WoodenBoat School celebrates 25th season - Soundings Online

WoodenBoat School celebrates 25th season

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This year marks the 25th season of the WoodenBoat School, internationally recognized for its wooden boatbuilding, woodworking, marine survey and seamanship programs.

This year marks the 25th season of the WoodenBoat School, internationally recognized for its wooden boatbuilding, woodworking, marine survey and seamanship programs.

“It’s been neat to watch the school, and its students, evolve over the years,” says school director Rich Hilsinger. “There was a dream to start a school where students could work alongside professionals and learn the trade, so the trade wouldn’t die out. That dream has come true.”

To mark the anniversary, the school hosted a reunion for alumni and faculty in July. The event included a number of boat races as well as on-shore entertainment.

Located on a 60-acre campus on the shores of Eggemoggin Reach, in Brooklin, Maine, the WoodenBoat School was founded in 1981 as an extension of WoodenBoat magazine. The school is in session from mid-May to September and offers a wide variety of one- and two-week courses including Fundamentals of Boatbuilding, Elements of Seamanship and Traditional Wood-and-Canvas Canoe Construction. An extensive off-site program is offered in the spring and fall at maritime museums across the country. Students learn from faculty and staff composed of marine professionals from all over North America.

“It’s good to see so many people take interest in wooden boatbuilding and get involved,” Hilsinger says. “Today, with everything being done for us, there are fewer and fewer things to do with our hands. People will always need to know how to work with their hands and do things on their own. Learning how to build a boat, I think, is the perfect way to keep these traditions alive.”

Hilsinger, who is 54, has been with the school since he started as a student in 1983. After sailing for three years aboard the 310-foot square rigger Sea Cloud as carpenter and working on a number of other boats, Hilsinger decided to attend the WoodenBoat School to further his knowledge of boatbuilding and woodworking. Soon after he graduated, Hilsinger was hired as manager of the school’s shop, a job he held for seven years. In 1990, he took over as school director.

Hilsinger says he takes particular pride in walking by the school’s wall of photographs of students with the boats they’ve built over the years. “Seeing people leave with confidence in the skills they’ve gained here and knowing they’re putting those skills to good use is a big reward,” he says. “I’m glad to be a part of a program that people find so rewarding. I’m glad the school is doing so well after so many years.”

For information about the WoodenBoat School, visit www.thewoodenboatschool.com , or call (207) 359-4651.