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Viking boat-building techniques taught on Peninsula

Check out the Pviking photoeninsula Daily News article that highlights the workshop at the Boat School From the Forest to the Sea: 11th Century Norse Boatbuilding taught by renowned boatbuilder Jay Smith hosted at the School. The workshop will introduced participants to 11th Century Boatbuilding including the technology of the period, methods of construction, and the many unique tools used in building “klinker” (lapstrake) boats before the advent of sawmills.

Read the article HERE

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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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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 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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Instructor Bruce Blatchley interviewed about Contemporary Boatbuilding program at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding

hooked on wooden boats

Today’s podcast is an interview with Bruce Blatchley of the NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, WA.

Bruce is the lead instructor for the contemporary boatbuilding building program which includes stitch and glue, cold molded, glued plywood lapstrake among other methods. Bruce and I discuss several the current school projects (boats in progress) and what contemporary building is all about.

The view the full post from Hooked on Wooden Boats with Dan Mattson, click here.

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Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding featured on front page of online Port Townsend Leader!

leader article-batela

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding’s recently completed and launched Batela was featured this week on the front page of the online newspaper, Port Townsend Leader! (See screen shot above.)

You can read the article about this beautiful wooden boat built at the school by clicking here!

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

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Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding’s Betsy Davis featured at Chamber meeting!

PDN headerBoat building school leader: Skills learned in maritime trade have currents in other facets of life

betsy davisPORT TOWNSEND — Students at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding graduate with skills that are beyond the obvious, the school’s director said in a presentation to the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

Executive Director Betsy Davis, who took over leadership of the school in October, told about 30 people how learning how to build a boat also teaches skills that can be applied in many facets of life.

“I learned a lot about how to problem solve in the physical world,” Davis said of her own schooling.

“I met people who were brilliant in fitting three-dimensional objects who may not have functioned well in a traditional academic environment, and I learned an ethic around craftsmanship and how to do things right.”

Davis previously worked in the software industry agency, which she said was a different world.

“When I worked at Microsoft and it came time to ship the software, there might be a bug and we’d say that we were going to fix it in the next version,” she said.

“With a boat, you spend all that time milling the wood, and if you screw that up, you need to start all over again.

“When building a boat, you need to do things correctly and cost effectively, which is an important skill that could be lost in our society.” Read more


tradeonlytodayClick here for the Trade Only Today article

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

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NWSWB’s Contemporary Program featured!

Record crop of students has boat school class at NWMC

Leader newspaper article

contemporary programThe Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is intent on enhancing local collaboration while furthering its regional reputation.

For more than 35 years, the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding has been a contributor to the Port Townsend Bay and Jefferson County experience, noted Betsy Davis, executive director. By drawing faculty, students and visitors to the school, and by graduating quality craftspeople, the boat school is integral to the region’s culture and economy.

The boat school brings around $2 million a year to the local economy” said Davis. “It is our intention that as an educational destination the school’s collaborations, programs and contributions enhance the region.”

In October 2014 the school welcomed a record 64 students to its Port Hadlock campus, from 19 states and five countries outside the U.S., and including 13 veterans and eight women. The school has grown to include contemporary boat building methods and become a fully accredited vocational training program.

The boat school began piloting a practicum in contemporary boat building recently in the Wooden Boat Foundation Boatshop at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

“We are delighted that boat school students have the opportunity for hands-on learning in this unique location in such close proximity to the maritime trades,” said Davis. “In turn we hope that the Northwest Maritime Center’s many visitors will learn as they watch craftspeople at work, and will become aware of the vibrant educational programs we offer at our campus in Port Hadlock.”

Read More article

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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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The Two Loves of Francis Lee


by Kurt Hoehne
January 31, 2014

Francis_Lee16asm-300x200The Francis Lee story is part love of craft and part love of sailing. The combination is simply the best of sailing and a showcase for the Pacific Northwest’s boatbuilding skills. (see complete list at end of article of those who contributed)
Love of Craft

It’s hard to find someone with greater love of craft that naval architect Bob Perry. At age 67 he continues to come up with elegant solutions for wide ranging clients. These particular clients, Kim and Susan Bottles, were already long time friends, which made the experience that much richer.

Perry and the Bottles shared an affinity for Bill Garden’s Oceanus design, which led to a close study of L. Francis Herreshoff’s drawings of the “Ultimate Sailing Machine.” The path started becoming clear, though Perry said “You want long waterline, I can do long waterline. But it will be mine, not his.” And so started the 4-year process that ended in January’s launch of the Francis Lee.FLrhp2

This was, from nearly the outset, to be a Pacific Northwest project to showcase the region’s boatbuilding expertise and give a shot in the arm to the local marine industry.

But it became much more than that when the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building was chosen for the construction. The School’s enthusiasm for the project spread and soon just about every skill and talent necessary to create this vessel came together around the boat.

Read More

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Breaking news! Boat School enrollment opens January 2014 for the 2014-2015 school year!

I wanna go to Boat School this year!

Enrollment at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding will open this coming January 2014 for the 2014-2015 school year. New enrollment forms and a new catalog will be published and posted soon online at the following link:

The Boat School has capacity for a new cohort of 55 students each year, starting their programs on or around the date of October 1. Enrollment is managed on a “first come first serve” basis so don’t wait too long to send in your enrollment forms. They must be accompanied by a $300 payment to cover the $100 registration fee and a $200 tuition deposit. (The tuition deposit is refundable if you happen to cancel your enrollment before school starts.)

For more information about the Boat School programs, tuition and scholarships go to

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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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Woodworker’s Not-a-Ball 2013 A Carhartts and Black Tie Affair – November 1, 2013

ptwoodworkingschoolFriday November 1, 2013 6:30 – 8:45 at Sirens Pub , Port Townsend

Keeping the tradition of having a party the night before the Port Townsend Woodworkers’ Show alive. You don’t have to be a Woodworker to join us! Just come in costume and ready for a good time.

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking is holding a Ball this year but a Not-A-Ball – which really means a Fancy Dress party and, since it is the night after Halloween, you can recycle your Halloween (or even your Kinetic Costume) with a sprinking of Shavings, Sawdust and Panache.

Admission is by donation: They suggest a $10 minimum. All donations go to the School’s Woodworker’s of the Future Scholarship Fund.

Read more for details.

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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.

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Halsey Herreshoff presents to students at Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding!

Halsey Herreshoff at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding
Halsey Herreshoff at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding

Halsey Herreshoff, Naval Architect of production and custom yachts, sailor and former president of the Herreshoff Marine Museum, gave a presentation to students at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding on their second day of school, October 2, 2013. Mr. Herreshoff is part of a remarkable line of Naval Architects, most famous among them his grandfather Nathanael Greene Herreshoff.

“Halsey might be best known for his career as an America’s Cup sailor, having served on many cup defenders of the 12-metre class Era, first as bowman on Columbia in 1958 and concluding as navigator on Liberty in 1983. But perhaps his greatest contribution to sailing has been his development of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame at the Herreshoff Marine Museum.” – Wikipedia

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is thrilled to have been honored with such a visit and looks forward to a continuing mentorship between Mr. Herreshoff and the School. Mr. Herreshoff’s friend, Herbert Weissblum, accompanied him and is shown with Mr. Herreshoff in the photo below with our students. Mr. Weissblum serves on the Board of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

Thank you Mr. Weissblum and Mr. Herreshoff for your input and for your interest in the next generation of boat builders and designers!

Halsey Herreshoff and NW School of Wooden boatbuilding Students

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2014 Associate Degree students graduate from Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuildling

class of 2014Port Hadlock, WA, September 10, 2014

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is pleased to announce that thirty-three students have successfully completed the twelve-month Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) degree program in wooden boat building and will graduate on Wednesday, September 17.

Friends, family, fellow students, board members and alumni are invited to a ceremony and potluck honoring the graduates at 3 p.m. at the H.J. Carroll Park, 9884 Rhody Drive in Chimacum.

Graduating students are: Rw Barrett, Russell Bates, Alec Binder, Bobby Bowen, Galen Brake, Adrian Candaux, Lafayette Duvall, Reuben Ewan, Alan Fenwick , Alexander Finn, Peter Flint, Charles Garrett, Austin Hatch, Samuel Hunt, Steve Kim, Drew Larson, Mike Lee, Christopher Lindstam, Jeffrey Lydston, Andrew McGilvra, Mark Paxton, Corey Rodgers, Korey Ruben, John Sandoval, Matthew Shaunessy, Jacob Simmering, Bradley Suedekum, Noah Sturdy, Mussa Ulenga, Caleb Underwood, Michael Voderberg, Ryan Wilmsmeier and Jessiah Worley.

Please join us for the ceremony and potluck afterwards. For the potluck, please bring salad, side dish or dessert to share. The School will provide service-ware, lasagna and soft drinks. For questions contact the school at 360-385-4948 or [email protected].

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NWSWB Contemporary Boatbuilding program expands

Stephens/Waring Yacht Design – Sentinel-24, a high performance cold molded day sailor on the water.

Port Hadlock, WA, August 15, 2014

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB) in Port Hadlock is excited to announce a new collaboration with the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend. Due to significant growth in the Contemporary Wood Composites Boatbuilding program at the School, the Northwest Maritime Center will host approximately 18 of the School’s full-time vocational students in their Port Townsend boat shop for winter and spring quarters. This partnership will span from January through June 2015.

“We are thrilled about this collaboration with the Northwest Maritime Center. They have made it possible for the School to expand immediately to meet increased enrollments in the Contemporary program. This will give us time to thoughtfully consider how we should more forward,” said Interim Director David Blessing.

The Contemporary Wood Composites Boatbuilding program was started in 2005 as an addition to the well-known Traditional Boatbuilding programs. Students learn modern techniques, including strip-planking, plywood construction methods, cold-molding and epoxy applications.

A recent contemporary boat from the NWSWB is the Stephens/Waring Yacht Design – Sentinel-24, a high performance cold molded day sailor. The boat was built under the leadership of Chief Instructor Sean Koomen. “It’s an ideal boat to build with our students. They gain experience in a variety of different skills and techniques, including laminations, vacuum-bagging, fiberglass in different weights and foam construction,” said Koomen. The boat has teak decks laminated over plywood sub-decks, all set off by a bright mahogany coaming. She was launched at the 2013 Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival and is currently for sale.

The school is accredited through the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and is approved for Federal Student Aid and Veteran’s Educational Benefits. Students earn an Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) degree in one year through an intensive schedule of instruction from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

Jake Beattie, Northwest Maritime Center Executive Director shared, “The Maritime Center was built to be a resource for this community- and this leverages all of this investment for the greater good. It helps the Boat School accommodate more demand and eighteen more students will be prepared for their next job. This is a partnership we can all be proud of.”

For questions call 360-385-4948 or write to [email protected].

Click here to read related Port Townsend Leader article

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Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding Sail In — August 3, 2013 – Port Hadlock, WA!

Port Hadlock photo by Tom Roorda
Port Hadlock photo by Tom Roorda

The Puget Sound Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association is co-sponsoring a Sail-In. The four boat shops at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding will be open for tours, as will the blacksmith and welding shops. An informal bar-be-que will be hosted by the School for students, staff and TSCA members and guests. In addition, there are plenty of good restaurants in the Port Hadlock and Chimacum areas within a few minutes of the School, and several nearby coffee stands.

August is one of the best months to visit the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State – come on over and join us, rain or shine! Questions? Call us at 360-385-4948 or write to us at [email protected].

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Take a workshop at Port Hadlock’s boat school, then soak up the salty scenery

Originally published February 23, 2013 at 7:01 PM | Page modified June 21, 2013 at 1:17 PM

small craftseattletimeslogo_inside_pulitzerThe Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is at the heart of this ‘education vacation,’ with good food, hiking and paddling nearby.

PORT HADLOCK, Jefferson County — If you’re one of those nautical types who mystify the medical community every time a blood test discovers saltwater in your veins, here’s an “education vacation” for you.

It includes soul-soothing vistas of gunmetal-blue waters; protected lagoons for kayaking among whole fleets of water birds; water-view hiking trails among blushing madronas and eagle-topped fir snags. And an opportunity to learn how to properly varnish your boat, or even build a new one.

Port Hadlock is home to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, one of the most respected academies of its kind, with about as salty a crowd of instructors and students as ever rollicked to a sea chantey.

Read more.

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Peter M. Leenhouts resigns as Executive Director of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding

Board President David Blessing and Executive Director Peter M. Leenhouts in front of the Chamberlin-36 motor sailor.
Board President David Blessing and Executive Director Peter M. Leenhouts in front of the Chamberlin-36 motor sailor.

Port Hadlock, WA, July 3rd, 2014 –
The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB) announced today that Peter M. Leenhouts has officially resigned from his two-year post as Executive Director.

In his statement to the NWSWB Board of Directors, Leenhouts explained his future plans, saying that he was proud that he successfully led the School through a period of growth while returning the School to financial viability, and that he was departing to prepare for his Presidency of the East Jefferson Rotary Club in 2015.

“I’ve worked hard over these years to bring the Boat School into the strongest position for the future,” Leenhouts said. “We have faced some significant challenges, but the growth and development of the School has been outstanding. It’s been an honor to lead and to contribute my talents to an educational institution that I care about so deeply.”

During Leenhouts’ time as Executive Director he led the School through a successful Renewal of Accreditation inspection, doubled enrollment, significantly enhanced graduation and employment percentages for alumni, improved instructor training opportunities, increased the School’s national and international visibility and worked hard to ensure that the majority of boats under the school’s construction are commissioned.

Leenhouts is particularly proud of his accomplishments in developing an aggressive program to enhance the School’s compliance with accreditation standards. These efforts were rewarded during the 2013 Renewal of Accreditation when inspectors confirmed that survey results of students and staff were among the highest they had ever seen.

Leenhouts obtained and managed a highly visible three-boat commission from the British Broadcasting Corporation, boats used to recreate famed explorer John Wesley Powell’s exploration and descent of the Colorado River in 1869. This project was supported on camera by one of the School’s instructors and provided international visibility for the school. Another significant commission for the School was the Carl Chamberlin 36-foot motor sailor, a three-year project by a well-known local designer.

David Blessing, President of the NWSWB Board of Directors, stated, “We appreciate Pete’s service to the school. His strong commitment has helped put the School on a firm path for the future.”

The Board of Directors at the School is currently seeking candidates to fill Leenhouts’ position after his departure. In the interim period, Board President David Blessing has stepped in to serve as Interim Executive Director until a suitable replacement can be found.

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is an accredited, private nonprofit vocational school whose mission for 33 years has been to teach and preserve traditional and contemporary wooden boatbuilding skills while developing the individual as a craftsman.

For more information, contact:

David Blessing, President, NWSWB Board of Directors

NOTE: Pete is a retired career U.S. Navy Officer. After he retired, he returned to attend all three boat building courses at the School, one after the other – Contemporary first, then Traditional Small Craft, and finally Traditional Large Craft.

Pete wrote dozens of stories and news articles about the School, took tens of thousands of pictures of our students, staff and boats, served on the Board of Directors, and in the spring of 2012 was hired as Director.

If it involved the School, boatbuilding, marine history, woodworking, old tools, marine photography, books and/or magazines or even tall tales or sea stories about these interests, he was your man. Pete is a long-time woodworker who enjoys boat building in his home shop where he has a Bolger Clam Skiff under construction.