July 2017 WoodenBoat School: Building the McKenzie


For the last six years I have been going to WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine to learn all sorts of techniques for my obsessive boatbuilding habit. 


In 2016 I completed my slippery slide down the slope from student to assistant to teacher, and taught a course in building the classic McKenzie River drift boat--or dory. Well, actually, a month before the course Rich, the Director, called and said we'd overbooked and I had to build two boats. In six days. We did.

If you've never been to WoodenBoat School, you've missed a lot. It is situated on an arm of the delta of the Penobscot River near the tiny town of Brooklin (where Major Powell died in 1902). The school is on an old estate, is surrounded by beautiful grounds and a boathouse--with a fleet of amazing classic rowboats and sailboats that we get to play with after-hours. 




Food there is incredible. But the staff and faculty are really what makes the place--friendly, helpful, inclusive, and incredibly knowledgable. I could go on and on, and probably will come back and add more. I am totally addicted to the place.

I digress. In 2017 I'll be back at it, July 2–8. We'll be creating, depending upon sign-ups, one or two lovely boats. We'll be building Woodie Hindman's classic design with cedar framing and plywood skin. It is the same process you would use to build a Grand Canyon dory, so if you're thinking of building either one--or something similar--but are intimidated by the process, this is the course for you. We will begin on day one by lofting the boat from lines in Roger Fletcher's Drift Boats and River Dories.


We may be working long hours a few days (nights!) but the boat(s) come together pretty quickly.


By day six she should be floating. In between you'll have been a part of every step of building one of these. For a more detailed account, check this post: Maine Lining.


On Saturday we will throw names in a hat of anyone who wants the boat(s). The lucky winner(s) will get to buy a boat for the cost of materials and take it home.  Here is what Jonathan did after he took his home:





Registration opens January 2 at 8a.m. Get your auto-dial ready. Here is the course description: Building the McKenzie River Dory. And here is the home page:WoodenBoat School.




Helpful hint: For many of us it is a long way to go for a one-week course. It's way more fun to do a couple in a row. I did three one year. What a blast. Some folks stay all summer. Warning: it is seriously addictive.

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