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 the Level 3 Diploma in Boatbuilding (Advanced) (2473-03), by City & Guilds(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 at the same level). To join the course, we ask for enthusiasm and dedication to the training, as well as basic English and Maths skills (equivalent to Functional Skills Level 1).

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, tutors, 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 tutor-to-student ratio, we take only eighteen students on each ‘long’ course. Each course is allocated two tutors 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:

27 February – 08 December 2023

21 August 2023 – 09 June 2024

Course fee

£17,350 (Feb 2023)

£17,950 (August 2023)

Included in the fee are materials for all the foundation training elements, including those used when making your clinker section, toolbox, bollow plane, joints, an 8ft oar, and your City & Guilds assessment pieces, all of these are yours to take home. The only extras you might pay are for any non-training related personal pieces, an additional oar, and (last but not least) a boat should you decide to commission one. We receive good discounts from many of our suppliers and are therefore able to offer a range of materials to students at discounted prices.

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
  • 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 at 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.