Boat building

2024: Classic Sailing’s Year of Skills! It’s not just sailing, you know!

Throughout 2024, we’re shining the spotlight on the various ways our customers get more with a Classic Sailing booking.

There are many physical and intellectual skills you gain onboard our ships. Like line handling, helming and navigation, and soft skills such as team building and leadership. Perhaps you would like to get hands-on with the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tasks that are performed on a daily basis? Such as passage planning, sail repair or engine checks? Between the team here at Classic Sailing and our sailing partners, we have a lot of skills to share!

This week we’ll stay ashore – did you know along with sailing voyages, we also offer a wide variety of courses? From RYA qualification, small boat handling and boat building courses plus lots more, we have something for everyone!

The Boat Building Academy, Lyme Regis

A couple of years ago, we formed a partnership with our friends at the Boat Building Academy (BBA). (If you put Boat Building Academy in our ‘search’ box under voyages, you can see all the BBA courses.)

BBA’s 40-week boat building courses
BBA’s shorter boat building/boat skills courses

The Boat Building Academy is located on Monmouth Beach in Lyme Regis, only a stones throw from the famous Cobb harbour and fossil beaches. This internationally renowned boat building school, runs a flagship 40 week course for those who want to reach a professional level in Boatbuilding. There is a great vibe in the workshops and it is hard to imagine a more salty spot to learn new skills, without going to sea!

The BBA offers everything from 40-week, career-changing boat building courses to short ‘skills’ courses. These include sail making, ropework and GRP repair. They’re great for people who want to learn the basics, or improve on their existing boatbuilding and woodwork skills but can’t commit to the full course. And with bursaries available, the BBA really does encourage everyone to get involved.

Do check out our BBA Bursary page!

In the article below we’ll summarise some of the courses on offer. They also make great gifts – see our Gift Vouchers page here. (Yes, you can use any Classic Sailing gift voucher towards a BBA course too!)

Boat Building Academy

Workshop Based (practical) Courses


Wooden Boat Restoration (5-day) A five-day melting pot of traditional and modern techniques. Practical activities include tool sharpening, timber preparation, scarfing, gluing, removal and refitting of planks, riveting and steam bending. Time permitting you will refit internal components (e.g. thwarts, risers and knees). There may be an opportunity to bring your own boat for the group to work on. Please get in touch for details. (Please see the second date for the Wooden Boat Restoration (5day) course here, too)

Traditional Wooden Boat Building – Clinker & Carvel (5-day) – Gain insight and practical experience of the construction of carvel and clinker craft. This is traditional boatbuilding so if you want to use planes, chisels, experience the noisy banging of fastening planks with copper nails and roves then this is a course designed to get you hooked.

40-Week Boat Building Courses (inc. City & Guilds Qualification) – Looking for the next challenge? What better time to retrain for a new career? Want to become a craftsperson with a raft of new practical skills? The 40 week Boat Building course starting in March or August each year – build a solid skills base to modern City & Guilds trade qualification standards. Previous students have built a small fleet of 10-20ft boats from lofting to launch during the course!


Women’s Woodwork Workshop (5-day) – For any women wanting to try woodworking for the first time, or put a bit of finesse on existing practical skills. If you want to be able to pick up a saw, chisel or drill with confidence, and fix and make things functional and beautiful with wood then this could take you to a different level. Learn woodworking in an inclusive and relaxed environment with boat builder Amy Stringfellow.

Other Skills

Sail Making (Both Traditional (3-day) and Modern (5-day) sails) – Learn how to use a sail making sewing machine that can punch through several thick canvas layers or modern sail materials in tan and cream that look like canvas. Machines used are portable, but heavy duty sewing machines that could be used on board a yacht or at home. Learn how to cut sails to put 3D shape into them. Create strengthening panels on the load bearing corners. Add reefing points, edge tapes, leech-lines and how to put in eyelets and grommets. Learn how to patch and repair sails.

Ropework for Boats (2-day) – Learn ropework techniques using three strand, double and single braid ropes. Learn whipping, splicing and how to make rope grommets. There is a lot more to it than you think. Age old skills like making a rope grommet to hold a block, are now used in high performance racing yachts with modern ropes like dyneema, so the block can twist.

GRP Boat Repairs (5-day) – Start with the basics of working safely with polyester-based glass reinforced plastic (GRP) and understand the functions of components (e.g. resin, catalyst, pigments). Tackle practical hands-on activities from gel coat repairs and colour matching to larger hull repairs requiring temporary moulds and formers. The Boat Building Academy has a dedicated classroom for GRP work with ventilation and there a quite a few polishing and sanding skills that can be done in the courtyard or out on the seafront in the sun.

Classroom Based (non-practical) Courses

Introduction to Boat Building (2-day) – Introductory course looks at how boats are shaped and why, explains the terminology and compares the construction methods you can use to build curvy, sexy boats – whether you are interested in motorboats, sail boats or the simplicity of rowing your own boat. Find out the pros and cons of traditional solid wood skills, laminates and modern materials and techniques. This is a classroom based course covering a huge subject matter, but you are surrounded by real life boat building projects going on around you in this historic building. Workshop walkabouts with your tutor and strolls to the harbour and Cornish Pilot Gig shed mean legs are regularly stretched.

Marketing Assistant, Tall Ship Sailor & Co-Host of the Off Watch Podcast

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