40 week Boat Building, Maintenance and Support course

40 week boat building, maintenance and support course

The 40 week Boat Building, Maintenance and Support course, incorporating City & Guilds 2463 Level 3 Diploma in Marine Construction, Systems Engineering and Maintenance (the technical certificate of an apprenticeship) is our flagship course.  It gives students the skills to find jobs in the marine industry or establish themselves as boat builders in their own right, although some students join the course for a sabbatical or on retirement and have no plans to work in the marine industry.

There is no upper age limit and the course caters to those changing careers (at whatever age) as well as the school leaver.  You do not need woodworking skills in order to apply (everyone starts from the same point – the beginning) but a mature attitude, motivation, a high level of commitment and willingness to pursue the highest standards are vital.

The syllabus goes way beyond the requirements of the City & Guilds qualification, giving comprehensive practical instruction covering traditional and modern wood construction methods and composites, as well as allied skills (e.g. wooden boat restoration and oar making).

At the beginning of each course, there is a group discussion between students, instructors, the Training Manager, and the Director about what boats will be built by the group.  The builds will cover a range of construction methods and be up to a maximum of 16 feet in length (although exceptions are made, depending on workshop space and other boats being built). Some students may prefer to concentrate on one build, but all students are required to work on the whole range of craft in order to get as much practical experience of different boat building techniques as possible.

The combination of the City & Guilds qualification and building a range of boats chosen for their educational value is unique to the Academy.  If you are considering joining the course you should be aware that the training is intensive and demanding, requiring a high level of commitment.  Due to the small size of our school and high instructor to student ratio, we take only eighteen students on each ‘long’ course. Each course is allocated two instructors who spend a minimum of forty hours a week with their group.

Course dates

There are two start dates per year and we allocate places to students on a first-come-first-served basis on receipt of a completed application form. Dates for the next courses are:

14 March 2022 – 16 December 2022

22 August 2022 – 09 June 2023

Course fee


Included in the fee are materials, including those for a plastic model boat, clinker section, laminated stem, bollow plane, joints and a 7ft oar that you make during the foundation phase of the course.  These are yours to take home. The only extras are for the materials of items you choose to take away with you; a toolbox, another oar, and (last but not least) a boat. We receive good discounts from our suppliers and discounts are given to you.

Bursary assisted places are available for this course, please click here for further information

Course Content

The ‘long’ course commences with a six-week joinery foundation course.  Once people have their joinery skills in place the syllabus covers the following skill areas:

  • Lofting
  • Traditional Boatbuilding
  • Modern Wooden Boatbuilding
  • Fibre Reinforced Plastic Boatbuilding and Fit Out
  • Yacht Joinery
  • Spar and Oar Making
  • Engine Beds and Stern Tubes
  • Finishing Coatings and Compounds
  • Rigging, Chandlery and Cordage
  • Sail Making and Repair
  • Marine Systems (Five days at Rob Perry Marine, a marine engineering company ten minutes from the Academy.  An RYA ‘Diesel Engine’ certificate and Rob Perry Marine certificate are awarded on the successful conclusion of the week).

Groups move from the upstairs workshop and become the ‘downstairs’ group in the main workshop after three months.  It is at this stage that they start building their group boats.


Find out more about who joins our courses by taking a look at our boat building students page. The paths students take after the course are as diverse as the students themselves – take a look at our Graduate Case Studies page for details on what a representative sample of our graduates are doing now.

Build your own boat

To browse the range of boats built here at the Academy see our Boats Archive. Follow the build of boats that are currently in the workshops on the Current Boats page.