New boatbuilding school to open soon

CEDARVILLE, Mich. – A new wooden boat building school, the Great Lakes School of Wooden Boatbuilding, will open its doors with summer courses in July before taking on its first full class this September, the Soo Evening News reported in a story earlier this week.

The school is located in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula and was privately financed from investments gathered in the greater Les Cheneaux area. It is designed to resemble other wooden boat schools set up around the country, although one unique feature of this institution is that it will have its own “purpose-built” building, a 9,000 square-foot structure that will house two classrooms, a library, milling room, sail loft, lumber storage space, a viewing gallery and a building shop, the newspaper reported.

Head boatbuilder and program director Pat Mahon, whose last stop was at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building at Port Townsend, Wash., put together the curriculum.

Incoming students will literally start at the beginning – the “this is wood and that is a block plane” level of the trade, Mahon told the newspaper. After nine months of combined classroom study and shop work, students will emerge from the wood chips and sawdust with a working knowledge of wooden boat design, building methods and materials.

Post-graduate study opportunities include shorter courses in boatbuilding joinery, marine engines, marine electronics, on-board plumbing and other mechanical-electrical systems.

The school’s executive director Dave Lesh said the objective of the school is to equip students for eventual work in a growing job market for trained craftsmen and women with high-end yacht builders.

No public funds were involved in the school’s start-up financing.

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