When you pull up to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, the first thing you notice is the smell – the salt air off Port Townsend Bay mixed with that of wood shavings.
Upon entering its buildings, you next notice is the craftsmanship on the shop floor. Planks carefully fitted. Coatings evenly applied. Wood planks being steamed to fit boat frames as instructors pass down age-old traditions to a new generation of boatbuilders.
It is those traditions – and a desire to marry those traditions with the needs of today’s maritime employers – that brought Craft3 and the School together in late 2017. One of the few-such trade schools in the United States, the School has long-offered twelve-month Associates Degrees in both traditional and contemporary boatbuilding. The curriculum wasn’t holistic, though. Maritime employers from around the region wanted graduates to also have knowledge of marine systems – electrical, plumbing, engines, hydraulics and engines.
Betsy Davis, the School’s Executive Director, knew the need had to be met, and soon attracted financial support from the Washington State Department of Commerce, foundations and individuals to develop a pilot marine systems curriculum. That’s when Craft3 stepped in to help round out the effort, providing a loan to help acquire training equipment and mock-ups for the students to practice on. Now, less than two years after the initial idea was hatched, a new six-month Marine Systems diploma program will launch this coming fall. And nearly every seat of the first cohort is already filled! Graduates will join Washington state’s maritime workforce, which is responsible for more than $30 billion in economic activity.
Craft3 makes investments to strengthen the resilience of our local economies, families and environment, and the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding meets all those criteria with its new Marine Systems Program. In many ways, it is a quintessential partnership for us, and the School is an institution we are incredibly proud to be affiliated with. The next time you’re in the area, we encourage you to stop by for a public tour (which are the first Friday of every month).