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Festival countdown – Three weeks to go!

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New Year’s Update

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Alumni Meet Up: San Diego Wooden Boat Festival

Raise a glass us and join us at the 27th Annual San Diego Wooden Boat Festival on June 17th! Meet up with fellow alums and friends of the Boat School for a beer of glass or wine. A great time to find out what is happening at the school, talk shop, boats and reconnect with classmates. Family welcome.

Hosted by: Steven Opsal, Class of 2016 & Richard Johanson, Class of 2015, NWSWB Admissions & Student Services Manager

Where? Southwestern Yacht Club, 2702 Qualtrough St. San Diego, CA 92106
When? June 17, 2017 5:15-7:15 PM
Questions? Contact Steven Opsal at (858) 254-8823 or [email protected]

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WoodenBoat Magazine Highlights Prothero Method

Check out the article written by Chief Instructor Sean Koomen and Instructor Emeritus Jeff Hammond on the Prothero Method in the March/April 2016 WoodenBoat Magazine.



Boatbuilder Bob Prothero, founder of Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, championed an efficient method of boatbuilding that relied on extreme accuracy in the lofting. One element of this method—and a signature method in West Coast boatbuilding—is the bending of frames to the outsides, rather than the insides, of the ribbands, as on this 36′ Carl Chamberlain-designed motorsailer…. ~Sean Koomen, “Efficiency, Accuracy, and Integrity: The elements of the Prothero method,” WoodenBoat No. 249 March/April 2016

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Congratulations Class of 2015!


A big CONGRATULATIONS to the forty-seven students who walked through graduation on September 16th, 2015. It took a great deal of hard work to reach this goal and they’ve accomplished it! Never stop learning, exploring, growing and challenging yourself grads. Best wishes as they start a new chapter and become the newest members of our growing alumni association. View photos of graduation HERE
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Alum Happy Hour: Celebrating Jeff Hammond


The Boat School kicked off the 2015 Wooden Boat Festival with it’s first annual Alum Happy Hour. This year we celebrated Jeff Hammond’s 30 years of dedication as a teacher and mentor at the Boat School. Current students, alumni, staff, and Boat School friends enjoyed a fun night of beer and peanuts while making new friends, catching up, and sharing their memories of Jeff’s finest moments. To watch the toast of Jeff and view photos of the night, click HERE
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2015 Diploma Students Graduate from Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is proud to announce that seven of its students completed their 9-month diploma boatbuilding programs and graduated on June 19. They are Jacob Eastlick, Thomas Gerald and Matthew Ryan (Contemporary Wood Composite Boatbuilding), Joanna Abeli, William Holt, Kelson Mills (Traditional Large Craft) and Joseph Caldwell (Traditional Small Craft). These students completed an intensive training experience which required them to attend school 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday for three quarters. The boatbuilding skills they learned will help launch them into a variety of maritime and woodworking trades, including boatbuilding and repair, yacht interior construction, and fine woodworking.

Executive Director Betsy Davis stated, “We wish our graduates all the best as they launch into their new and exciting careers. They have passed a rigorous hands-on program at the Boat School and we are exceedingly proud of their accomplishments.”

The remaining 46 students at the School will continue for summer quarter and graduate with their associate degrees in mid-September.

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is one of the premier accredited educational institutions of its kind and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). The ACCSC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. The school’s mission is to teach and preserve traditional and contemporary wooden boatbuilding skills while developing the individual as a craftsman.

For information please contact:  Betsy Davis, Executive Director, 206-390-0381  [email protected].

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Kent Davis (Class of 1995) instructor at Oregon State University!

kent davis hands
kent davisKENT DAVIS (Class of 1995) has distinguished himself in the wood products manufacturing, research, and woodworking professions since graduating from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. Below is his biography from Oregon State University’s College of Forestry- Wood Science & Engineering program where Kent is a faculty member.

Kent also has his own woodworking business, which you can learn more about here:

We are so proud of your accomplishments, Kent, and thanks for staying in touch!

OSU Kent Davis Webpage

“Kent has been both professionally or personally working in the wood products industry for over 25 years. While working on degrees in Botany and employed at OSU for the last 10 years, Kent has worked in cabinet shops, occasionally performing light carpentry and house remodeling jobs, built and designed custom furniture, and even completed the Northwest School of Wooden Build Building program. Once obtaining his Masters, he worked for the College of Forestry for 7 years as a Faculty Research Assistant maintaining carbon dioxide monitoring stations across Oregon. In 2012, Kent started with the Oregon Wood Innovation Center to help facilitate student experiential learning in the Renewable Materials program in the College of Forestry. Kent expanded his role to include teaching a series of wood machining classes that includes basic manufacturing processes, CAD/CAM software and CNC router technologies, and basic business considerations found in the wood products industry.”

Additional Information

Teaching Philosophy:

“Kent’s courses are intended as hands-on learning opportunities backed by basic manufacturing principles. Kent believes students should develop skills and confidence with modern woodworking machines and processes that they are likely to encounter in the secondary wood products industry. Because class size is kept small, Kent is able to provide one-on-one guidance so that even the beginning user will become familiar with operation and maintenance of machines and safe working practices in industrial situations. Kent hopes that the skills learned by students will be used, either professionally to improve manufacturing or personally to satisfy the need to create.”

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Paul Stoffer (Class of 2013) hired on at Port Townsend Shipwright’s Co-op in Washington state

Paul StofferPaul Stoffer graduated with the Class of 2013 and was hired to work at the Port Townsend Shipwright’s Co-op. Paul graduated the Traditional Large Craft program and took Repair and Restoration in the summer. He was a steady student, quiet worker, and very focused on this training while at the School. We wish you all the best, Paul, for an exciting and fulfilling career in the marine trades!

“The talented crew of the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-Op is well-known for their traditional woodworking skills: from fine interior joinery on sail and motor yachts to major structural restoration on commercial fishing vessels. Their attention to detail and depth of knowledge insures your modern or classic boat will leave the shop in superior condition. PTSC also specializes in new construction, metal fabrication and fiberglass. Design and installation of Electrical -marine electronics and navigation systems, Mechanical – engines, propulsion, fuel and drive, Systems – heating, cooling, plumbing, steering, refrigeration and hydraulics, and Spars and Rigging.

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Liz Palmer (Class of 2011) participating in World Endeavors Summer Currach Building program in Ireland!

liz palmerElizabeth Palmer (Class of 2011) will be participating in the World Endeavors Summer Currach Building program in Ireland from June 29-July 17, 2015.

Liz graduated from the Traditional Large Craft program in 2011 with an Associate of Occupational Studies degree and emphasis on Repair & Restoration.

Congratulations, Liz, on this wonderful educational opportunity!

Click here for the related website.

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!

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Bradley Suedekum (Class of 2014) featured in video about the Center for Wooden Boats!

Check out this video about The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle. It features their Lead Boatwright Bradley Suedekum (Class of 2014)! Bradley was always interested in the history of wooden boats and he had a strong wish to work on boats that were of historical value. He stated at one point that his dream job would be working at the Center for Wooden Boats! We are so proud of your accomplishments, Bradley, and happy that your dream came true!

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!

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Alec Binder (Class of 2014) joins Ocean Pursuits of Rockland, Maine!

Alec Binder (Class of 2014) has joined Ocean Pursuits of Rockland, Maine working in boat repair and restoration! Alec graduated from the 12-month Traditional Large Craft program at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding where he earned his Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) degree with an emphasis on Boat Repair and Restoration. Alec was instrumental in the forward progress of the Hanson-designed Forest Service Scaler’s Boat during his time at NWSWB. He was a hard worker who exhibited the quiet focus of a seasoned boat builder. He had some boat repair experience in Alaska before he started at the school, which was a real asset for him. He was always so gracious with fellow students and staff – a real gentleman in every way.

OCEAN PURSUITS is a family-owned and -operated boatyard located on the Rockland waterfront. It was established in 1987 by Bill Cowan, a USCG-licensed sailing captain. He brings his twenty-plus years of nautical skills and technical experience home after sailing worldwide. He knows firsthand the importance of having a vessel properly constructed and maintained with working systems.

OCEAN PURSUITS is committed to giving you quality work at affordable prices. Our satisfied customers include boatbuilders, recreational boat-owners (both power and sail) and commercial fishermen.”

Best wishes, Alec. We are so proud of your accomplishments!

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!


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Korey Ruben (Class of 2014) joins Sprindrift Ocean Rowing in Port Townsend, WA

10354698565_208c7e137f_bKorey Ruben has joined Spindrift Ocean Rowing and is using his well practiced craftsmanship to build modern carbon composite boats! Korey graduated with an Associate of Occupational Studies degree from the Traditional Large Craft program at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding with an emphasis on Yacht Interiors. Korey was known for his focus on meticulous detail and his disciplined work ethic. While studying Yacht Interiors he was confident enough to volunteer to build a beautiful ladder for his instructor using hand-cut joinery. That took a lot of courage and he did a wonderful job on the project. Best wishes, Korey, and congratulations on your boat building accomplishments! (See photo gallery below.)

Spindrift Ocean Rowing is owned by Sonya Baumstein and is located in Port Townsend, Washington. They are building state of the art Ocean Row Boats. Designed by award-winning America’s Cup designers and built with the latest carbon composites, they are taking ocean rowing to the next level. Their design is approved for the Talisker Whiskey Challenge.

spindrift-rowing-featureCurrently they are finishing their first three builds and accepting orders for more.

State of the Art
Ocean Rowing Boats
for Expeditions & Races.

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!

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Peter Flint (Class of 2014) joins Un-Cruise Adventures of Seattle, WA and Juneau, AK

peter flint-320Peter Flint has joined Un-Cruise Adventures of Seattle, WA and Juneau, AK where he is a licensed deckhand. Peter graduated with an Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) degree from the Traditional Large Craft Program at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding with an emphasis on Yacht Interiors. During his program Peter was instrumental in building the transom for the Chamberlin-36 motor sailor. He had a breadth of cultural experience when he entered the school that will serve his customers well in his new job! Best wishes, Peter – we are so proud of your accomplishments!

With offices at historic Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle, Washington, and Juneau, Alaska, Un-Cruise Adventures offers an alternative to traditional cruises by taking guests into areas inaccessible to large ships and on excursions that are exclusive, unconventional and unmatched.



The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!

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Gina Bonneau (Class of 2013) working for Custom Furniture Business in Port Townsend, Washington

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAGina Bonneau from the Class of 2013 has been hired to work at the Seth Rolland Custom Furniture business located in Port Townsend, Washington.

Gina was a dedicated student in the Traditional Large Craft program under the supervision of instructor Ben Kahn. Gina was detail oriented and very focused in her woodworking. Her class built two of the Whitehalls for the BBC and Discovery Channel to replicate John Wesley Powell’s journey down the Colorado River in 1869.

The video series was release in England and excerpts can be seen on Youtube at the following link:

Congratulations, Gina! We are so proud of your accomplishments!


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Gabe Boylan (Class of 2013) hired on to Sailing Vessel Kwai on Big Island, Hawaii

Gabe BoylanGabe Boylan graduated from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in 2013 with a focus on Traditional Large Craft. Gabe was hired onto a research vessel after graduation and then onto the crew of the vessel Kwai in Hawaii.

“This will be Gabriels 4 voyage with the KWAI having joined us as a young man from Nebraska who had never been to sea. He is now a man, a sailor and a very valuable crew mate on the KWAI. We are so happy to have him.”

“The purpose of KWAI is to carry cargo, passengers, and crew in a well found sailing vessel between the islands of the Pacific Ocean. The objectives include:

· To maintain and build further on our strong working relationship with the islands we service, through freight, trade and passengers.

· To finish the refit of the KWAI as a strong safe sailing ship for world voyaging, with accommodations for 8 paying passengers and cadets and 8 professional crew members.

· Incorporate facilities for divers, researchers and scientific personnel to make the ship suitable for expedition charters.

New+topsail+rig+2Voyaging under sail

The main goal of this project is voyaging on the high seas. The present service is a packet vessel between Hawaii and the Cook Islands which offers excellent year round sailing across the trade winds in both directions. Adventure travelers and crew immerse themselves in a life at sea, sharing the opportunity to learn seamanship, navigation, rigging and ship and small boat handling. A round trip schedule of two to three months will allow for half the time at sea and half the time in port or at anchor. The ocean passages are memorable, but so are the relaxed stops at very remote islands.

Why a Sailing Vessel?

A powerful sailing ship, driven only by the free energy of the wind, dependent only on nature and the resources she carries aboard is not only a work of art and beauty, she is a proven, economical vehicle of transportation where fuel is expensive and often scarce. Our sails are our the subsidy, and the fuel in our tanks often goes ashore to run island generators, while the ship quietly rides the waves in the timeless tradition of her pedigree.

Trading Opportunities

For centuries these islands were supplied by infrequent ships arriving to sell their cargoes to the local inhabitants. Even in these modern times many of the small islands on our route are still not supplied on a regular basis. With approval and support from the local governments and island councils we provide a comprehensive service. We deliver ordered cargoes from the least expensive sources in Hawaii, and charge a purchasing fee and freight on all goods. We now take back dried seaweed as return cargo to Hawaii and have proposed to carry copra from Washington to Christmas, a much needed service.

Adventure Travel opportunities

Adventure travel remains a lucrative niche in the tourism industry. We offer a unique chance to visit remote islands, most accessible only by ocean voyages. On our vessel, passengers are be able to witness and take part in historical sea travel and trading. Long term, rewarding relationships have been established with the island communities and our passengers will be happy to meet the locals and able to pay for guided fishing, snorkeling, or exploring trips. In the age old island style, bountiful luaus ashore and lively parties aboard will be inevitable. We appeal to the eco-tourist as well as sail power is an environment-friendly way to see the world. The Pacific Islands will continue to offer risk-free destinations where political turmoil can be left behind.”

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!

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Quentin Ganser (Class of 2012) joins composite fabrication team at Scaled Composites aerospace firm in Mojave, California

quentin ganseradamm309Quentin Ganser graduated with the Class of 2012 and returned with the Class of 2013 to work on the school’s Bartender project.  After that time he was hired as a composite fabricator for Scaled Composites in California.

“Founded in 1982 by Burt Rutan, Scaled has broad experience in air vehicle design, tooling and manufacturing, specialty composite structure design, analysis and fabrication, and developmental flight tests of air and space vehicles.

The employees at Scaled come from a diverse background of talents, experience, and interests. This unique combination of individuals helps promote an innovative and creative atmosphere. Scaled offers the opportunity to pursue career and personal interests in a manner that can be found nowhere else by following one simple rule: have fun.”

Best wishes, Quentin, with your growing career!whiteknighttwo_banner


The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!

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Steve Kim (Class of 2014) Apprentice Boat Builder at Van Dam Custom Boats, Boyne City, Michigan

steve kimOur own Steve Kim (Class of 2014) was recently hired as an Apprentice Boat Builder at Van Dam Custom Boats in Michigan. Congratulations, Steve! We are so happy for you that you nailed the job of your dreams! This job was posted nationally so the competition was intense.

Steve graduated from the Traditional Small Craft program and took Yacht Interiors for summer quarter. He came to the Boat School with a strong background in construction management, but he wanted to “get his hands dirty” and actually build things.  Steve was detail oriented and showed a high level of discipline in his attendance and work performance while at the school. By the time he graduated he had the combined craftsmanship skills and work ethic to succeed.

Steve received a scholarship through the Boat School – we are so proud that our investment has now paid off for him and for the Van Dam Custom Boats company.

“At Van Dam Custom Boats, great is never good enough. We put our heart and soul into our custom wood boats, giving each one the attention to detail required to produce something truly unique and unlike any other.”

van dam custom boats“We take one of the best custom wooden boat building techniques—cold molded wood—and blend it with the design creativity and boat building experience found in our team. This combination produces wooden boats and yachts that redefine quality. We are so confident in our product that we offer a lifetime warranty to prove it. From start to finish, you are a part of our team. We design and build based on your personal preferences and discerning tastes to create a custom boat as unique as you.”

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!

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Mark Paxton (Class of 2014) hired at Ballenger Spar Systems in Watsonville, CA

Mark Paxton-001From Mark, “I just started Tuesday at Ballenger Spar Systems.  I’m very excited to continue the journey that I began at Boat School — learning new things and acquiring some new skills.  Buzz Ballenger has been at it for nearly 40 years. Ballenger has built rigs for Bill Lee (Santa Cruz Yachts), Olsen, Farrier, Corsair trimarans, Moore Sailboats, and custom work for racing and cruising yachts in tandem with marine architects.

Not much of the work is in wood, but rather aluminum, stainless steel and carbon fiber.  Ballenger machines the bits and pieces that go on masts and booms, so I’ll be picking up experience running CAD programs on CNC machinery, and eventually working on a water cutter that slices through plates of steel and aluminum like a knife through butter.  I’ll be able to hone welding skills as well.  You might check the Web site ( 215 Walker St, Watsonville, CA 95076; (831) 763-1196.

Lest you worry that I’ve stopped making sawdust, you should see and smell my garage!  I’m turning out bits and pieces, and I have a personal boat project on deck as well.

I hope you’re all doing well.  I think of you often, and always with the deepest gratitude.  I left a large piece of my heart at Boat School.  Mary and I know that some day, some how, we’ll be back on the Quimper Peninsula.  Until then, the adventure continues.”


The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is everyone’s wooden boat school!

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Hannah Lynch (Class of 2010) working at Rocking the Boat in Bronx, New York!


We are exceedingly proud of our graduate Hannah Lynch from the Class of 2010! Here is a post from the Rocking the Boat website about her:

“Hannah Lynch, Boatbuilding Program Director, graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2005, with a degree in Outdoor Recreation, Leadership & Management, and it was there she began to develop a deep appreciation for both wooden boatbuilding and teaching in unconventional environments. She spent the next several years, mostly in Utah, working in adolescent mental health, in both a wilderness and clinical environment, and in education, as a National Park Ranger.

In 2009, she attended the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, Washington, to study traditional small craft construction.”

cayuga-wooden-boatworksHannah’s contributions as a boat building educator will make a positive impact on not only her students, but on our country and our world. Thank you, Hannah, for sharing your passions and talents with others!

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Patrick Molzahn is Program Director in Cabinetmaking & Millwork at Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wisconsin

PatrickMolzahnCredentials: B.I.A., School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL; B.F.A., School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL; Vocational Certification, Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building, Port Townsend, WA.

Patrick has had a lifelong love of working with wood. He joined Madison College in 1998 after running his own Woodworking business for several years.

Originally trained as an architect, he has a strong interest in Architectural Millwork. His pursuits have led him around the world in search of how other cultures train their craftspeople. After living in Japan for 2-1/2 years, he returned to the US to study traditional Wooden Boatbuilding. Although he is boat less, Patrick employs the curved and circular techniques he learned in much of his work.

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Alex Finn (Class of 2014) hired at Areys Pond Boat Yard, South Orleans, Massachusetts

Alex Finn - Areys PondAlex Finn (Class of 2014) is now working at Areys Pond Boat Yard in South Orleans, Massachusetts!

“At Arey’s Pond Boat Yard, we are dedicated to building beautifully crafted vessels in keeping with Cape Cod’s proud heritage of fine boat building. We are also committed to being a small, neighborhood boat yard that meets the needs of the local sailing community. It is our goal to deliver first class service to our customers while providing a supportive, rewarding work environment for our employees.”

(You can see his photo and text entry from the company’s website at left).

Alex was a delight to have at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. He was a hard worker and always had a smile. He restored a Willits Brothers canoe during Repair and Restoration. He graduated with an Associate of Occupational Studies degree in Traditional Large Craft.

Best wishes, Alex! We are so proud of you and your accomplishments!

Arey's Pond


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NWSWB graduate, Mark Stout, to head restoration of John Steinbeck’s historic boat – Western Flyer

ptleadermark stout
Mark Stout of Scow Bay Boats said he is “rather thrilled” with the prospect of restoring the Western Flyer, which is not just any old wooden boat.

He started work last week overseeing what he estimates would be at least a year-long restoration of the boat that famous American author John Steinbeck chartered in 1940 for an expedition to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

“The Steinbeck thing is groovy and all that, but I’m really into it because it was built in Tacoma … there’s not many of that style left,” Stout said of the 76-foot purse seiner built in 1937.

Stout seems unmoved by the boat’s fame. “It’s just more of what we do. Yes, it’s a big project, but this is just what we do here in this boatyard.”

Stout is a 1982 graduate of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding who spent 20 years in Homer, Alaska. “I fix boats for a living,” he said. He moved back here about three years ago, and in September 2014, bought a large shop at the Port of Port Townsend Boatyard, formerly the home of Day Boat Works. (Stout also has a Friday-morning radio show from 8 to 10 a.m. on KPTZ FM 91.9, called the Oakum Shed.)

Read more…

Peninsula Daily News Article: Feb. 25, 2015