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 boat building than on the water.

The Harvey W. Watercraft Center carries on the rich boat building heritage of the 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. Course size is limited, and advance registration is required.

Course Fee: $170. Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum receive a 10% discount. Minimum age: 16 yrs. old.

Call 252-504-7758 to register.

Course Dates:Jan. 30–31, Feb. 27–28, Mar. 20–21, May 22–23, June 26–27, Jul 10–11 & 17-18, Aug 7-8 & 28-29, Sept. 11–12, Oct. 9–10, Nov. 6–7, Dec. 11–12. Classes are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

Build a Boat-in-a-Day

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 Fee: $600. Friends of the NC Maritime Museum: $540. Minimum age: 8 yrs. old. Course size limited. Advance registration required.

Call 252-504-7758 to register.

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

Course Dates: May 29, June 9 & 19, July 7 & 21, Aug. 4, 14, & 21. The class is held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Lift Half-Model Making Course

Students learn how to read a set of plans and use the basic woodworking tools most commonly found in a boatbuilder’s tool kit to shape a lift half-model of a North Carolina Shad Boat. The models are built following a step-by-step procedure and are then taken home to apply a finish.

Call 252-504-7758 to register.

Course Fee: $110 (FOM: $99).

Course Dates: Feb. 6-7, March 6-7, April 10-11. The class is held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.


The following Watercraft Center courses, along with the preceding ones, can be booked to fit your schedule. If you are interested in scheduling a course, call 252-504-7756.

Build Your Own Stand-Up Paddle Board Course

Participants build their own stand-up paddle board custom-fit to their size from cedar and plywood. Builders will be responsible for varnishing or painting their new boards at home after finishing the course. (24 hours).

Fee: $1,000. FoM: $900.

Build a Stitch & Glue Kayak/Canoe

Each participant in this 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 complete their boats to the point when they are ready to take home to be painted and/or varnished. (60-72 hours).

Fee: $750–$1,250. FoM: $675–$1,125.

Paddle/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. Each participant will take home a paddle or pair of oars ready for paint or varnish. (12 hours).

Fee: Varies, based on cost of materials. FoM: will receive a 10-percent