Led by International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) graduate Ariana Murphy, the group of 10 students met at HMM for 20 hours each week in a course sponsored by the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA).
Last Thursday, Aug. 11, the 2022 Summer Boatbuilding Class at the Herreshoff Marine Museum (HMM) successfully launched the result of their five weeks of work: a 12.5-foot, lightweight, one-person cedar strip canoe.
Led by International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) graduate Ariana Murphy, the group of 10 students met at HMM for 20 hours each week in a course sponsored by the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA). There is an application process, including instructor interviews. Anyone interested in the course for next summer can contact the HMM for more information.
“The class starts with an intro to safety and safe tool handling, then we move on to principals of boatbuilding,” said Murphy, a teacher who is a furniture maker as well as a boatbuilder. “They made stools to practice their woodworking skills before building the canoe.”
“The kids were fantastic, they jumped right into high-level boatbuilding skills. It was a pleasure to teach them.”
According to Jen Huber, Director of Programs at RIMTA, the organization has sponsored the program for eight years, with funding from the Governor’s Workforce Board. In addition to the Bristol program, they have one in Newport for 10 students, and another in North Providence for 20 students.
“It’s a great way for 14- to 15-year-olds to get a work-based learning opportunity in an important industry while earning a small stipend,” said Huber. “It’s a great pipeline to get new workers in the trade.”
Melissa Conlon, a 2011 Mt. Hope High School graduate, served as assistant instructor for this session. Also an IYRS graduate, Conlon was on hand two days a week.
“I was surprised at the levels of experience these kids had, from carpentry to engineering,” she said. “They were all very willing to learn, and very inventive. It was exciting to see it come together.”
The students themselves clearly enjoyed the opportunity, and each took a turn saying something prior to the launch. Aiden Enjeti won’t soon forget the lessons of reductive building, carving paddles from a block of wood.
“We started with a bandsaw, then slowly chipped, then sanded away,” he said. “It was a very, very long process.”
“We did a lot of work and learned a lot about each other, as well as boat building,” said Elena Sun.
“This boat has been an absolute group effort,” said Nick Markham. “It’s crazy to see how the smaller details can make the difference between floating and sinking.
“We are hoping this will float proudly.”