Canoe do it? Yes, we can!

By Tyson Trudel, Maritime Education Manager

In January, Maritime High School’s (MHS) inaugural class began their third project of the year—exploring the topic of vessels and voyages, looking at different vessel types, and learning about their history and uses. As part of this project, students constructed 18-foot flat bottom canoes to a design by John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft. The project began with an introduction to shop and tool safety. Students began with printed plans and expanded those drawings to full size. Along the way, students had the opportunity to learn some CAD skills (computer-aided design) by designing the seats of their canoes using CAD software and then using a CNC router (a computer-controlled cutting machine) to cut out the seat parts they designed. The bulk of the construction was completed in a concentrated build-week in March, with students returning to the shop periodically throughout the spring to finish their canoes.


On June 7th, students launched their canoes on a sunny but windy day at Seahurst Park. Students unloaded their canoes from the U-Haul truck that was used to transport them from MHS to the park and then wheeled them down the beach to the marine science center. Each student group selected a representative to speak for their group as their canoe was launched. One at a time, each canoe was carried to the water’s edge by the team of students that built it. Once in the water, the students paused and shared their hopes for their canoe—that the canoes would float, be safe, and get people out on the water. Finally, water that was collected from the Duwamish River by students on MHS’ training vessel, Admiral Jack, was poured into each canoe. It was a wonderful way to mark the end of the school year and celebrate all the work that students have put into creating community at Maritime High School in its inaugural year.