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by Steve Lansdowne - Austin, Texas - USA
& Frank Coletta - San Antonio, Texas - USA

... Sponsors Family Boat Building Class

In February 2013 the Texas Boatcrafters and Messers chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association (TSCA) , the San Antonio Sail and Power Squadron , and Duckworks Boat Builders Supply sponsored a family boat building class at the Woodcraft store in San Antonio. Woodcraft promoted the event as a class held at their location and also provided over-night storage, electricity, in-store coffee, and discounts on any items purchased by the participants during the class. Several TSCA members who were experienced amateur builders helped with planning, shopping, pre-cutting stock, and co-instructing during the event, while others helped out with photos and logistics. A few brought their own boats along to demonstrate the variety of small boats which are possible for home builders. A local television station provided some publicity through a mid-day visit which was screened on a newscast later that day.

Over this 3-day weekend each of six teams built a simple pirogue. Teams consisted of three married couples, a grandfather and young grandchildren, a father and adult son, and three friends. Most had some woodworking background though boat building was a new to them. Some were inspired to build for the experience, some to share skills with others, and some as a way of obtaining a relatively inexpensive boat rather than purchasing one which they were not sure beforehand they'd enjoy using. Certainly all gained some satisfaction of having built their very own boat and learned some new skills.

Rick Dawdy works with his grandson cutting and joining plywood on the first day.
Canopy covered workstations in the Woodcraft rear parking lot.  The green pirougue displayed in the foreground was a test build before the event.
Rick Dawdy his other grandson and his mother came out on day two.
Co-instructor Kent Rush guides a father and adult son team of builders.
Two friends discussing the next step. 
Proud boys with the boat they built.
Four of the six boats lined up on day 3.
Two new red boats and the green test build waiting to go in the water for the first time.
Event coordinator and instructor Frank Coletta presented a US Power Squadron Paddle Smart Seminar at Canyon Lake before the new boats were splashed. 
Students taking their boats on the maiden voyage under the watchful eye of instructor Frank Coletta.  It was a windy choppy day.  All boat did well and did not leak.

All of the first time boat builders said they very much enjoyed the experience and gave high marks on the class evaluations. Over the weekend several Woodcraft customers, some of whom were visiting from other states or countries, stopped by to watch. Some were quite interested in learning more about how to get started in boat building. Relevant web sites, magazines, books, and other instructional opportunities were shared by various co-instructors. Some of these visitors asked about taking this class if it is offered again, and Woodcraft asked us to come back to do another class. Clearly this event was a catalyst that inspired some to try building their own boats.

The following weekend students were invited to Canyon Lake to launch their new boats. Before the launch the San Antonio Sail and Power Squadron presented the US Power Squadron Paddle Smart Seminar designed to help these students learn safe boating practices.

The attached pictures show the progress on some of the boats at the end of the second day and the splash the following weekend. Time in the water was minimal due to the waves and weather conditions, but that didn't stop these proud builders from getting their bottoms wet!

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