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Building Success at The Center for Wooden Boats one Kayak at a Time

August 14, 2012

Summer is marching on at The Center for Wooden Boats with more and more kids learning to sail, and some even learning to build their own kayaks.  It’s all part of the CWB Education Team’s efforts to make sure we have offerings that are of interest to all ages.

Last week, in addition to the normal all-day sailing classes, three students signed up for Youth Kayak Building taught by CWB Youth Program Coordinator Tyson Trudel.  Wyatt, Oliver, and Xi Wang all came on Monday morning, ready to work on their very own 14’ foot stitch and glue sea kayaks.

01 Really...this is going to become a boatThe students, ages 12 to 16, got the chance to lay out the pieces, drill holes that allowed them to assemble their boats with stitches. Following assembly, they covered the boats with protective layers of fiberglass, installed the deck and trimmed out the cockpit.  They also had to carve a kayak paddle.  At the end of the week came the moment of truth….carrying their lightweight craft down to the docks for the launch.

Tyson says it was a great leaning experience and the youth really liked how fast this building technique turned out to be.  They were amazed that the boats took shape as quickly as they did, but they also learned that working with fiberglass has its sticky drawbacks.  You have to sand it a lot to make the surface fair.

But on the plus side, they got to wear protective moon suits and take home their respirators to use to finish their boats.   07 2012 Youth Kayak Building Class Graduation day

Working in the CWB Pavilion taught them a little bit of what CWB regulars already know; you get stopped and asked a lot of questions by people visiting Lake Union Park when you are out building a boat in public.   Wyatt says the most asked questions were, in order, “Where can I get something to eat?” “Where can I park?” And finally, “what are you building?”

Answer: “Kayaks!”

The tough days were Monday and Tuesday, as Tyson says there is so much you have to get done on those days to get the boats in the water by Friday. “It’s  a ton of work….but also a ton of fun to see boats come together and kids to go home with their own kayak”, said Trudel.

And the summer fun at The Center for Wooden Boats is not over.  This week students who want to learn sailing….but also to stretch their minds…are enrolled in “Words on Water”.  That’s the course where CWB Youth Educators and students spend each day delving into maritime traditions through reading, sketching, journaling and sailing. The course introduces sailing skills covered in Intermediate Sailing (including sailing solo) and sparks the imagination through a diverse selection of maritime literature and writing exercises. The point, as you might have guessed, is to use books and boats to complement each other to inspire creativity, independence and adventure.

You’ll find more about all of CWB’s Youth and Adult classes in our online program catalogue at

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