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6-Week Build A Boat Workshop


Spend six weeks experiencing the craft of boatbuilding, hands on by actually building a boat. Unlike our other shorter courses, this six-week course is intended to give you a taste of a broad range of skills while building a Joel White Shellback Dinghy

During the 30 days you spend with us at the Academy, through a host of practical activities, we will give you an opportunity to try your hand at techniques from bench joinery to pattern and mould making, from laminating and steam bending to traditional planking and fitting out and finishing. You will also be introduced to the techniques for making oars, masts, and spars and simple rope work. Finally, your group will make a sail, before launching and sailing the boat you have made in the waters at Lyme Regis, weather permitting of course.


Week 1: The Foundation

During this week you will learn about working with timber and the tools employed in doing so, particularly in relation to boat building. The majority of the week will be spent at the bench learning skills and working timber to produce some classic boat building joints, such as scarfs and geralds. You will also be learning about and using fastening methods from old school clinker rivets to modern adhesives, understanding their appropriate use and limitations

Week 2: An introduction to lofting and mould making and constructing centrelines

This week you will learn about the process of lofting and understand the key elements of producing full sized drawings for the fabrication of moulds, frames, and templates. From the lofting, you will then produce several templates for the component parts required to build the centreline and supporting structure of the course boat.

Week 3: Boat building, setting up the centrelines and frames

This week we will start to bring together some of the components we’ve been working on to begin forming our course boat, starting from the bottom, and working up. We’ll begin with the theory of transferring bevels from the lofting to items such as the transom, frames, and the stem. Once the theory is out of the way, you will then be able to apply those skills directly to the actual components.

Week 4: Planking

This week the plan is to get the course boat planked up. Having set up the centreline structure and frames last week, we now have our form onto which the planks will be fitted. There will be a theory session on the range of planking styles, both modern and traditional. The course boat has three planks per side, they are traditionally fastened overlapping planks and will all be shaped and fitted this week.

Week 5: Rigs, with sail making and spar making

The first three days of this week are set aside to sail making with our visiting sail maker, Mark Matthews. Mark will introduce you to the sail maker’s craft, and through a number of introductory exercises, you will learn a basic set of modern sail making skills, including hand and machine sewing. Of course, the sail is no use without the accompanying mast and spars, and once the sail making is complete, you will turn your hand to making these. You will learn the art of rounding timber by hand, using the blanks we glued up earlier in the course. We will also look to complete the daggerboard and the rudder.

Week 6: Final touches, painting and varnishing

This week is all about finishing touches and the final push to get the boat ready for our Friday launch. Practically there will be plenty of jobs to get finished, not least of all the oars and spars. We will have an overview of painting and finishing with traditional and modern coating systems, and in between jobs, we’ll apply those coatings to the boat parts, including the oars, and the spars

LAST DAY: You will launch the boat in the beautiful Lyme Regis harbour. If weather allows there might be the opportunity to go for a sail or a row,



Course dates

9th September - 18th October 2024

  Spaces available

Course fee

September Course £4950

How to book

Potential students are asked to visit the Academy and send a simple CV. This process allows you to get a feel for the life and work at the Academy and enables you to make an informed decision.

If you are unable to visit, we will conduct a telephone/zoom interview at a mutually agreed time.