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Oar & Paddle Making Course

Course price

Price per person



Embark Disembark Vessel DurationVoyage No
Mon 08-08-2022, 09:00Boat Building Academy Lyme Regis Fri 12-08-2022, 16:00Boat Building Academy Lyme Regis The Boat Building Academy 4 NightsBBA220822

Hand made oars are beautiful

Do you have a favourite rowing boat that needs some new oars? Perhaps you have always fancied a wooden kayak paddle, or to stand out from the crowd with a custom made SUP paddle? Shaping an oar is a mix of age old techniques and wood sculpture. There are patterns and tricks to it and progress can be fast enough to complete a pair of oars in the 5 days. The techniques to turn a square glued up section into a rounded and tapered loom is similar to making masts and spars.

On this course you will learn various oar construction methods i.e. hollow or solid looms (the long bit) and how to shape the blades and looms. Hand tools include block planes and spoke shaves. Scooping out a blade requires a bollow plane.

Make your own pair of oars or a paddle to take away for the cost of the materials. If you have any specific requirements you can talk to the college before you commit to paying for your booking.

There is no upper age limit or skill requirement to join the course, all we ask for is a mature attitude, motivation, and dedication to the training.

  • Voyage
  • Vessel

Any age or gender

There is no upper age limit and most work on your oar is a workbench height. The physical shaping is with hand tools so standing is easiest.

This 5 day short course caters for both keen woodworkers wanting to learn specific skills, or anyone looking for an interesting new hobby or creative challenge.

You might want to see if you have the potential talent to use woodworking skills for a career change or business, or just come for fun. You do not need woodworking skills in order to book this rewarding practical course.

Course Content

  • looking at oar designs
  • glueing your oar loom and blade
  • learning how to go from square to round
  • shaping the blade in 3 dimensions
  • handles and oar blade tips
  • leathers

The Boat Building Academy

Vessel type / Rig Educational Establishment
Guest Berths 18
Beam Workshops
Draft Two Story
Deck Length Shorter
Overall Length Long
Year Built 1997
More about the Vessel

Voyage Description

Boat Building Academy

Ribs and Rivets




The 40 week Boat Building, Maintenance and Support course, incorporating City & Guilds 2463 Level 3 Diploma in Marine Construction, Systems Engineering and Maintenance (the technical certificate of an apprenticeship) is our flagship course.  It gives students the skills to find jobs in the marine industry or establish themselves as boat builders in their own right, although some students join the course for a sabbatical or on retirement and have no plans to work in the marine industry.

No Age or Gender limitations

There is no upper age limit and the course caters to those changing career (at whatever age) as well as the school leaver.  You do not need woodworking skills in order to apply (everyone starts from the same point – the beginning) but a mature attitude, motivation, a high level of commitment and willingness to pursue the highest standards are vital.


The syllabus goes way beyond the requirements of the City & Guilds qualification, giving comprehensive practical instruction covering traditional and modern wood construction methods and composites, as well as allied skills (e.g. wooden boat restoration and oar making).

At the beginning of each course there is a group discussion between students, instructors, the Training Manager, and the Principal about what boats will be built by the group.  The builds will cover a range of construction methods and be up to a maximum of 16 foot in length (although exceptions are made, depending on workshop space and other boats being built). Some students may prefer to concentrate on one build, but all students are required to work on the whole range of craft in order to get as much practical experience of different boat building techniques as possible.

The combination of the City & Guilds qualification and building a range of boats chosen for their educational value is unique to the Academy.  If you are considering joining the course you should be aware that the training is intensive and demanding, requiring a high level of commitment.  Due to the small size of our school and high instructor to student ratio we take only eighteen students on each ‘long’ course. Each course is allocated two instructors who spend a minimum of forty hours a week with their group.

Build your own boat

During the first phase of the course you will learn about and discuss the type and size of boat you can build for yourself. It has to be small enough to be built in the time allowed and sufficiently interesting to make it a worthwhile project.  Students submit to the BBA the type and size of boat they would like to build, remember you have to pay for the materials yourself. The BBA then decide which boats will be built taking into account they need for a variety of boat types and construction techniques to provide the range of learning you as a student will need to experience.

About 6 – 8 boats are built per course, to browse the range of boats built at the Academy see the Gallery.

Course dates

There are two start dates per year and we allocate places to students on a first-come-first-served basis on receipt of a completed application form. Dates for the next courses are:

14th March 2022- 16th December 2022

22 August 2022 – 9th June 2023




Included in the fee are materials, including those for a plastic model boat, clinker section, laminated stem, bollow plane, joints and a 7ft oar that you make during the foundation phase of the course.  These are yours to take home. The only extras are for the materials of items you choose to take away with you; a toolbox, another oar and (last but not least) a boat. We receive good discounts from our suppliers and discounts are given to you.

Living accommodation is not included but there are a variety of options, including living on site for some. Affordable hot lunches are cooked on site by the amazing Wendy on most weekdays. The college parking area right outside on the Lyme Regis seafront is an asset in this busy seaside resort.

Course Content

40 Week Boat Building Course Prospectus

The ‘long’ course commences with a six week joinery foundation course.  Once people have their joinery skills in place the syllabus covers the following skill areas:

  • Lofting
  • Traditional Boatbuilding
  • Modern Wooden Boatbuilding
  • Fibre Reinforced Plastic Boatbuilding and Fit Out
  • Yacht Joinery
  • Spar and Oar Making
  • Engine Beds and Stern Tubes
  • Finishing Coatings and Compounds
  • Rigging, Chandlery and Cordage
  • Sail Making and Repair
  • Marine Systems (Five days at Rob Perry Marine, a marine engineering company ten minutes from the Academy. An RYA ‘Diesel Engine’ certificate and Rob Perry Marine certificate are awarded on successful conclusion of the week).

Groups move from the upstairs workshop and become the ‘downstairs’ group in the main workshop after three months.  It is at this stage that they start building their group boats.

During the first phase of the course you will learn about and discuss the type and size of boat you can build for yourself. It has to be small enough to be built in the time allowed and sufficiently interesting to make it a worthwhile project.  Students submit to the BBA the type and size of boat they would like to build, remember you have to pay for the materials yourself. The BBA then decide which boats will be built taking into account they need for a variety of boat types and construction techniques to provide the range of learning you as a student will need to experience.

Boat Building Academy

Start & End Port

Boat Building Academy Lyme Regis


‘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

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

Vessel Gallery

The flagship 40 week Boat Building course teaches men and women how to build boats to industry standards.

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