One man’s transition to traditional boat building
Geoff Bowker tells us how the courses he took at Lyme Regis-based Boat Building Academy set him on course for a successful new career …
‘Having had a life around boats of all shapes and sizes, and with my Royal Navy (RN) commission coming to its natural end after 35 years, I was seeking a second career. I had a lifelong passion for woodworking and found myself at the Boat Building Academy at Lyme Regis, first on the one-week Traditional Boatbuilding course, using some resettlement allowance, and then on the 38-week Boat Building, Maintenance and Support course (this has now been extended into a 40-week course). I graduated in summer 2015 with a City & Guilds 2463 level 3 Diploma in Marine Construction, Systems Engineering and Maintenance, as well as the industry-wide recognised Boat Building Academy Certificate.
‘At the end of the course I found a workshop, amassed tools (old, antique hand tools are often better quality than new ones), arranged appropriate insurance and had some business cards printed. I started building an 8ft wooden boat for my own experience, which should have taken three to four months to complete. However, the distributed business cards and conversations with boat owners and marina operators generated work and the dinghy build stretched into a couple of years. Most of the jobs were carrying out repairs and restoration on wooden boats, both in my workshop and in local boat yards. My most interesting job was probably designing, making and installing a set of teak cockpit furniture in a fibreglass pleasure boat.
‘The BBA course was an extraordinary experience. It has given me a new career in wooden boats and woodworking, which I love.’
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