Voyage Filters

GRP Boat Repairs

Course price

Price per person



Embark Disembark Vessel DurationVoyage No
Mon 24-06-2024, 08:30Boat Building Academy Lyme Regis Fri 28-06-2024, 17:30Boat Building Academy Lyme Regis The Boat Building Academy 4 NightsBBA240624

Fixing boats, oars, surf boards – All good skills that will travel….

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.

Careerwise there are plenty of jobs in this field as the majority of racing and cruising yachts are GRP. If you want to travel the world then GRP repairs are the bread and butter income generators of many boatyards.

If you love dinghy sailing or surfing then you may find yourself doing GRP repairs or trying to match colours for gelcoat dings and repairs. Working with resins, glass reinforced fibres and materials like carbon are a significant part of any professional boatbuilding course, including the 40 week City & Guilds qualification at Lyme Regis.

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 the GRP skills are more brain than brawn. There are ratio mixes to get right, and critical timings for resins to set means it is all about planning and preparation.

This 5 day short course caters for anyone who can see the value of being able to repair or construct surfaces with GRP, design boats that will come from a mould, or impress with a perfect gel coat finish.

You do not need woodworking or existing GRP skills in order to book this rewarding practical course. It will also raise your awareness of the dangers of working with GRP resins and catalysts, and how to do it safely.

Course Content

  • working safely with polyester based resins and GRP
  • understanding mixes, pigments and catalysts
  • learning how to go from square to round
  • practical lessons in gel coat repair
  • how to colour match bigger repairs
  • repairing big holes with formers & temporary moulds
  • sea salt and wind through your hair during tea breaks on the seafront!

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

Students of the Boat building Academy

40 week students oct 2022 graduates and staff



Boat building and repairs using fibre based plastics covers a huge range of boat types from canoes and dinghies to superyachts. The composite boat hull most people are familiar with is GRP or glass reinforced fibre, but there are similar construction processes with carbon, kevlar, Dynel and even flax.

The white hulled sailing yachts you see in every marina are typically a hull created around a plug mold, with layers of fibre reinforcing bonded with plastic resin. The outer coat is gel coat and can be finished to a very smooth, shiney surface, creating a fast sailing boat with a hull that resists the worst effects of moisture and UV degradation.

Whether you are laying up a new hull or repairing one, there is a lot to learn about chemical bonding, mixes of catalysts, hardeners, how much filler, accelerators or thixotropic agents to add. Many of the chemicals are flammable and corrosive so learning from professionals in a controlled classroom setting is a good investment.

Maufacturers of GRP repair kits make it sound easy, but there are a lot of stages you need to get right for that pleasing finish.

Career boat builders who can work with GRP or more expensive options like kevlar will always be in demand at general repair boatyards, production yacht companies and the top end yacht design companies and cutting edge race boat developers.

The Background to the Courses

The Boat Building Academy is located on Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis so you are a stones throw from a beach full of fossils, spectacular Jurassic Coast cliffs and the famous Cobb Harbour. The college building has a real buzz to it. There are students there from all over the world. The majority are living on site and on a 40 week professional boat building course or 12 week furniture making course. They may have started their career change path on a short course at the college, just like you.

You might like to combine this course with another and save 5% on course fees. See the voyage description for combination suggestions.

There is no upper age limit or skill requirement to join a short course or the longer courses. Accommodation is not included but plenty of options locally.

Even if it is just a dream at the moment, if the 40 week professional boat building course appeals to you, then trying a short course is probably the best way to investigate if this major commitment would be a life changer for you. Whilst you are on a short course, the breaks are a great time to quiz the residential students and lecturers about their career paths and dreams and how they are finding their longer courses. There are a small number of bursaries towards the costs for the professional courses now the Boat Building Academy is a charity.

Wild Boy and Leafy
Wild boy nearly reasy to launch

Start & End Port

Boat Building Academy Lyme Regis

Colourblind sailor and jumped-up cook


‘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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