Boat Building Courses

There’s a long tradition of craftsmanship in custom boat building in North Carolina. But, you don’t have to look further than Front Street in Beaufort to see where that tradition continues.

A jewel at the center of Beaufort’s maritime culture, the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center serves as an important economic force at the North Carolina Maritime Museum by showcasing the art and skill of traditional boat building. The museum’s Watercraft Center sits on Taylor’s Creek, across from the Museum. There’s no better place to learn boatbuilding than on the water.

The Harvey W. Watercraft Center carries on the rich boatbuilding heritage of North Carolina coast through wooden boat building courses. These courses bring together participants of all ages from different parts of the country with “a common thread of creativity.”

Introduction to Wooden Boat Building Course

In this two-day hands-on course, students will explore the art of boat building from start to finish. They begin with the design and lofting of boats, and move on to the setup, steam bending and different methods of creating the back bone of small boats. In addition, they will learn how to make planking systems, both carvel and lap strake and all the appropriate fastening systems. By the end of the course, students will have the knowledge and skill to choose a design and style of boat to build on their own and the confidence to take on the job. All course size limited. Advance registration required.

Course Fee: $135. Minimum age: 16 yrs. old.

2017 Course Dates: January 28 – 29, February 25-26, March 18-19, April 22-23, May 20-21, June 24-25, July 29-30, August 19-20, September 16-17, October 14-15, November 18-19, December 9-10

Register For Introduction to Wooden Boat Building Course

Build your own Stand-Up Paddle Board

Participants have the opportunity to build their own Stand-up Paddle Board constructed from cedar and Plywood. These boards will be custom fit to your size, and be a source of pride and enjoyment. These are fun to build and fun to paddle. Once the course is over, the builder will be responsible for varnishing or painting their new boards at home. This four-day course runs for four straight days. Students also have the option to take the course on two consecutive weekends). Course size limited. Advance registration required.

Course Fee: $1,000. Minimum age: 16 yrs. old.

2017 Course Dates: March 4 – 7 March 4 & 5 and March 11 & 12. April 10-13, or April 10 & 11 and April 17 & 18.

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Lift Half-Model Making Course

This course is recommended as the place to begin a woodworking, model making, or boatbuilding experience. Students are taught how to read a set of plans and use the basic woodworking tools most commonly found in a boat builder’s tool kit to shape a lift half-model of a North Carolina Shad Boat. The lift model is one of the easiest and most accurate of half-models to make. The course is organized in such a fashion that the models are completed in a step-by-step procedure ready to start applying a finish. (12 hours). Course size limited. Advance registration required.

Course Fee: $110. Minimum age: 16 yrs. old.

2017 Course Dates: April 8-9

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Boat-in-a-Day Course

Each participating team assembles a prepared kit for a small flat-bottomed plywood boat suitable for paddling. The boat is 12 ft. long, 32’ wide, and weighs about 40 pounds. By the end of the class each boat will be completed to a watertight condition. Detail finishing and painting is the responsibility of team members and may not be undertaken in the Watercraft Center. Teams are limited to a maximum of 4 persons, at least one of whom must be an adult. (6 hours). Course size limited. Advance registration required.

Course Fee: $600. Minimum age: 8 yrs. old.

2017 Course Dates: June 3, July 15, and August 12

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Stitch and Glue Boat Building Course

Each participant in this five-to seven-day class will use the stitch and glue method to build a boat, preselected in consultation with the instructor from a range of styles. Suitable types include performance kayaks 11-14 feet long, 17-foot sea/ touring kayaks, 12 to 14-foot canoes, or a 12-foot pram or rowboat. Participants will assemble and complete their boats to the point when they are ready to take home to be painted and/or varnished. (60-72 hours). Course size limited. Advance registration required.

Course Fee: $750-$1,250, depending on the type of boat. Please call in advance at 252-728- 7317 to discuss the style of boat you would like to build and the cost.  Minimum age: 16 yrs. old.

2017 Course Dates: September 23 – October 1

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Paddle or Oar Making Course

Participants can choose to make a canoe paddle, stand-up paddleboard paddle, kayak paddle, or pair of oars in this two-day class. All paddles and oars will be made from spruce, cedar, western red cedar or ash depending on student’s requirements and type of paddle. By the end of the class, each participant will take home a paddle or pair of oars ready for paint or varnish. (12 hours). Course size limited. Advance registration required.

Course Fee: $275 or $325 for a pair of oars. Minimum age: 16 yrs. old.

2017 Course Dates: October 7 – 8

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Build Your Own Skin-on-Frame Boat

Participants will build their own Skin-on-Frame ultralight boat in the Inuit style. These versatile and time tested boats can be fashioned in a myriad of styles including the North Alaska Retrieval Kayak, Greenland Style Sea Kayak, Pram Dinghy and Canadian Canoe. After the frames have been pegged and lashed together from fir and steam bent white oak frames, the skin of 12-ounce Ballistic Nylon is sewn over the frame and coated with either varnish or paint to produce a light, tough and beautiful boat. This 4-day course runs for four straight days or two consecutive weekends. Advance registration required.

Course Fee: $1,500. Minimum age: 16 yrs. old.

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Tool Sharpening Course

Come to the Watercraft Center and learn how to sharpen your tools. In this one-day class, Instructor Bob Bailey will demonstrate sharpening hand saws, planes, chisels, spoke shaves, turning tools and any other woodworking tools that require a sharp edge. Course size limited.

Course Fee: $25. Minimum age: 16 yrs. old.

Register For Build Your Own Skin-on-Frame Boat Course