       Funding program for student participation –The George K Floyd Foundation has provided multiple grants to the Maritime Museum and to a local church group to pay for materials and classes for youth group involvement.  We expect another grant for 2012 that will allow for program expansion.

·       Development of the boat building shop at the AMM – This shop was completed this year and incorporates a dust collection system, safety power disconnects, compressor and lines for air tools and a viewing area behind glass for visitors to watch work underway without being in the shop.  We are expanding the area behind the gift shop for outdoor construction.

·       Procure state of the art equipment as required for precision craftsmanship – Over $30,000 in multi function power tools are now in place and operational at the AMM workshop covering the spectrum of boatbuilding needs.

·       Developed a curriculum for parallel boat building programs to support long term and short term projects and involvement.  The course offerings include long term volunteer programs and shorter term programs to allow participants to build their own boats.

·       Faculty and Staff – Greg LaSchum is the lead AMM Boatbuilder.  Evidence of Greg’s talent and capabilities is the Catspaw Dinghy on display at the museum  which was built by Greg.  The craftsmanship in that magnificent vessel is evident.  Aiding Greg will be another visiting instructor and very talented staff shipwright, Brian Kennedy.  Together with other museum staff we will not only build magnicent boats but also instill a sense of heritage, pride and the values of detail and precision that are valuable life skills.  We will be bringing in guest boat builders from Mystic Seaport and other legendary operations to further infuse program knowledge and diversity.

·       Class schedules that are designed to meet the availability of students and participants.

The curriculum approach of running both long term and short term projects in parallel that will provide opportunities for all ranges of experience and involvement.   Visitors and participants will be able to see work in progress and learn of the traditional skills once common in Apalachicola before the age of fiberglass and the internal combustion engine. 

In the long term program we will construct a second Catspaw Dinghy with the objective of building a small fleet of such traditional sailing and rowing craft that will provide an opportunity for learning to sail vessels that would been commonly found in Apalachicola in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  This will support sail training and small regattas along the Apalachicola river front and Bay.  We expect this long term program to be a two to three thousand hour program involving both our AMM boatbuilding instructors and volunteers. All materials will be prepared from raw stock and will go through the process from lofting to launch.  The plans for the Catspaw Dinghy were developed by Nat Herreschoff and Joel White in the 1930’s.  A couple of anecdotes worthy of note.  The first Catspaw Dinghy of the maritime museum made the passage from Cape Cod Massachusetts tethered to the AMM flagship vessel Heritage (fka Quark) as we brought her down the east coast, through the Bahamas and Florida Keys on her way to Apalachicola in 2007.  That first dinghy was taken by a rogue wave on the final run from Key West to Apalachicola in October 2007.  The second is that the sons of these two legendary boat designers and builders, designed and built our flagship vessel Heritage.  Nat’s son, L. Francis Herreschoff, drew the plans for and constructed the first Mobjack in the 1930s.  Joel’s son Steve White, built Quark in 2002 in Brooklyn Maine as the 63rd vessel built to the Mobjack plans.  Somewhere out in the briny depths of the Gulf of Mexico, old man Neptune has our original Catspaw Dinghy proudly displayed in his collection.  Click on Photos and Plans for more background on this long term boatbuilding project.  Volunteer participants will be provided with the books and plans relating to the construction project and can come join in at any point along the way. 


In the short term program we will be constructing a variety of vessels from plans and materials obtained from Chesapeake Light Craft (http://www.clcboats.com/).  In the short term program we expect the construction time to be more in the one to two hundred hour range whereby students and paying participants can see a project from start to finish within one to four weeks.  The short term building programs is modeled after successful programs we have observed at the Wooden Boat School in Maine and in numerous other programs sponsored by such noteworthy programs at Mystic Seaport, the North Carolina Maritime Museum, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and others whereby small groups of two to six come together to fund and build the boat with the group sponsor taking possession of the craft at the end.  Participants will pay a fee to cover the cost of the plans, materials, instructor staff, etc.  As the program matures and local knowledge and skills resources grow, we hope to begin designing our own craft that can be built to support both commercial and recreational seafood harvest, touring and enjoyment in Apalachicola Bay.  To get this program launched we have purchased the materials for the following four craft that arrived in late October.  We will be constructing these initial vessels with youth programs in the Franklin county area to building enthusiasm among the coming generation about the traditional wooden boater building program and fine our curriculum and process.  Students will not be operating any dangerous power tools or shop equipment during the construction process for these boats.  These initial four boats will be kept at the museum for use by museum members and to demonstrate the look, feel and quality of construction.


·       Gunter Sloop Rigged Passagemaker - A handy boat that can be rowed, sailed, and powered with up to three large adults, and it "nests" to take up less space. The Passagemaker Dinghy is easy to build but looks great and performs beautifully. A smooth glide when rowing, spirited performance when sailing, and steady handling with an outboard.  This is the perfect dinghy for folks with larger boats. For those tired of moving heavy, traditional dinghies that weigh 200 pounds, or struggling with a limp, awkward inflatable that can't be rowed or sailed? Designer John C. Harris has drawn an elegant, Norwegian-styled pram that weighs only 90lbs, but can survive real abuse in the dinghy park. With a 650-pound payload, the Passagemaker can haul the entire crew in one go, or ferry blocks of ice and jerrycans of drinking water from the quayside to the mothership. The sailing rig components store flat inside the 11'7" hull; fasten three shrouds and the mainsheet, hoist up the mainsail and jib, and you've got a fast, fun, stable sailing dinghy that will please even the most ardent and discriminating sailing enthusiast. If you have a long harbor to cross, a 2, 3, or 4 horsepower outboard will drive the Passagemaker to harbor speed limits and beyond. An electric outboard for fishing lakes will work great, too. If you don't want to lug around an outboard and smelly gas, you'll be delighted to discover how well the Passagemaker rows: there's plenty of rocker for low wetted surface and the transom won't drag in the water to slow you down.  Check out the photos below or the gallery.  Enroll now at the RiverEcoLogic web store.  The plans for construction of this vessel are at Passagemaker Plans.

Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/passagemaker/PMSAIL_on_water_12.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/passagemaker/Harry_N.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/passagemaker/D_S_1.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/passagemaker/PM_IMG_3146.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/passagemaker/PMD_LUG_JoshKarenEdwards3.JPG&w=110&h=50


·       Kayak, Wood Duck 14’ - More than 6,300 Chesapeake-series kits have been shipped over the last 10 years. An enduring favorite among paddlers, the Chesapeakes are the gold standard for build-it-yourself sea kayaks. They are easy to build but handsome and fast. High-volume bows lift you over rough seas - or powerboat wakes - while the skeg-like stern prevents weather-cocking in blustery winds. CLC's signature cambered decks shed spray, increase the storage space inside the hull, add strength without weight, and look great. Chesapeake kayak builders explore quiet local rivers and paddle the length of the Sea of Cortez. Chesapeakes are built in garages, apartments, living rooms, television studios, and in at least 50 countries from Iceland to Australia.  Large storage compartments will absorb enough gear and water for long, unsupported expeditions. Cockpits are large and easy to pad out for a custom fit. The big, comfortable cockpit is an ideal spot to spend a lazy afternoon if multi-week expeditions aren't your speed.  Chesapeakes are built to endure a lifetime of strenuous touring with 4mm-okoume plywood hulls and decks, both sheathed with fiberglass. Watertight bulkheads are standard, as are hatches, deck rigging, adjustable footbraces, and a comfortable seat. One reason so many builders prefer the Chesapeakes is their flexible architecture, unique among kit boats. Experienced builders may customize every part of the boat above the waterline, whether building from a kit or plans.  Individual kayak fit is very important, so there are six singles, two doubles, and a triple to choose from. The 16LT and 17LT are standard Chesapeake 16 & 17 hulls with lower decks and sides, reducing total volume by 20% for a sleeker, more compact kayak. Small sea kayaks are often just cute versions of larger, more serious boats. The Chesapeake 14™ is a serious kayak in its own right, designed specifically for kids and small-statured adults who don't want to be left behind by the big boats. Hundreds of builders have registered delight at the Chesapeake 14's combination of speed, stability, and tracking.  Check out the photos below or the gallery. The plans for construction of this vessel are at Kayak Plans.

Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/chesapeake/CH14_Ofest.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/chesapeake/CH14_beached_2.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/chesapeake/CH14_on_water_5_boy.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/chesapeake/CH14_on_water_2.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/chesapeake/Kayak-144.jpg&w=110&h=50


·       Rowing Shell, Annapolis Wherry - The Annapolis Wherry offers thoroughbred performance on the water combined with breathtaking grace. The Annapolis Wherry has been turning heads since 1997, with hundreds and hundreds built all over the world.  Solid stability, sea kindly lines, excellent tracking, a buoyant bow, and ample flare make the Wherry a natural choice for rowing in choppy conditions. The open design allows for plenty of sprawling and a picnic basket when beach cruising.  Stability is strong for a performance rowing boat: you can step into the boat from a dock and even stand up. However, the narrow waterline means that the Annapolis Wherry is as fast as many “rec” shells, sprinting at 7 knots and cruising at 4-5 knots. At this speed you could cover 30 or 40 miles in a day. We hear of Wherries being used for camping and fishing expeditions.  The Annapolis Wherry is at its best with a sliding seat. From the beginning the interior was designed around a Piantedosi Row Wing, the nicest sliding seat unit on the market. Used with a sliding seat, the Wherry might be unsurpassed as a rowing trainer, exercise boat, long-distance cruiser, or even for open water racing. Check out the photos below or the gallery. The plans for construction of this vessel are at Wherry Plans.

Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/annapoliswherry/AW_on_water_6.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/annapoliswherry/John_K_2.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/annapoliswherry/Gozdowski.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/annapoliswherry/WHERRY_Dana_Point_Demo_1.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/ontheroad/stmichaels2001/STMICHAELS2001_7.jpg&w=110&h=50


·       Stand-Up Paddleboard, Kaholo 14’ - Why are Stand-Up Paddleboards all the rage?  Because they're ridiculously fun--like walking on water.  Working with surfing and paddleboard guru Larry Froley of Gray Whale Trading in California, these boards are created with that rare quality of being fast enough to race but stable enough for first-timers.  Tracking is great and a fine bow with kayak-derived shaping lifts the Kaholo 14 up and over waves.  The tail shape and twin fins facilitate surfing on long swells once your skills build up to that.  With their uncanny speed, the Kaholo has found a following among racers.  The 14 design is good for larger paddlers (or those who might carry along dogs or small kids).  There are no other SUP boards in the world that are easier for a first-time boatbuilder, or better-looking.   The Kaholo 14 measures 14'0" long, 29" wide, 4-5/8" thick, and comes in around 32 pounds.  The construction materials include premium nonskid deck pads, cut to shape, breather tubes, and custom laminated skegs.  The construction process allows ways to customize the board with fabrics and other stylish tweaks, as seen in the photo gallery.   Designer John C. Harris counted himself among the skeptics before trying out his first SUP in California in 2006.  "It's the most amazing sensation---as close to walking on water as you're going to get.  But a little faster.  You achieve kayak-like speeds, but your visibility is vastly improved because your eyes are so much higher off the water.  You can see more, see further, and in clear water you have a much better view of sea life than you do in a kayak."  It's also a major workout---every muscle in your body is at work as you ride over waves and work the long-handled SUP paddle.  If taking a walk is healthy, taking a walk on water is healthy AND the view is better.  Harris says he can envision shifting one of his hobbies---wandering marinas on foot looking at boats---to a Kaholo.  Nature lover?  Paddle quietly through the shallows.  The Kaholos are okoume marine plywood, stitched-and-glued together and sheathed in fiberglass and epoxy, with a grid of bulkheads and stiffeners inside to make the boards stiff and light.  Check out the photos below or the gallery.  The plans for construction of this vessel are at Paddleboard Plans.

Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/kaholo/alan-nitzberg-kaholo-sup-4.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/kaholo/suprace5.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/kaholo/suprace4.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/kaholo/suprace2.jpg&w=110&h=50 Description: http://www.clcboats.com/scripts/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=/images/photos/boats/kaholo/suprace1.jpg&w=110&h=50


·       Pygmy Kayak, All Models -The plans for construction of this vessel are at Pygmy Class Manual.


We are have recently completed our first wooden boat project, the Wherry Rowing Shell for display at our booth in the Apalachicola Antique and Classic Boat Show this year to provide everyone a chance to look at the quality of these boats in person.  The construction book and plans will be provided as part of the curriculum.  AMM instructors will guide and facilitate construction to ensure a high quality result is achieved.  



All participants must sign the Boat Building Program Participant Waiver in order to partake in the boat building program.  Please contact administration at the Maritime Museum if you have any questions about the nature of the activities in the program.  If you have unanswered questions or concerns about the risks involved in the program you should not participate.


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