Re: Family boat building

Posted by CLC on Feb 25, 2007

I've run 7 or 8 of the Family Boatbuilding events and helped out with a dozen more, not including corporate teambuilding work. The largest was 60 boats at once! (1998 WoodenBoat Show in St. Michael's.)

I've always worked from kits, logically enough, mainly Eastport Prams and Peace Canoes. The Eastport Prams are a 3.5-day project, even with some "pre-assembly" of the components. But overall the size and design brief of the Eastport Pram and scope of its assembly process is ideal for family boatbuilding. Because it's an epoxy boat, it requires careful choreography on the part of the instructor at all times. The whole project is mapped out in 15-minute intervals. I know of 40-50 Eastport Prams done in Family Boatbuilding settings and they always went well. I did twelve at once on two occasions.

The Peace Canoe is different in that no epoxy is involved and assembly is much faster. I've observed 5-6 hour assembly times. Allowing two days gives you a much cleaner build quality, of course.

The name of the game is near-infinite pains with preparation and having more than you think you need in the way of supplies on hand. Running out of disposable gloves or squeegees is deadly when you're on a timeline.

For epoxy boats I never allow the boatbuilding teams to mix their own epoxy. Instead, a team of (closely monitored) volunteers mix the epoxy to the desired consistency and hand it out as needed. This nearly eliminates the possibilty of a bad mix ruining someone's boat and is much safer if kids are involved. (I've still had some real misadventures. For example, I have twice had someone pour a half gallon of hardener into the resin hopper in the $500 bulk dispenser. Big mess.)

The other vital piece of advice for the organizer and emcee is to not let the faster or more experienced team to get ahead or the slower bunch to fall behind. Everyone must move from step to step together or the event devolves into chaos. Require the quicker builders to stop and help the slower ones.

It's a lot of work but everyone leaves these things with a boat and a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

Peace Canoe

In Response to: Family boat building by Randy Powell on Feb 24, 2007


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