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kgruskin 07-03-2011 09:39 PM

How to Learn Boat Building in San Diego, suggestions, advice, etc. wanted
I have been interested in learning to build boats for quite some time but haven't had the time to seriously look into this until recently. Originally I thought seeing I'm in San Diego where there is such a large boating community that it would be somewhat easy to find resources such as classes I could sign up for or local boat builders where I could donate my time for for free in exchange to learn. Unfortunately from what I've found online this does not seem to be the case. As far as I can tell there really isn't anything in the area like this at all.

I'm hesitant to try learning from just books, but if this is what I have to do I will. It just seems that this will take much longer due to the mistakes I'll make along the way that an experienced builder could save me the time from making. With all of that said what I am looking to do is eventually build a sailboat of about 30' in length. I don't expect to be able to do this for quite sometime and plan to start small. I want to eventually build something that would be seaworthy with glass construction and high quality. High quality meaning high end materials and construction techniques that would produce a boat capable of sailing around CA, trips to Catalina and all around Mexico while having the confidence the boat can handle any conditions that a boat manufactured by Pearson, Tartan or the likes of C&C could handle.

If anyone has any suggested on any ways I could pick up knowledge on boat building and get started I'd greatly appreciate it. My first choice would be to work for free(I wouldn't turn down paid work) on my spare time to pick up the trade or as an apprentice. If this isn't possible here in San Diego I guess suggested reading and routes that others would recommend would be a good start. Traveling for extended periods of time isn't an option as I can't quit my full-time job to learn the trade.

deniseO30 07-03-2011 10:22 PM

Suggest you start here; The Ships Find out who are the key players and who is in charge of the maintaining the boats. You need to be pro active since maritime jobs are closely held within the trade. Hit the books by all means! You can learn so very much! Find a Marine museum that has a active boat building program. The dream of building your own boat is admirable but depending on your age not really practical. Also try your hand on small boat building in traditional construction. (keels, deadwood, timbers, (ribs) planks etc, ) I can say that I'm totally in love with everything about boat building! But, I'm way too far down the road of life to find any kind of employment or position in the maritime trades. If it's your passion.. make it happen!

kgruskin 07-03-2011 10:51 PM

I'm not looking for a career in boat building just to gain the knowledge. At 34 years old I don't think it is too late. Obviously it would have been better to learn while I lived around Annapolis over a summers in high school or college but I didn't have a desire then. The issue is finding any active boat building programs here in San Diego. I've looked but just haven't been able to find anything.

Any suggestions on good books to start with?

fryewe 07-04-2011 12:08 AM

Visit John Welsford's website and Duckworks. Good info at both on building small to medium size (19 ft) boats. Welsford boat builders have a Yahoo forum with a ton of info about building most of his models.

kgruskin 07-04-2011 12:39 AM

Thanks for the info. Does anyone have any experience using any of the boat designs. Some of the little powerboats look fun to build in terms of fun projects to gain experience as you move up in size.

15' Cracker Box - rear-cockpit speed

WDS123 07-04-2011 12:57 AM

Work for free ?

Come up to Corona, we'll teach you

kgruskin 07-04-2011 01:09 AM


Yeah, I would be willing to work for free. The only problem with that Corona is I work Monday through Friday in San Diego so I'd only be available early mornings or evenings during the week (Corona is too far to pick up a few hours at the beginning or end of each weekday) so that really only leaves the weekends. However I'm sure I could not go in on on a Mondays or Fridays every week if I made up the hours on any other day during the week. In exchange for the free labor I would want to learn how to build though.

I'm not in a position where the money part of this is really important. The education is what is valuable to me in this endeavor. That and possibly some warehouse space to build (not a requirement at all). If you are serious about the offer let me know and we can talk off-line about it or just PM me on here. My work schedule in San Diego is fairly flexible so maybe something could be worked out.

deniseO30 07-04-2011 07:57 AM

Did you even click on the Link I gave you?? Maritime Museum of San Diego Join and volunteer! With all the boats and ships they have there you SHOULD BE ABLE TO connect with a builder! Most of Glen L designs are nice but only few are offered for traditional construction. I suggest you study Gardner, Herreshof, and others to get a real handle on the way boats are built. It's very important to know about traditional building.

At 34 you may have your 30ft dream done when your around 50. Unless you work on it full time. The budget will be around $100,000 maybe another 60,000 to outfit the boat. but those are just conservative numbers.

PS; WD has made you a great offer I'd be on my way already!

WDS123 07-04-2011 09:14 AM

Factory work isn't for the faint of heart. We are now on summer hours 6am to 2:30pm with the occasional mandatory overtime. Less than 1/2 of new hires unfamiliar with factory work make it past 2 weeks.

new unskilled hires are put on grinding detail ( 8 hours a day ), once they master grinding they get moved up to molding and laminating, after that two different paths either detailing or assembly. A smart talented person with a good foundation might take 3 years to become a full assembly team member.

Assembly starts out as a parts runner, then moves up to a assi't installer, then to a jr. Installer, then to a team member.

Becoming a full fledged team member in the carpentry shop has fewer steps, but takes longer time. A ships carpenter is a skill that takes a very very long time to master, even in at a fiberglass boat builder.

Becoming lead in the rigging shop requires that 3 people ahead of you retire.2 are in their early 30s.

deniseO30 07-04-2011 09:20 AM

Sounds glamorous WD!

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