"The amount of input apprentices have in directing their own education at the Apprenticeshop is a truly unique and valuable opportunity. Ultimately, I am responsible for how much I learn here."
~ Josh Anderson, Graduate, 2-Year Program


In the Shop environment there are no classes, no grades, and no homework.  Each apprentice has his or her own style of learning and pace at which to work, and we encourage apprentices to approach problems differently. Because of this method of apprenticing, there will not be anyone to walk you through each step of building a boat. Instead, there will always be someone to answer your questions about any step of the boatbuilding process or woodworking in general.

There are no silly questions. We encourage asking whatever you need to know either from your instructor, your project partners, a more senior apprentice, or an alumnus. In boatbuilding there is hardly ever one way to do something, but most often you will find great delight in discovering the little tricks of the trade that make the complicated suddenly become easy.  Very often your question may be answered by a question, then a discussion, and in the end, we may have discovered a new way to solve a problem together.

Apprentices study intensely with us for the majority of two years, often spending more than 40 hours per week in the Shop. With the exception of 7 vacation weeks (3 weeks for winter holiday in December and January, 1 week in spring (late March, early April) and 3 weeks after summer launches in June), apprentices are in the Shop building boats year-round. An apprenticeship is completed when participants finish their final project. Sometimes an apprenticeship will be slightly longer than two years, sometimes slightly shorter, depending on the individual schedule of boat projects in the Shop, but most apprentices will leave with a final completion.


After the orientation period, where new apprentices are familiarized with the tools, safety guidelines, and operating systems specific to the Shop, each apprentice will begin to build a 12-foot, flat-bottomed Susan Skiff that provides an excellent platform for learning the basics of boatbuilding that they will need for the remainder of their apprenticeships. Although the duration of the Susan Skiff project may vary depending on incoming apprentices previous knowledge and skills and whether or not there are two new apprentices working together, the boat will take approximately 2 months. This time is dedicated to the beginner’s learning process, with direct instruction and guidance to get new builders started.

New boat projects can begin and end at any time of the year, depending on the contract and commission, or the availability of students to build the boat. Our shortest projects last only several months, while our longest can take a year or more. While we endeavor to have apprentices begin a project as a crew and finish together as a crew, there may be times when apprentices will join a crew in the middle of a project or rotate off a crew before completion as commissions necessitate.

All apprentices become well-versed in the following skills as they progress through their apprenticeship. Graduates of the 2-year program can expect to have a solid working knowledge of wooden boat construction, the use of hand and power tools, and seamanshipthat will allow them to confidently walk aboard a boat and set sail. The program consists of a total of 3,600 clock hours.


Seamanship is what sets The Apprenticeshop apart from other boatbuilding schools. Our participants learn to sail and row the boats that they build. We believe that the greatest builders are also confident mariners, and the greatest sailors can fix their craft at sea. Having the opportunity not only to build but also to sail traditional boats is a key component of our programs. Craftsmanship and seamanship are complimentary values for those who seek excellence in marine-related careers or lives on the water.

Once per week, both apprentices and Shop staff break from boatbuilding projects to participate in seamanship activities. During the sailing season (May - October) apprentices spend supervised time out on the water, learning different sailing techniques under the guidance of our Seamanship Director. On foul weather days and during winter months, seamanship moves indoors for navigation, knot tying, sail theory, marlinspike seamanship, weather, safety, rules of the road, and more.
The sailing season includes at least one multi-day expedition out on Penobscot Bay along with other opportunities to get out on the water. Local racing clubs are always looking for willing crew, and there are occasional offshore sailing opportunities delivering sea education vessels along the northeast coast.

Additionally, students tour midcoast boat yards, visit sail makers, maritime museums, and even model ship makers and traditional tool enthusiasts. Local boat builders and crafts people give demonstrations at the Shop on a variety of topics such as hand saw sharpening and log hewing. Apprentices may also have the opportunity for offsite training in skills such as wood turning and blacksmithing.


Apprentices begin their day at the Shop at 8 a.m., take an hour for lunch, and finish each day at 5 p.m. Every day begins with Morning Meeting, a time for everyone to come together as a community to make announcements and discuss community issues. We begin with a daily forecast and tide chart and conclude with an interesting reading, sometimes boat-related, sometimes completely off-topic. Apprentices alternate leading morning meeting each week. The remainder of each day is devoted to time working on boats. One morning or afternoon each week is dedicated to seamanship.

Although regular shop hours allow a good amount of building time, apprentices usually want or need to stay late and come in on weekends to work on their boats as well. As launches approach, crews work out overtime schedules to assure that the boats meet their launch dates.

Fridays begin as a regular day, and after Community Lunch we reconvene for Friday Walkaround, an open forum where each crew shares what they have learned during the week, other crews ask questions about construction styles specific to that project, and everyone discusses their project in detail.


Year One Tuition: $18,000
Year Two Tuition: $  9,000

Scholarships and Financing Options Available. Inquire today.

Proof of enrollment in the FACTS tuition payment plan, VA benefit compensation plan, or other loan program by the due date is acceptable.

The Apprentice Program is approved for VA educational assistance benefits by the Maine State Approving Agency for Veteran’s Education Programs, including GI Bill® and Vocational Rehabilitation programs. Consideration is given to those with prior credits or work experience.  For more information, please call us at 207-594-1800 or email Kevin Carney, Shop Director.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

2-Year Boatbuilding participants are responsible for the following expenses in addition to tuition:
< Personal tools and reference books
< Food, housing*, transportation
< Other living expenses
< Cost of health insurance for the duration of the program.

* The Apprenticeshop is committed to helping find housing for all 2-year apprentices.

Download the 2016 Traditional Boatbuilding Catalog here.