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Boat Building

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—  Boat Building  —

Boat Building in Westport: A School - Community Partnership

2019 Program

Westport High School, in partnership with Dharma Voyage is offering Boat Building in Westport 2019 as a full-semester course beginning in late January. Last year, high school students successfully built a rowing dory, now used by both students and adult community rowers right here on the Westport River. This year, students and boat building instructor, Jon Aborn, constructed a modern version of a Pete Culler rowing bateau. We built two boats this year, each measuring 18' and designed for a single rower. Construction, using Okoume marine plywood, began by building the hull upside down on station molds. The hull was then strengthened by applying a layer of fiberglass cloth and two skim coats of epoxy. Liberty and W.S. Creamsicle were launched Saturday, June 1 at the Head of Westport Landing.

2018 Program

in 2018, Wetport High School students successfully built a 25' Chamberlain rowing dory, which was historically used for hunting and fishing. Dan Harrington, a WCS biology and environmental studies teacher, took the lead in the classroom. During the winter months, students began exploring topics such as whaling, history of boat building in Westport, knot tying, model building, river science, boat design, and fishing. Related literature, such as Moby Dick and  Boys in the Boat enriched our discussions.  Local experts from the community served as guest teachers throughout the course sharing their knowledge with the class. Guests included the Harbor Master, a tugboat captain, scientists, boat designers, historians and boat model makers.  Other field trips included a visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, RI.

In March, students began working in small groups at the boat shop at Titcomb Brothers Manufacturing on Forge Road. Dharma Voyage Executive Director Ben Booth and Jon Aborn, both accomplished boat builders, lead this part of the course. Students built a rowing dory from plans to a completed boat! Traditional wooden boat building methods were taught as well as the modern construction methods of applying epoxy resin for joining seams and adding fiberglass cloth for strength. It was an exciting process of turning a pile of unshaped plywood and lumber into a classic boat capable of being rowed from the river to the coast.

Click here to view more photos and to follow the 2018 program on its blog.

2017 Program

2016 Program