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Winter 2011 (Issue No. 50)




RUNABOUT:  Cedarville 26.5
The C26.5 is a modern interpretation of the classic lapstrake runabouts, once common on American lakes from upstate New York to Wisconsin, and beyond. This wood/epoxy constructed boat was designed by Michel Berryer of Van Dam Custom Boats in Boyne City, Michigan, to be the project boat for the "Career Boat Building Course", attended by 2nd year students.

Specifications include:

Cold-molded hull with 1 1/2" bottom and 1/2" marine plywood lapstrake hull
Sapele brightwork
Port Orford and Sapele sole
Port Orford ceiling
300 HP Mercury V8 engine with Borg Warner V-drive transmission
Hydraulic steering
Available summer 2011.

(Boat details above are from the December 2010 issue of Stem2Stern, the GLBBS newsletter.)


SAILBOAT:  Gartside Cutter
Paul Gartside has designed several of these Falmouth-inspired sail boats; this latest one is the smallest of the series and yet has the look of a much bigger boat. The traditional construction features a white oak backbone with white cedar planking on bent oak frames. The large, open cockpit will be a great place for some serious day-sailing or openboat cruising.

Specifications include:

LOA 19'
LWL 19' 2.5"
Beam 8'3"
Draft 3'6"
Rig Gaff Cutter
Disp 5200 lbs.
Power Yanmar 1gm
Available summer 2011.

(Boat details above are from the December 2010 issue of Stem2Stern, the GLBBS newsletter.)

BYB Commentary: Okay, in case any of you missed the timeline here, these folks went from an idea to welcoming their first students in just over 2 1/2 years. In between, they purchased land and built a facility. I don't know about you, but I've had "replace backyard fence" on my list of things to do for longer than that! I'd like to thank Bonnie Mikkelsen for submitting a great story, Adam Burks for providing photos, and David Wallace for bringing the GLBBS achievement to my attention. --David

Great Lakes Boat Building School (Cedarville, MI)


Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (Port Hadlock, WA)





OUR INCREDIBLE STORY by Bonnie S. Mikkelsen

In only five years, The Great Lakes Boat Building School went from just an exciting idea to the building of a handsome facility, a remarkable program, and to providing almost 40 students with exceptional skills in craftsmanship that will notably broaden their lives and enrich their career opportunities.

2005: While I was still living in the Seattle area, a good friend came to visit me in February for a brief R&R and to brainstorm opportunities to benefit our beloved Les Cheneaux area in Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula, and its towns of Hessel and Cedarville. Many parts of the Pacific Northwest's San Juan Islands & Olympic Peninsula are surprisingly similar. On our way to a lunch date in Port Townsend, it was suggested we meet beforehand at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in nearby Port Hadlock, WA. As we pulled up, we simultaneously had the same, spooky reaction... we felt we were back in Cedarville! Lo and behold, when we peeked through the doors, there was a student wearing a Michigan sweatshirt! Serendipity was happening at its best! He turned out to be Jim Hitchins, whose brother, Paul, owns a golf course in Hessel. Jim was there because he couldn't find a boat building school in the Great Lakes area. Ah, the light bulb went on!

We went right to work, contacting key persons who share the same passion for Les Cheneaux and its people. It took only a few months to pull together committed investors and a very enthusiastic steering committee with Paul Wilson and Bob A. Smith at its helm. They and their wives have played vital roles through the years with the acclaimed Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat Show and the maritime and arts communities of the area. In November, the four flew out to Seattle to visit the Northwest School of Boat Building to meet with key personnel and create a business plan. Major fundraising began, along with application for 501(c)3 status, and a property search.

2006: The steering committee was dissolved in January to form the Board of Directors. By-laws and a mission statement were written, and the school's logo designed. In May, board member Dave Lesh was appointed executive director, setting up a temporary office in Hessel to formulate a marketing and fundraising plan, and to seek architectural bids. The Architect Forum in Mackinaw City was contracted in June to design a building that would complement the unique local character of the historic boat workshops and boathouses that dot the islands. Ideal waterfront property, with housing for administration and staff, was purchased in September. Ground-breaking took place on Monday, November 27, a very cold, blustery, but enormously exciting day.

2007: In January, after an extensive search, Patrick Mahon, a master boat builder and highly regarded instructor, joined the school as Program Director. He developed the 9-month program, and student recruitment began. The new facility was completed in time for its dedication on August 4th in honor of the Noyes family, summer residents since the late 1800s who were most instrumental in the success of the fund raising. Over 120 contributors and friends attended the celebration. Two weeks of free boat building workshops were held the end of that summer, giving the community a preview of what was to come.

In September, the School received its Michigan State proprietary school license. Two weeks later, the doors officially opened to seven full-time students to commence the school's first 9-month vocational program. Along with learning the basics of joinery and lofting, the planning and building of projects began, which included a rowing skiff and a 21' plank-on-frame electric launch designed by Great Lakes boat designer, Nelson Zimmer, to extend into the 2nd year program.

In October, North Central Michigan College's Board of Trustees unanimously approved an articulation agreement with the Boat School to establish an associate degree in wooden boat building as part of their Applied Science Degree program.

2008 -- 2010: Early 2008, work began on a wood composite sailboat that was specifically designed for the handicapped sailing program at Challenge Mountain, based in Boyne City, Michigan. The School was already gaining a strong reputation in the industry. By June's graduation, the class had learned basic woodworking, shop safety, and various boatbuilding techniques that included modern wooden composite construction... all skills highly sought in the marketplace.

Over the summer, guest instructor David Nichols, well-known boat designer and builder, author and video producer, oversaw recreational boat building workshops. The 1-day to 2-week courses ranged from paddle making, lofting, wood carving, to constructing rowing skiffs, kayaks, and cedar stripped canoes.

In September, along with eight new students, Adam Burks, a Michigan native and boat shop owner, came onboard as a full-time instructor. This year's program included building two flat-bottom lapstrake skiffs, completing the hull and decks of the Challenge Mountain boat, the hull of a 19' Atkin launch, and finishing the Zimmer launch. Graduation Day in June '09 was celebrated with the champagne launching of the Zimmer into Cedarville Bay... a beautiful day, a beautiful boat, a beaming class.

A variety of summer workshops again kept the shop busy. In September, with the introduction of a Career Boat Building program for 2nd-year students, 16 full-time students were welcomed! With final approval by the State for sale of boats by a not-for-profit school, the new program for advanced students focused on the sophisticated construction of a 27-foot power boat designed specifically for the School by nationally recognized Steve Van Dam of Boyne City. First-year students built two skiffs, finished the Atkin Launch, built the plank-on-frame hull for a 19' fixed keel sailboat, and a 15' composite boat designed by Ken Workinger of Tiara Yacht.

This fall, our first international student was welcomed into the program. Primarily due to the Homeland Security Act, it took a year of seemingly endless paperwork on both ends for him to attain his visa, but the experience now facilitates the entry for a number of foreign students who have shown considerable interest. Our students tell us that they chose GLBBS because: 1) it has the most comprehensive program between traditional and composite boat building; 2) its top-notch instructors; 3) its state-of-the-art facility; 4) its reasonable tuition and location in an area that not only has a much lower cost of living but wonderful, outdoor recreational opportunities.



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