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Save the Ajax Cafe, Grow the Boat School

Exciting news! The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding has an opportunity to expand our campus while also supporting the re-opening of our neighborhood Cafe.

As you may know, the Ajax Cafe and the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding have been cornerstones of our community for over 36 years. The future of the Ajax Cafe has been at risk, but by working together the two organizations have developed a mutually beneficial plan that resolves septic issues and provides a long-term lease option for the Ajax while connecting the upper and lower parts of the Boat School into one contiguous campus. The Boat School has an accepted offer on the Ajax property and is raising funds to cover the cost of the purchase. We have raised over $155,000 of the required $375,000 in tax-deductible donations and we need your help today to reach the finish line.

This is the community dreaming – and all of us grabbing an oar.

You can help “Save the Ajax Cafe, Grow the Boat School” by making a tax-deductible donation to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding to support the purchase of the property.

(On the donation page, please choose ‘Ajax Campaign’
in the drop down menu to specify this particular fund.)

For more information about “Save the Ajax Cafe, Grow the Boat School“:

Learn more about the details and budget for this project

Learn about the vision of the Ajax Cafe owners

See who else is supporting the project

Learn about the economic and community benefits of this project

To talk in person, share your ideas or set up an information session with a group of your friends,contact Betsy Davis, Boat School Executive Director at 206-390-0381 or [email protected].

You can also let your friends know about this by forwarding this email or sending them to

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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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Join the Celebration at 3rd Annual Gala & Fundraiser

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding delivers a quality education that is effective and unique — old-world craftmanship relevant to today’s workplace. We’re going strong after 36 years and it’s time to celebrate!

We invite you to attend the Boat School’s 3rd Annual Gala & Fundraiser ‘Building on Tradition’ April 22, 2017 at the Northwest Maritime Center. Join us for an evening of delicious food, games, entertaining stories of the school’s rich history and future, and a don’t-miss auction.

Your support in this event helps strengthen our programs and ensures that craftsmanship reaches the hands of a new generation of problem-solvers.

Want to attend? We’re getting close to being sold out so don’t wait to purchase your tickets at

Want to give back another way? Consider volunteering the night of. Visit to learn about available shifts.

Have an item or service that would be a great addition to our live or silent auction? Contact Christina Cogan at [email protected] or (360) 385-4948 ext. 307.

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NOVEMBER 29th, 2016



You don’t have to be a world leader or a billionaire to give back. #GivingTuesday is about ordinary people coming together doing extraordinary things. On Tuesday, November 29th, people from around the world will come together for one common purpose: to share in the communal spirit of giving back by participating in #GivingTuesday.

For 35 years, the Boat School has been committed to providing a quality education where students learn confidence in working with their hands through traditional and contemporary wooden boatbuilding. Your support helps ensure that our future will be filled problem-solvers and people who know how to work with their hands. With this one-of-a-kind education, students are regenerating real-world craftsmanship, using their talents to bring new energy to a wide variety of industries.

Your financial support ensures that students from all walks of life will continue to learn timeless skills that draw on values of craftsmanship, integrity, and quality. Thank You!

There are many ways to get involved in #GivingTuesday. We encourage you to join the movement and visit to learn more about how you can make a difference.




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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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Help Celebrate the New Milling Shop


 milling cutting
 milling shop edi

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding launches its new school year with a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the new Hammond Shop Milling Room, a re-skinned and remodeled Rubb Shelter, and an expanded Metal Shop.

 planars 2 edit

We are excited to share this major milestone with you. This was made possible thanks to the generosity of our community. Please help us celebrate this groundbreaking event.

 rubb shelter 2 edit

2:00 P.M.
42 N. Water St. Port Hadlock, WA

We also invite you to stay on afterwards to tour the shops and meet this year’s class at the annual new-student potluck that begins at 3:00 P.M.

For information, contact Christina Cogan at [email protected] or 360-385-4948.
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2015 Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

The 2015 Wooden Boat Festival is almost here! Don’t miss this wonderful world of boats happening September 11th-13th. Learn more HERE 

Check out the Boat School’s ad in the The Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader 2015 Wooden Boat Festival Program happening annually at the Northwest Maritime Center. Make sure to stop by the Boat School booth, enjoy a beer at the Alum event, learn some new techniques at the boatbuilding stage, discover more about The Felicity Ann Project, and check out the featured Boat School boats at the festival docks!

To view the complete festival program, click HERE

pt leader festival ad

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BOATFEST AND SAIL-IN at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding – join us on May 30, 2015!


Saturday, May 30, 2015
11:00 am to 5:00 pm

Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding
42 N. Water Street, Port Hadlock

Bob Miller, (360) 385-9585
[email protected]


  • Boat Rides from the Community Boat Project and Sail-In participants
  • Music with Lobo Del Mar from 2:30-4:00 pm!
  • Boat Launch – see our Catspaw Dinghy and cedar lapstrake canoe  hit the water!
  • Open Shops and Guided Tours (Shops are loaded with projects)
  • Kid Fun!
  • Loads of boat talk and community — Instructors and students on site

Food: Bring your own picnic. The barbecue will be manned and ready to help. Plenty of seating – in or out of the Sun. In addition, Beer Garden and Beverages are available across the street at the Ajax Cafe.

Launch and Parking Info: From the Port of Port Townsend website: “This boat launch ramp is located just to the south of the Port Hadlock commercial district. From Oak Bay Road, turn onto Lower Hadlock Road (large red ‘Ajax Cafe’ sign is a good landmark). The boat launch ramp is at the bottom of the hill, directly across the T intersection. The ramp is normally sand-covered, and is best suited to small boats. Once you have launched your boat, you can park to the sides of the road.

Tides: May 30, 2015 (Port Townsend)
8:56 PDT 0.5 feet Low Tide
16:46 PDT 6.9 feet High Tide
20:44 PDT 5.3 feet Low Tide


More information, boat registration, and volunteer sign-up: Contact Bob Miller at: [email protected] or (360) 385-9585.

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

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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

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Tri-Area Locals Support Planned Expansion of Port Hadlock Heritage Campus

shipsaw at wbf 2014 - croppedThe Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is pleased to announce that it is building a vital addition to its Port Hadlock facility, thanks to strong local support.  The 1,000 square foot addition, costing an estimated $112,000, will house large machinery where students will learn to prepare wood for the boats they are building or repairing.   Having the machines in a separate room will allow the School to manage noise and dust.   Over the last month community members and the Board have stepped forward with commitments for over 75% of the project costs.

“Having started at the Boat School on October 1, I’ve already been inspired by the warmth and generosity of the local community,” reports a delighted Betsy Davis, the school’s new Executive Director.  “This key investment in our Port Hadlock Heritage Campus will help us better serve our growing numbers of students.”

The new Milling Room will contain a B-17 Ship Saw built in the mid-1930s that accommodates a 16” thick timber when the blade is vertical and 12” thickness at the extreme cutting angle of 45 degrees.  The saw is being donated temporarily by Rosario Straits Group Inc., a local project management company, that is also donating professional services to the project.  Students will learn how to safely use the Ship Saw along with other stationary power tools needed for milling wood for the boats they are building.  A specially designed dust collection system will also enhance safety for students and instructors throughout the shop.

Nearby residents Duke and Jeanne Shold contributed to the project due to their commitment to education and to their high regard for Jeff Hammond, instructor for over 25 years, who will be retiring this summer.  “The Boat School is a vital part of our community and education is very important to us.  This is an exciting project to be part of.”

In turn, Hammond commented on the project’s significance.  “The generosity of the local community improves the safety and quality of the education we offer our students at the Boat School.  This is an exciting investment for the Boat School.”

Beginning in February the Boat School will host a tour and open house the first Friday of every month at 3:30.  The first one will be held on February 6.  “We want to open our doors to our friends locally to give them a tour and tell them what we are up to, and we want to invite friends from around the region to see the new changes at the school and also appreciate the other activities the Peninsula offers,” reports Betsy Davis, Executive Director.

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is one of the premier accredited educational institutions of its kind, attracting students from around world and as far away as Australia, Austria, South Korea, and Tanzania. The school’s mission is to teach and preserve traditional and contemporary wooden boatbuilding skills while developing the individual as a craftsman.

For information or an opportunity to help support the project, please contact  Betsy Davis, Executive Director, at 206-390-0381 or [email protected].

Port Townsend Leader Article

Peninsula Daily News Article

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Neena Milton rocks the boat!

Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 3:30 am

By Emma Leedy of the Leader |

neena-miltonForget Noah, Neena Milton is building a boat.

Milton, a senior at Chimacum High School, takes two periods of woodshop every day. She started taking woodshop for the first time last year after moving to Port Hadlock from San Antonio, Texas.

With a free period in her schedule, she wanted to take an art class but the class was too full. Milton started looking for alternatives that would be similar to an art class and stumbled upon woodshop.

“I saw woodshop and I decided, oh, well, that’s interesting, plus it’s more physical work than anything,” said Milton, 18.

She tried it out and sure enough, she liked it.

Milton sees it as a great way to keep herself busy and enjoys “just being able to make things and make some interesting objects.”

She now navigates the woodshop like a pro, measuring and cutting pieces of wood for her boat at her own discretion, with little instruction from her teacher, Todd Miller, but it wasn’t always easy.

Read more

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Port Townsend Rhody Parade 2014 a blast!


Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding student Mark Paxton enjoys attention at the Port Townsend Rhody Parade from the Sequim Irrigation Festival Royalty.


Our Boat School parade team awaits the start of the parade. L. to r: Executive Director Pete Leenhouts, students Mark Paxton, Bradley Suedekum and Courtney (last name TBD).

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERADirector of Education Pamela Roberts shows off her maritime parade outfit.

Parade signs on the boat trailer help inform the community about educational opportunities at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.

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Edensaw visits Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding!

Pete Leenhouts, Anna Nasset, John Montgomery

Pete Leenhouts, Executive Director of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, enjoys a visit from Anna Nasset and John Montgomery from Edensaw Woods Ltd. (Nice t-shirt John!)

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding started in 1981. Jim Ferris and Charlie Moore started Edensaw Woods in 1984 and both are graduates of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. This creates a special relationship between the School and Edensaw, who helps keep the School well-stocked in tools and high quality woods.

We hope you can come by more often to see the boat building fruits of those sales!

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Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival-WA

Port Townsend’s Wooden Boat Festival is the most education-packed and inspiring wooden boat event in the world. Featuring more than 300 wooden vessels, dozens of indoor and outdoor presentations and demonstrations, a who’s who of wooden boat experts and thousands of wooden boat enthusiasts, there’s something to do, someone to meet, or a boat to board at every turn. Expanded a little each year, the festival honors its traditions while inviting energetic debate and demonstration about the latest innovations in boatbuilding, equipment, skills, and adventure.

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Washington’s Olympic Peninsula – a slideshow

Rain Forest FernThe Olympic Peninsula of Washington State is a unique natural biome of the world. Surrounded by water on three sides, the Peninsula is a haven for people interested in marine activities such as boating and fishing. Mossy rain forests create native habitat for a host of wild animals.

Home to the Olympic National Park, the peninsula attracts visitors from around the world. Natural wonders include the Olympic Mountains and the Olympic National Forest.

pacific-oceanThe Peninsula has some of the most pristine Pacific Ocean beaches in the United States. You can visit Lake Ozette near the coast and take a day hike out to the beaches where you will see sand as well as logs, estuaries and sea stacks.

Tribal communities include Neah Bay, Elwah and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribes, who participate each year in the annual Canoe Journey. The Olympic Culinary Loop and local Wineries provide special events and tours that will satisfy everyone’s taste for fine food and beverages.

Resource Links on the Olympic Peninsula

Enjoy Port Townsend

Olympic National Park

Washington State Parks


Port Townsend School of Woodworking

Northwest Maritime Center

Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building

The Rose Theater

Port Townsend Film Festival

Washington State Ferries

Port Townsend Farmers Market

Port Townsend Marine Science Center

Thinking of joining the school?

Click here to access our enrollment forms, catalog and application procedures.

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Marci Van Cleve given 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award!

Marcia-Van CleveOur main liaison to the local school districts’ high school programs, Marci Van Cleve; teacher with a vision and previous recipient of the American Red Cross “Hero” Award for, “25 years of saving young peoples lives through educational excellence”, now is celebrated by the national boating community for 25 years of bringing youth into the maritime culture.

Sponsored by Wooden Boat Magazine and given by the Wooden Boat Foundation and NW Maritime Center the Lifetime Achievement Awards are the kick off to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, and are a definitive way of becoming the Who’s Who in the boating community.

Congratulations, Marci!

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R2AK – Sail, Row, Paddle – All the way to Alaska! First Prize – $10,000!

alex finnr2ak-logoR2AK – starting June 4, 2015 in Port Townsend, WA




The physical endurance, saltwater know-how and bulldog tenacity to navigate the 750 coldwater miles from
the Lower 48 to Alaska.


Guaranteed blisters, mild hypothermia, and the cathartic elation that comes from accomplishing something others would call impossible.

r2akAnd if you cross the line first you’ll win a pile of cash.

First prize – $10,000


Port Townsend. Washington
June 4, 2015

Click here for details!

Sponsored by:

pocketyacht oldsaltlogo375 ——- WBCLogo2cLarge —— Northwest Maritime Center


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A public surplus auction will be held SAT., NOV. 8, 2014 at the NORTHWEST SCHOOL OF WOODEN BOATBUILDING’S “Rubb Shelter,” on the upper part of campus.  Included will be tools, boats, machinery, and all kinds of misc. hardware.


This will be a live auction and everything will be sold!  Preview will be at 9am with the auction starting at 10am.

LOCATION: 42 N. Water Street, Port Hadlock, WA 98339. For more information visit For questions call 360-385-4948.