‘I am a boat builder’.
When I heard about the BBA – only a few miles along the coast from Weymouth, I had to investigate. To be honest, when I visited, it all seemed wonderful, but so far from anything I’d ever done before that I didn’t know if it would be the right place for me, but then some friends offered to lend me half the fees, and I just couldn’t refuse their generosity.
Before the BBA, I’d never used a jigsaw, nor a plane or chisel, and I have almost no memory of woodworking class at school, however the instructors were so helpful and clear in their instruction that I quickly picked up the basic skills. Then came lofting, and my ever migraine, but it was still an amazing experience! I had been sailing off the West coast of Scotland before going to the BBA, and had fallen in love with the old wooden boats I’d seen, and wanted to work on something traditional, so it was great to be able to participate in the build of a 17′ 8″ clinker Pilchard Larker; an open working boat….
I feel very lucky to have been able to attend a school like the BBA, and then to go on and be employed by two of the world’s top luxury boat builders, without having any other previous experience in the industry. The BBA gave me a mass of skills (many of which I had never heard of before); a love of making things, and a career and a direction for my life. I may not be living on a boat yet, but when people ask me what I do, I can now confidently say; ‘I am a boat builder’.After the course Ben worked for Spirit Yachts and Sunseeker.
For me, attending the BBA was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The pace is massively intense and the teaching is very no nonsense with a commercial focus but it is up to each student to put as much in as they want to take away. I put in a massive amount and graduated with so much from a beautiful boat to a life changing career and some great friends. It is also great to still have a link with the BBA when I return to carry out our epoxy talks and see what other students are building with our products.
The full boat building course was an amazing experience, it challenged me both mentally and physically. When I began the course I had absolutely no wood working skills and by the end of the nine months at the BBA I was able to confidently work with wood and was the proud builder/owner of a 13′ larch on oak clinker rowing punt.
The course provided me with a range of practical skills that has enabled me to gain a foothold in the wooden boatbuilding industry and latterly has enabled me to be offered a three year funded PhD researching the Shetland Boat: its history; folklore and construction.
I left the BBA in December 2008 and I have been impressed by the continued encouragement and support the team have provided me. When in Lyme Regis I always enjoy popping-in for a welcoming chat and a cup of tea.” Marc’s boat ‘Defiant’ was centrepiece of the ‘Boats that Built Britain’ exhibition at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich that accompanied the BBC series of the same name.Information of Marc’s NMM exhibition appearance can be found on the National Maritime Museum website. Read his PHD blog here www.shetlandboat.wordpress.com
The 10 month course really appealed to me as I didn’t want to spend several years at college not earning. I wanted to be exposed to new tasks quickly and pick up the skills then move on to the next job. Sometimes in education you feel that the tutors are talking for the sake of talking. I never got that feeling at the BBA. They are all like minded people who have had to get things done as quickly and as easily as possible in the real world and want you to be able to do the same.
The second half of the course is mostly building boats from scratch. Whilst doing this you are learning all the time, even if you don’t realise it. You can be sanding for 5 hours but you have learned not to put so much filler on next time! Your personal progression is clear from the quality and speed at which you complete jobs as the course moves on. First time it might take a whole day, second time you might be finished by lunchtime and you wonder what took you so long before. Before you know it you are tackling something you would never have dreamed of doing and it turns out really well. Being immersed in the whole boat building environment and just walking around the workshop is a valuable experience each day. You can see how others have approached similar tasks and benefit from their mistakes and vice versa.
Your college has set the benchmark for the future of training craftsmen, which has long been the biggest worry of traditional boat builders and repairers. You deserve to go from strength to strength, and I for one will recommend it to anyone looking for a career in our industry.Tom Richardson, Owner of Elephant Boatyard, Hampshire
My visit to the Academy was truly inspirational. I found the energy and commitment of the staff to be second to none. Their dedication to their craft and the students, and their passion for excellence in design and technical skills, clearly explains the success rates that the Academy has, and the very high level of results achieved by the students. You truly are a centre for excellence in your field!Chris Humphries, then Director General of City & Guilds
I attended a three day Clinker Boat Maintenance and Repair Course some years ago. The knowledge has proven extremely useful. The skills I am still working on !Adam Purser, Director Classic Sailing