Great Lakes Boat Building School

LEARNING CURVES…GLBBS Educational Objectives

By: Patrick Mahon, Education Director

GLBBS is a vocational school in the purest definition.  Vocation comes from the Latin word vocatio, meaning both an occupation for which one is trained and a calling or strong inclination to follow a particular activity.  At GLBBS, we value both types of students, which are now referred to as vocational and avocational students.  Vocational students are those seeking a job at the culmination of their instruction; whereas, avocational students are those seeking knowledge and skills for the pure enjoyment or passionate pursuit of such, rather than for employment purposes.  This dynamic mix at GLBBS affords a deeper and richer experience that sets it apart from other schools.

GLBBS exists to teach skills in fine woodworking and wooden boat building through hands-on instruction.  The curriculum for the 1st-year’s Classic Woodworking & Traditional Boat Building Program is carefully designed to give students a broad course of study in the methods and materials required of today’s fine woodworker and wooden boat builder.  Students begin by learning about traditional hand tools and simple joinery for practical applications.  They learn about power wood-working machines and use their cumulative skills to craft and finish a shipwright’s tool chest.  They learn lofting and construction processes required to build vessels in the traditional carvel and lapstrake methods.  They also work with modern techniques and materials used in the construction of wood/epoxy composite craft.

The curriculum for the 2nd-year’s Comprehensive Career Boat Building Program builds on the student’s repertoire of woodworking and boat building skills to construct and finish modern vessels.  Students advance their skills in yacht joinery and working with wood/epoxy composites.  Additionally, students learn boat repair and restoration techniques, as well as boat mechanical systems and marine electrical systems.

We, as the instructors, are able to deliver this curriculum not only because we believe are well-versed but we have a personal commitment to continually developing ourselves as craftsmen and teachers.  Thus, our graduates are prepared to continue the art and craft of fine woodworking and wooden boat building, whether through employment utilizing training-related skills, through ‘messing about’ with boats as a hobbyist, or establishing their own business.  They find a wide variety of opportunities in not only the boat building industry but in fine woodworking, including creating or restoring cabinetry, wooden furniture, and wooden instruments.