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Boatworks 101 Apprenticeships Launched at Spaulding Marine Center

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.”

Apprentices in yard
From left, Ramani Ford, Ian Joyce, Elisabet Hermosillo, Gloria Loomis, Sydney Wewerka and Rashad Ford are the first apprentices to be put through Spaulding’s Boatworks 101 program.
© 2021 Spaulding Marine Center

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.

Boatworks 101
By the end of the program, the Boatworks 101 apprentices will have covered a broad scope of marine technical skills.
© 2021 Spaulding Marine Center

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.

Apprentices with saw horses
Working from scratch, the apprentices put their new joinery skills to good use and built their own saw horses.
© 2021 Spaulding Marine Center

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.”

Paul Kaplan (far right) gives the students a rundown of KKMI’s yard as part of their onsite visit.
© 2021 KKMI

“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.


  1. Ashley Knox Patton 3 years ago

    This! We need more of this especially here in Southern California. As a boat owner constantly chasing qualified technicians to help with the on-going maintenance and repair of our vessel, I know all to well that there is a shortage of educated helping hands. I have always thought that the industry itself needs to foster education opportunities and I am thrilled to read about this.

  2. milly Biller 3 years ago

    This sounds like a fantastic program, and especially the concept of the apprentices moving into the working yards of the Bay Area, and getting first hand experience. I came up through the boatyard, spending 30 years there and have applied every skill I learned there into a very useful skill set. Bravo !

  3. Memo Gidley 3 years ago

    Nice job Spaulding in creating this apprenticeship for aspiring boat builders and technicians!!!

  4. Valerie Joyce 3 years ago

    What a great opportunity for these young adults! Congratulations to my nephew, Ian Joyce.

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On the Outside Looking In
When Max Ebb was invited to judge at the "Classic Boat Review" he realized he was old enough to remember when those boats were still in production.