A unique challenge awaits families at the 28th annual WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport Museum this June. Since 2007, the Museum has partnered with WoodenBoat Publications to bring more dimensions of maritime heritage to the public. Along with the numerous vendors and presentation of wooden watercraft, the Family BoatBuild makes memories that last a lifetime.
WoodenBoat has been presenting the Family BoatBuild at their shows since the late 1990s and considers it to be one of the unique aspects of their shows. This project has been giving families — as well as business and civic groups — a rare opportunity to work together and achieve a truly beautiful result.
According to organizers, the concept is very simple; to provide instructors and a kit that can be built in two-and-a-half
days. The goal is to launch all the boats into the water midway through the third day of the show, weather permitting. No previous experience is required to take part in the event.
Expert builders will be available throughout the process to help participants achieve optimum results. Whether launched or not, boats will be ready to take home for a final epoxy coating and painting by the end of the event on Sunday, according to the organizers.
Laura Sherman, Advertising Manager for WoodenBoat Publications, said the Family BoatBuilding event began as a way to bring new people to boatbuilding and to boating in general.
“Carl Cramer, former Publisher of WoodenBoat magazine, wanted families to be able to build a boat to enjoy as a family in a weekend, and with the help of expert instruction. No experience is necessary, the kit producers are there to help you through the process,” said Sherman.
The kits should be pre-purchased through the WoodenBoat site. The boat kits are opened at 9 a.m. Friday morning and tools are put down around 3 p.m., Sunday. The organizers stated that in past years, most builds are completed, usually only requiring final finish work. The presenters hope to launch as many of these craft as possible on Sunday afternoon.
Graham Byrnes of B & B Yacht Designs of North Carolina, has been assisting on these builds for more than 10 years.
“The folks who participate have fun and at the end of the day they have a boat they can be proud of and actually use,” said Byrnes. “They will have the best people in the world to help them.”
According to Byrnes, the instructors can have a pretty busy weekend, but he finds the event can be an inspiration for families. “It can get a bit fast-paced and hectic, but we like the people so much.”
Justin Jamison participated in the event back in 2011 as part of a group exercise with coworkers from People’s United Bank.
“I think it’s a great experience for anyone. We actually did this as part of a team-building event. We were initially out of our element, but learned so much. To get everyone out of the office and build something was an incredible experience,” said Jamison.
“It was exhilarating. We were closer friends and teammates as a result. The skills we learned can be applied to other aspects of life too.”
Jamison and his family became so enamored of Mystic that they now make the show their primary family vacation.
“The Seaport is such an amazing venue. It was such a great experience. My children are almost at the age where they will really be able to enjoy the event. We are really looking forward to that.”
The three-day WoodenBoat Show will offer something for every enthusiast, maritime history buff or mariner. The number of craft anticipated for the show speaks tellingly of the popularity of these vessels and the appreciation of the unique talent that it requires to build them.
According to Mystic Seaport Museum organizers, a long list of vessels — large and small, old and new, power, sail, oar and paddle — will be on display, including cruising yachts, launches, runabouts, fishing boats, performance powerboats, daysailers, dinghies, rowboats, canoes, performance shells, multi-hulls, and racing boats.
Sherman said the WoodenBoat Show attracts about 13,000 visitors over the three days.
“Show admission gets you into Mystic Seaport Museum as well as The WoodenBoat Show — two attractions for the price of one,” said Sherman. “We also feature an exhibit called “I Built It Myself” where WoodenBoat magazine readers bring boats that they built themselves at home. The boat must not be for sale and must be built by an amateur builder.”
Mystic Seaport Museum grounds will also be filled with exhibit booths, where mariners can find the latest gear to outfit their vessel. Vendor offerings will include antiques, tools, maritime art, books, and other nautically themed items.
Visit mysticseaport.org for details on how your family can participate in the Family BoatBuilding event. The WoodenBoat Show runs daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, June 28 through Sunday, June 30.