Boatshop Classes & Workshops

Coming from out of town?

Bundle classes at Northwest Maritime Center with lodging at the Swan Hotel! Featuring 13-rooms and gorgeous views, the Swan is a quaint seaport boutique hotel located across the street from our main campus and within walking distance of downtown Port Townsend shops and restaurants. Funds from the Swan Hotel help support our programs at NWMC. Lodging bundles subject to availability. Lodging for classes can be booked directly at

Swan Hotel

NWMC requires all staff, contractors, volunteers, tenants and program participants over the age of 18, who are working/learning indoors at NWMC to verify that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide an approved letter exemption. Please view our full COVID safety practices and policies here.

We offer boatbuilding classes for all abilities in all kinds of watercraft—sailboats, stitch & glue plywood kayaks, Scamps, surfboards, and more—from a number of different companies.

These classes are designed for adults, with youth registration alongside a parent/guardian possible for some classes. Please call us at 360-385-3628 x300.

All classes have a minimum number of participants, in the rare case that we will need to cancel, we let you know at least 2 weeks before the class start date. Prior to class you will receive an email from our registrar with specific details pertaining to your class.

NWMC is proud to offer scholarships to those facing financial barriers, youth service organizations, schools and underserved youth, so everyone can have the opportunity to learn with us, regardless of financial circumstances. Please note that Boatshop classes have a limited number of full scholarship spots per class. To be considered for a scholarship, or to sponsor a participant please contact our Boatshop Manager, Joel Arrington or 360.385.3628 x123.

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Class Descriptions

Classes listed are listed here in alphabetical order. See above for the 2022 schedule at a glance.

Boatshop with Benefits

You create your schedule!
8:00 AM – 8:00 PM | $399 
This is an opportunity for you to design your own workshop! We offer a space with a workbench that a maker can use and have access to from 8 AM–8 PM for seven days. As a participant, you are not limited to just one week but are welcome to rent the space for as many weeks as you need as long as space is available. With the rental of the space, you will also get 8 hours of one-on-one instruction from the Boatshop manager, Joel Arrington. We team up with outside businesses such as Chesapeake Lightcraft and Duckworks to help you with project direction and supplies, including boat kits and rigging.

We will ensure COVID precautions and social distancing guidelines are met. As such, each participant will be allotted their own personal work space and bench to facilitate distancing from other individuals. The # of participants will also be dictated by what is allowed in each of the phases moving forward. 4 participants through phase 2 and 6+ participants in phase 3. A covid-19 safety protocol will be set up and structured very similar to what is already in place now with the crews that are working on the main shop floor. Your safety is our top priority.

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Build Your Own Kaholo Stand Up Paddleboard—by Chesapeake Light Craft

July 23 – 29 last day to register is June 23
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM | Kit Cost: $1099 +tax | Tuition Cost: $775, $725 member

In this seven-day build class, instructor Joel Arrington will guide the builder through all the steps of building Chesapeake Light Craft’s Kaholo Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP). There are no other SUP boards in the world that are easier for a first-time boatbuilder, or better-looking. But you don’t give up one bit of performance if you build your own Kaholo! The Kaholos are okoume marine plywood, stitched-and-glued together, and sheathed in fiberglass and epoxy, with a grid of bulkheads and stiffeners inside to make the boards stiff and light. Kits include premium non-skid deck pads, cut to shape, breather tubes, and custom laminated skegs.

It’s taken five years and more prototypes than CLC cares to count to refine the two Kaholo SUP boards. Working with surfing and paddleboard guru Larry Froley of Gray Whale Trading in California, they created two beautiful hollow wooden boards with the rare quality of being fast enough to race but stable enough for first-timers. Tracking is great and a fine bow with kayak-derived shaping lifts the Kaholo 12-6 and 14 up and over waves. The tail shape and twin fins facilitate surfing on long swells once your skills build up to that.

The Northwest Maritime Center is excited to partner with Chesapeake Light Craft to offer four unique boat-building workshops. Since 1994, CLC boatbuilding classes have launched more than a thousand boats and introduced countless men, women, and children to the joys of boatbuilding. Talented professional instructors will help you assemble your own boat from start to finish. These classes will be held over the course of 7 to 9 days—a perfect one-week vacation with your own boat to take home, ready for finish work.

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Build Your Own Expedition Wherry—by Chesapeake Light Craft

April 16–24 last day to register is March 16
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | Kit Cost $1799 +tax | Tuition $975, $925 member

So, you want to be a contender in SEVENTY48? Then you need this boat! There’s only one caveat—you have to build it first. Through this 9-day class you will build a fast, shapely wherry that is intended for serious sliding-seat rowers who are looking for open-water ability and enough payload for camp-cruising.

Chesapeake Light Craft’s Expedition Wherry came about as a solution for fitness-oriented rowers who want to go out in cold or rough water, perhaps with camping gear. Designer John C. Harris, who has been designing, building, and enjoying sliding-seat boats for 27 years, spent a lot of time tinkering with the hull lines to find the best compromise between speed, payload, and stability. Most of the boat is decked in, with only a small “sump” area beneath the oarsman’s heels to gather bilge water. An optional Elvstrom-type bailer can dispose of any water that gathers there. There are four separate watertight compartments, all accessible through hatches for gear storage. The boat has enough stability, and the compartments provide enough buoyancy, that it’s possible to climb back into the cockpit after a capsize, bail out, and continue on your way.

The official max payload is 423 pounds. Thus, a 200-pound oarsman could carry the equivalent of three infantry-sized backpacks worth of camping gear. (of course, the lighter you pack, the faster the boat goes.) The standard flush deck hatches are large enough for tents, sleeping bags, and kitchen sinks of modest size.

The Northwest Maritime Center is excited to partner with Chesapeake Light Craft to offer four unique boat-building workshops. Since 1994, CLC boatbuilding classes have launched more than a thousand boats and introduced countless men, women, and children to the joys of boatbuilding. Talented professional instructors will help you assemble your own boat from start to finish. These classes will be held over the course of 7 to 9 days—a perfect one-week vacation with your own boat to take home, ready for finish work.

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Build Your Own Shearwater or Wood Duck Sea Kayak—by Chesapeake Light Craft

October 24 – 30 last day to register is September 24
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | Kit Cost: Shearwater 17 $1279, Shearwater 16 $1279, Shearwater Sport $1279, Shearwater Double $1749, Wood Duck 10 $1129, Woodduck 12 $1129, Woodduck 14 $1279, Woodduck Double $1399 | Tuition:  $775, $725 member

In this seven-day class you will build your own Shearwater 14, 16, 17, Sport or Sectional Sport kayak from a Chesapeake Light Craft kit. Additional options include the Wood Duck 10, 12, 14, and Wood Duck Double.

“The Shearwater is an eye-catching, light and fast cruiser that does many things well. It is a strong contender for the budget-minded paddler looking to answer the ‘if I could only have one kayak’ question.” -from Sea Kayaker’s October 2006 review of the Shearwater 17.

Stitch-and-glue sea kayak design has grown up a lot in the last fifteen years, driven by enthusiastic paddlers who prefer ultralight, beautiful boats that handle like extensions of themselves. The Shearwater design abounds in interesting and innovative features. To emphasize the clean lines, the decks are computer cut from sapele plywood, a beautiful mahogany with a reddish-brown swirling grain, to contrast with the honey-colored okoume sides and bottoms. Flush hatches are standard. Veteran stitch-and-glue builders will find notable tweaks in the Shearwater kits, including CNC-cut “finger joints” instead of the more typical scarf joints. The finger joints eliminate the alignment step required of scarf joints, so parts are quicker to assemble and impossible to misalign. Another luxury in the Shearwater kits is that 99% of the holes for the wire stitches have been drilled for you by their CNC machine. This means faster assembly and no measuring for bulkhead locations, as those holes are drilled, too.

The Wood Ducks are among their easiest-to-build kits. Panels are precision-cut on their computerized equipment, with puzzle-joints and pre-drilled stitching holes for fast and accurate assembly. Sheathed in fiberglass inside and out, the Wood Duck will withstand real-world abuse on gravel or shell beaches and will bounce over submerged stumps without harm. Capacity is ample and meant to accommodate a broad range of paddlers. Cockpits are 38 inches long, for easy in and out, and your legs and knees will not be confined. The Wood Duck 10 will carry paddlers up to 200 pounds, and the Wood Duck 12 will easily handle a 275-pounder, plus gear.

The Northwest Maritime Center is excited to partner with Chesapeake Light Craft to offer four unique boat-building workshops. Since 1994, CLC boatbuilding classes have launched more than a thousand boats and introduced countless men, women, and children to the joys of boatbuilding. Talented professional instructors will help you assemble your own boat from start to finish. These classes will be held over the course of 7 to 9 days—a perfect one-week vacation with your own boat to take home, ready for finish work.

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Build Your Own Skerry for Sail and Row—by Chesapeake Light Craft

Sept 19–25 last day to register is August 19
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | Kit Cost: Base Kit Price $1759, Sprit Rig $1279, Gunter Sloop Rig- $1469, Lug Rig w/ Reef $1399 | Tuition: $825, $775 member

In this seven-day class, students will have the opportunity to construct this beautiful double-ender that makes a great craft for both row and sail.

The flaring sides make the Skerry stable and dry under sail. The stock sprit rig was chosen because it’s easy to set up and handle, powerful for its size, and stows inside the hull for transport. Windward performance is excellent. The boom is out of the way of the crew—no bonked heads—and the boat can be rowed with the sail up. This is such an important and practical feature for small boat handling that it’s bizarre not to find it in more smallcraft. Under oars, the Skerry has a long, easy glide and excellent tracking. Two rowing positions permit the Skerry to be rowed with one, two, or three adults on board. Ultralight weight—about a hundred pounds—also means the Skerry is easy to handle ashore. Given a heavier car, good quality roof racks, and two average adults, the Skerry can be cartopped with ease. Or, if you use the boat by yourself most of the time, the lightest, simplest boat trailer or dolly will work.

The Skerry is a plywood-epoxy composite boat, assembled using Chesapeake Light Craft’s exclusive LapStitch™ technique. The sides are 6mm Okoume, while the bottom is 9mm, sheathed with fiberglass for those hard beach landings. The interior includes 9mm okoume frames and sealed air tanks at the bow and stern for buoyancy. The matrix of high-quality plywood and marine epoxy allows great strength and a glossy finish. To build a Skerry, all you need is a pair of sawhorses and a warm place for a shop. No mold, no lofting, and no odd tools beyond a couple of sharp planes, a drill, a bucket of C-clamps, and a sander.

The daggerboard trunk is included in, and integral to, the “base model” rowing kit. Thus all builders can add the sailing rig from the start, or at some point in the future.

An option that is gaining in popularity is a larger gunter-sloop rig. The rig is that of the well-tested Passagemaker dinghy, comprising a 58 square foot mainsail and a 19 square foot jib. This will be a fast and weatherly option and is intended for sailors for whom speed is of paramount importance. The mast is aluminum, supported by three stainless steel shrouds, while the boom and yard are wooden. The sloop rig can be added at any time or retrofitted to an existing Skerry. A balanced lug rig is also popular and works with the sprit’s stock mast step; the lug sail includes reef points as of Nov 2015.

The Skerry measures 15’0″ overall and 4’6″ wide. Draft is 5″, or with the daggerboard down, 30″. The rudder kicks up easily for beach landings and has the traditional Scandinavian push-pull control rather than the more typical tiller. Everyone who has ever spent time in a Skerry has lauded the push-pull tiller as it opens up the interior for flexible seating, whereas a traditional tiller severely limits the seating positions.

The Northwest Maritime Center is excited to partner with Chesapeake Light Craft to offer four unique boat-building workshops. Since 1994, CLC boatbuilding classes have launched more than a thousand boats and introduced countless men, women, and children to the joys of boatbuilding. Talented professional instructors will help you assemble your own boat from start to finish. These classes will be held over the course of 7 to 9 days—a perfect one-week vacation with your own boat to take home, ready for finish work.

Register Now

Deck The Hulls With Boatshop Offcuts

December 10 & 11 last day to register is Day of
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (one hour for lunch) | $199

This is your chance to spend a weekend in the Boatshop learning the basics. We are offering this course as an opportunity for students to come into the Boatshop and start building foundational knowledge of all things shop—from safety to basic hand tools, power tools, joinery, gluing, clamping, and beyond. During the process, students will be able to complete multiple small projects of their choice including great holiday gifts such as cutting boards, toys, trinkets, apple boxes, hand tools, and more! This is a great opportunity to develop and refine your skills while working with instructors who are well-versed in woodworking.

A plethora of material will be available for students to choose from for their projects. Students are welcome to utilize the available tool resources here in the shop or bring along their own, if desired. Students are asked to provide their own Personal Protective Equipment, including an N95 mask, eye protection, and ear protection.

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Demystifying Marine Finish

February 26 & 27 last day to register is February 13
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM | $249

Join the Boatshop crew as we dive into a beautiful and always classic Haven 12 1/2 to show all the tricks of the trade when it comes to keeping your boat looking good and protected from the elements. Finish work can be very intimidating for a boat owner because there is such a large spectrum of different types of paints, oils, additives, and varnishes used to protect your vessel. In this two-day intensive, we will cover preparation, implementation, clean-up, and proper safety precautions—breaking down each with hands-on demonstrations. Students will leave with a new-found confidence and a checklist full of everything they need to know about finish work.

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Duckworks Boatshop Takeover

May 1–28 last day to register is April 1
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $539 per week or $1599 per month

Duckworks, the fine folks that brought you the Scamp, Scout, and Portage Pram, are taking over the shop and opening up the space for you, the builder. This is an open platform workshop that allows you to choose what to build while receiving professional guidance from the Boatshop manager, Joel Arrington.

Duckworks Boat Builders Supply is a small family business that has been helping boat builders (and others) with their needs for more than 20 years. Whether you’re starting from scratch or simply need new hardware, line, or other gear for an existing boat—Duckworks can help. They have boat plans from over 36 designers (and counting), from the smallest dinghy to ocean-going vessels. They can also help you with epoxy, fiberglass, paint, marine hardware, rope, tools and countless other gear. This is an enthusiast-run company—they’re out there messing about in boats, just like you! As a result, they offer proprietary designs and products.

Book by the week or join in for the whole month! Students will have the opportunity to book the time they need to complete the project they choose. Interested in joining the fun but need more help deciding what to build? Give us a call and we will help nail down the perfect project for you.

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Going Way Off the Grid: Harnessing Alternative Energy Sources on Your Boat

December 2 & 3 last day to register is day of
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $179

Join local marine systems expert Matt Steverson in a weekend course that will help streamline your systems to become less dependent on fossil fuels and more prepared to take advantage of alternative energies. At first glance, one may think: “Aren’t sailboats driven by the wind?” Anyone who has spent time on a sailboat knows that between generators, outboards, inboards, and batteries there are many energy consumers aboard. Building a system on your boat that allows you to harness the power of the wind, sun, and water will both reduce your carbon footprint and reduce costs. This class will start in the Boatshop with a lecture-style introduction to these systems and will be followed with on-boat demonstrations.

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Large Mast Construction

February 7–11 last day to register is February 1
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $399

Built in 1907 for San Francisco Yacht Club Commodore J. R. Hanify and named after his wife, Martha Fitzmaurice Hanify, Martha is a B.B. Crowninshield design built at W. F. Stone Boat Yard in San Francisco. Originally gaff rigged and now staysail rigged, she is 68’ on deck; 84’ sparred, 16’ beam, 8’ draft. Her planking is fir and silver bali on oak frames, and her interior is Honduran mahogany, graced with leaded glass cabinetry below decks.

Over the course of this winter season, the Schooner Martha crew will embark on the task of building a new main mast replacing the old. The new mast will be constructed of locally sourced Sitka spruce and will finish out at 84′ in length. This is an incredible opportunity for those that are interested in seeing how a large mast is constructed and to absorb knowledge from seasoned shipwrights. Students will have a week of hands-on experience working on the project while learning the construction process. Instruction will include construction methods, technique, tool building, hand tool use, and power tool use. Students will also have the chance to build a scale version of the same mast that will serve as the first step in building The Maiden of the Mast, a boat that will be constructed out of the retired western red cedar main mast.

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Marine Systems: A Lesson in Troubleshooting and Triage

November 11 & 12 last day to register is day of
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $179

A weekend course in everything that can go wrong in your boat and where to start fixing it. Join Matt Steverson, an experienced sailor and marine systems expert, in a course that gives students an overview of all the basic systems of a boat, how they work, and what to do when they don’t. Students will experience hands-on learning in both the classroom and in boats, with the end goal of taking some of the guessing out of how things work. Marine electrical, marine plumbing, steering and controls, hydraulics, heating, and propulsion are all topics that will be covered.

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Open Shop: An Introduction to Wooden Boat Joinery

July 1–3 last day to register is June 24
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $299

A weekend open shop platform that will serve as an introduction to wooden boat joinery. Whether aesthetic, structural, or both—all the parts of a wooden boat fit together in purposeful way. In this course, we aim to introduce the purpose and show the student to how all the parts of a wooden boat fit together through traditional joinery. Students will develop skills using hand and power tools, through demonstrations and guided projects, and will receive an in-depth tutorial on tool care and shop safety. Students are encouraged to bring their tool kit with them, but they also are welcome to utilize all the tool resources the shop has to offer. Upon completion of the three-day course, participants will have a beautiful mallet and bevel gauge to take home as well as a new set of skills to hone.

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Open Shop: Kids Boatbuilding

August 7, July 17 last day to register is day of
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM | $79

Kids of all ages are encouraged to attend this open shop opportunity that will allow them to build a model sailboat from a kit that they can then take home and show off. Students will work with Boatshop manager Joel Arrington to learn woodworking skills and gain an understanding of boat design and function. Upon completion, students will head down to the water for an afternoon launch party! The class includes all materials and personal protective equipment.

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Outboards: Maintenance, Care, and Troubleshooting

May 7 last day to register is day of
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $99

We’ve all been there—stranded. Whether at the dock or halfway across the straits, there is never a good time to experience outboard troubles. In this Saturday intensive, we will break down and demonstrate all the proper steps one can take to make sure that their outboard motor is in prime working order all season long. The class will be divided into four main topics: The Anatomy of an Outboard, Basic Start-Up and Operation, Troubleshooting, Proper Winterization and Storage. Each topic will be covered with live hands-on demonstration, both in the shop and on the water. This is an opportunity to utilize years of experience to ensure you have the right tools and knowledge to make the most out of your time on the water. Lunch will be provided.

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Spars, Paddles, Oars, and More

October 7–9 last day to register is October 1 
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (one hour for lunch) | $379

A crash course in how to make a square piece of wood round. This three-day course will walk participants through the process of laying out and shaping Spars, paddles, and oars. Students will receive demonstrations in both traditional and more contemporary building techniques while utilizing a number of hand and power tools. Students will have the choice of building set of oars, a pair of paddles, or a small solid spar to take home as well as build their own set of spar gauges to take home to continue mastering the craft. Students in the class will also have the opportunity to learn birdsmouth construction of a small mast that will be utilized as part of the Northwest Maritime Center’s Fleet. Students will need to provide their own personal protective equipment to include work gloves, eye, and ear protection. This class has a 3-student minimum.

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Spoon Carving

August 6 last day to register is August 1
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $179

Light the spark for a new hobby and help fill your galley with your own craft! Join Jesse Wiegel on the Boatshop commons to learn the basics of spoon carving with traditional tools and techniques. This 7-hour course includes a Morakniv carving set that you’ll get to keep, as well as all materials needed for the class and to take home. During the course, Jesse will demonstrate a plethora of different tools used in carving including the use of a shave horse and various hand tools that the beginner carver can aspire to. This class has a 3-student minimum.

Jesse is an Olympic Peninsula native, sailor, educator, and lover of wooden things. From instructing Outward Bound courses in foggy coastal Maine to setting square sails in the Baltic, one thing was ever-present: a trusty spoon.

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Strip Planked Boat Construction: Building the Maiden of the Mast

August 27–September 4 
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | $699

A strip-planked boat is built over lofted molds in which 1″x3/8″ strips are edge glued to produce the boat’s hull. Strip-planked construction is a modern take on traditional build techniques that produces a craft that is both strong and lightweight. In this course, students will utilize the beautiful, 120-year-old western red cedar that has served as the main mast for the Schooner Martha to build a Sid Skiff. The Sid Skiff designed by Port Townsend resident Ray Speck is an elegant traditionally lapstrake design that offers a great platform to row and sail. Students will work alongside shop manager Joel Arrington as well as the shipwrights from the Schooner Martha crew to construct the boat within eyeshot of Martha herself. Upon completion of the boat, The Maiden of the Mast will be on display at the Wooden Boat Festival in September.

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Boat Shop Space Rentals

Rent space in the shop for your next boat building project. Click here.

About Instructor Joel Arrington

Joel Arrington is just a southerner lost wandering through the west looking for water. Joel, originally from southwest Georgia started his westward migration with a ten year career as a fly-fishing guide and carpenter in Colorado. There, he developed his passion for being on the water and crafting with his hands but after a few too many subzero winter days he was ready for a new adventure and landed in Port Hadlock, Wa. where he attended to Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. This allowed him to channelize his passion for water and love of woodworking into a career building boats. As boat shop manager, Joel is ready and eager to help others delve into the wonderful world of boats and boatbuilding.