Building Boats As Part of the 38 Week Course
Building boats as part of the 38 week course is integral to our training philosophy. Students learn by hands-on, ‘start to finish’ experience of the boat building process. Boats built are selected for their educational value and their contribution to the required skill set for each student. Students learn to project manage each build and work to deadlines, but do not work on commercial projects. We believe it is vital that what students learn is not dictated by the requirements of a ‘job’. Students work on ‘small’ boats to avoid the repetitive work needed on larger boats. Jack Chippendale MBE (1924-2012), doyen of British boat building, said of the Boat Building Academy’s ‘small boat’ training:
‘I have built some 4000 small boats and trained around seventy apprentices on small boat construction. Many of those apprentices now work for, manage or indeed own companies building and servicing large sea-going craft. By contrast, I was never able to integrate into the system those who came to small craft from the big boat sector.‟
The value of building a selected range of construction types is immense. Students experience the building process from obtaining plans to lofting, to ordering wood, to setting up moulds, to building the boat, to fit-out, to painting and finishing and the final launch in Lyme Regis harbour, project managing the builds at every stage.
We usually build about half as many boats as there are students on the course. Which boats are built or restored by a group is decided during the first three weeks of the course through discussion between students, Instructors and the Principal. The boats must satisfy the Academy’s overall training criteria in that:
- They are built in a range of construction types
- Are no longer than 16 foot (although any visitor to the workshop will soon see we make exceptions)
- It is possible for the group to finish all builds by the end of the course (although again we will make exceptions depending on what the student’s objective is in building the boat and what other boats are being built by the course)
Restoration projects can also be undertaken as part of the course.
When potential students attend for interview we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of building an ‘own’ boat, offering advice on which we feel is more appropriate in terms of your aims and objectives of the course. We do not guarantee that everyone who wants to can build their own boat.
At the end of each course, December for the March course and June for September groups, the boats are walked in procession down to the sea and launched (with ceremony) into Lyme Regis harbour.
Friends, relatives, students, staff and the town gather to celebrate the end of the course and cheer each boat as it goes into the water. The boats are a testament to the skills the students have gained, their launch representing the beginning of each student’s new life as a boat builder. After the launch there is a ceremony in the main workshop where students are presented with their certificates. We are delighted if family and friends are able to attend.