"Yachting" Magazine Editor Builds a Dory at The WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine

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Yachting's Deputy Editor Mary South recounts her first boatbuilding experience at the Brooklin, Maine WoodenBoat School during the summer of 2011

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“I was working with my hands and beauty was emerging. I was made dizzy by the seductive scent of cypress and buoyed by the thought of the school’s Friday night lobster bake. I was ready to move to Maine and make a go of this whole wooden boat thing.

Students at the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine come from many walks of life, and for many reasons. Some come to learn boatbuilding for the first time, others return year after year and alternate their experiences between building and seamanship offerings. For Mary South, deputy editor for Yachting magazine, the lure of wooden boats started a few years back when she happened aboard the motorsailer Burma in Newport, RI. The enthusiasm of Burma’s owners about the experience of wooden boats, and WoodenBoat magazine in particular, led Mary to sign up for a course at the WoodenBoat School earlier this summer. She chose to build a dory designed by Chesapeake Light Craft called the “Northeaster Dory,” a 17 ½ foot boat which would be constructed over 5 ½ days. As Mary recounts:

    “Looking at a finished dory on sawhorses outside the barn, and knowing my general skill level, that seemed highly unlikely. I had imagined myself capable of creating a shorter, squatter, uglier boat, maybe something with a flat bottom, but not this long, lean, elegant lapstrake craft…How was I going to build this?”

Yet, as the week rolled onward Mary surprised herself with her ever-increasing skill as five finished hulls actually emerged from the students’ (and instructor’s) efforts.

    “I was working with my hands and beauty was emerging. I was made dizzy by the seductive scent of cypress and buoyed by the thought of the school’s traditional Friday night lobster bake. I was ready to move to Maine and make a go of this whole wooden boat thing.”

The story ends well. Mary and her fellow students complete their boats to within another week’s finishing work (which is the goal of the course). New boatbuilders were born, promising to return next summer for more challenges. Go here to see and read more about Mary’s experiences.
This kind of experience happens every week at the WoodenBoat School, both on our waterfront and in our shop, to nearly 800 students each summer. Some call it a “wooden boat Mecca” and some call it “heaven” – we call it a way to learn some new life skills in an idyllic setting with like-minded souls. To learn more, contact Rich Hilsinger or Kim Patten at the WoodenBoat School, 207-359-4651 or visit our website http://www.thewoodenboatschool.com. Classes (over 100 different offerings) run from June 1st to September 30th, and course registration opens on January 1st.

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Michele Corbeil
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