Record crop of students has boat school class at NWMC

Posted 1/20/15

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is intent on enhancing local collaboration while furthering its regional reputation.

For more than 35 years, the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding …

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Record crop of students has boat school class at NWMC

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The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is intent on enhancing local collaboration while furthering its regional reputation.

For more than 35 years, the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding has been a contributor to the Port Townsend Bay and Jefferson County experience, noted Betsy Davis, executive director. By drawing faculty, students and visitors to the school, and by graduating quality craftspeople, the boat school is integral to the region's culture and economy.

"The boat school brings around $2 million a year to the local economy" said Davis. "It is our intention that as an educational destination the school's collaborations, programs and contributions enhance the region."

In October 2014 the school welcomed a record 64 students to its Port Hadlock campus, from 19 states and five countries outside the U.S., and including 13 veterans and eight women. The school has grown to include contemporary boat building methods and become a fully accredited vocational training program.

The boat school began piloting a practicum in contemporary boat building recently in the Wooden Boat Foundation Boatshop at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

"We are delighted that boat school students have the opportunity for hands-on learning in this unique location in such close proximity to the maritime trades," said Davis. "In turn we hope that the Northwest Maritime Center's many visitors will learn as they watch craftspeople at work, and will become aware of the vibrant educational programs we offer at our campus in Port Hadlock."

"We're really excited about this," said Jake Beattie, NWMC executive director. "The Maritime Center was created to be a resource for the maritime community here, and we're thrilled that our boatshop will play a key role for one of the cornerstones."

The boat school is also growing its collaboration with the Jefferson County Library, located within a mile of its campus, to expand student access to the rich resources available through the CLAN (cooperative libraries automated network) system. This includes the extensive maritime collections at the Port Townsend Public Library and the H.W. McCurdy Library at the Northwest Maritime Center. In addition, the school is working closely with Edensaw Woods to help find and contact former students in order to build its new Alumni Association. The school hosts the Community Boatbuilding Project at its Port Hadlock campus, which inspired two recent graduates of Chimacum High School to enroll as students in this year's class.

During the contemporary boat practicum, instructor Bruce Blatchley leads students in building a variety of boats using contemporary methods, including a Drascombe Longboat, a type of open voyaging sailboat trademarked by John Watkinson which he designed and built in the period 1965-79 and sold in the United Kingdom (UK). They have wide and deep cockpits, adaptable boomless rigs and high bulwarks.

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding has been formally licensed by the Watkinson family to build the Drascombe Longboat, and this first vessel is to be used by the National Outdoor Leadership School in Mexico (NOLS Mexico) for coastal voyaging in Mexico. Students are also to build a Handy Billy 21' motor launch, a glued lapstrake Shellback Dinghy and a cold-molded version of a classic Grandy dinghy. Visitors are invited to view the work in progress from the mezzanine.

Beginning in February the school hosts a tour and open house the first Friday of every month at 3:30 p.m. at its Port Hadlock Heritage Campus.

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), which is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. The school's mission is to teach and preserve traditional and contemporary wooden boatbuilding skills while developing the individual as a craftsman.

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