Spaulding Marine Center’s Boatworks 101 apprenticeship program launched on Monday, August 16, with six apprentices aged between 17 and 30 donning their jackets for the 15-month-long program. Using the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) syllabus for marine technicians as its core platform, the program consists of nine months’ instruction with Spaulding and six months’ rotation through Bay Area boat-servicing businesses.
“We have a great group of apprentices,” education director and program facilitator Jay Grant said. “They’re all new to the industry and very enthusiastic.”
In their first week, the apprentices were schooled in a series of basic but essential skills and techniques. Starting with shop and yard safety, they learned the industry’s own specific nomenclature, practiced everything from marine knots to maneuvering boats at the dock, and were hands-on in learning about hauling and securing boats in the yard before moving on to water blasting, sanding, and painting boat bottoms.
At other times throughout the week the group of future technicians was given instruction in woodworking and the proper and safe use of the numerous tools used in wood joinery.
As with all studies, field trips are an important part of learning. On day four the apprentices toured local marine businesses, KKMI in Richmond and Helmut’s Marine Service in San Rafael.
KKMI’s Paul Kaplan is thrilled with the Boatworks 101 program, which he says is long overdue. “It’s much, much needed for the West Coast boating community,” Kaplan said, adding, “though better late than never.”
A large part of Kaplan’s enthusiasm for the program is based on the apprentices themselves.
“It was delightful to see their faces as they realized they could develop a profession that they could continue their whole lives. Even as the market cycles.”
“I love the diversity of the program and the participants. Targeting young people who might be disadvantaged, who are not in mainstream boating.”
KKMI is one of the Bay Area businesses that will take on the apprentices for their six months of work experience next year.
Although the apprentices are only in their first two weeks of the program, they have already learned a great deal, and both the students and the facilitators are looking forward to the coming months during which they will learn about marine electrical systems and electronics, plumbing, diesel engines and outboard motors, and more.
“I’m really happy to see how this is evolving,” Kaplan added.