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Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: Preserving the Environment Though Traditional Maritime Craftsmanship

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite like sailing or rowing in a handcrafted wooden boat. The sound and feel of a natural wood hull on the water is experiencing nature at its very best.
Building wooden boats is a traditional skill that serves as a reminder of the value of being one with nature. Step into any of the workshops at the Northwest School of Wooden BoatBuilding and you are at once struck with the sense of natural materials. The smell of sawdust is magical when you understand that it is part of a historical maritime craft that is thousands of years old: the construction of wooden boats and ships.

The boat school, located in Port Hadlock, Washington, uses the best wood materials available, and only what is needed to build the boat. Traditional hand tools are used in much of the precise construction. These boats, properly maintained, will last not only a year or decade, but for many generations.

History: Green before Green was Cool

The boat school is proud of its origin. Their Website explains, “Motivated by the concern that traditional wooden boat building techniques unique to the Pacific Northwest could become a lost art, Libby Palmer and Henry Yeaton persuaded renowned Puget Sound master shipwright Bob Prothero to establish the wooden boat school. In 1981 Mr. Prothero formed this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which consequentially has earned an international reputation as a leading wooden boat school.”

Teaching the Trade

For thirty years, the Northwest School of Wooden BoatBuilding (NWSWB) has stayed true to its mission, “to teach and preserve the skills and crafts associated with fine wooden boat building and other traditional maritime arts with emphasis on the development of the individual as a craftsperson.”

NWSWB is the only school in the world that specifically teaches the historic boat building techniques attributed to Puget Sound naval designers, master boat builders and shipwrights of the past century. Over fifty students from around the world enroll each year in accredited associate degree and diploma programs. Summer workshops consistently draw students from all over the United States and Canada. The School also provides traditional maritime education outreach programs through facility tours, presentations and collaboration with regional maritime and education alliances.
The successful operation of the school is based on a close partnership among faculty, staff and board of trustees. Faculty members are master boat builders, each with decades of experience in boat building and fine woodworking. Other instructors lend their maritime skills at the boat school’s community and summer workshops.

Visit the School

The boat school is located at 42 N. Water Street, Port Hadlock, WA 98339. Tours are open to the public 10:30 a.m., Mondays and Fridays. Individual tours are available by appointment.
To learn more about the Northwest School of Wooden BoatBuilding, go to their website. For more information simply just click here.


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