In the shop environment there are no classes, no grades, and no homework. Each apprentice has their own style of learning and pace, and we encourage apprentices to approach problems creatively. As in a traditional apprenticeship, there is no set of textbook steps for building a boat - but there will always be someone to answer your questions about woodworking techniques and the boatbuilding process.
There are no silly questions. We encourage open dialogue with your instructor, your project partners, more senior apprentices, and alumnus. In boatbuilding there is rarely a single correct way to do something, but you will soon find yourself approaching challenges with the flexible and creative problem-solving attitude that is particular to boat shops. Soon, the very complex starts to seem simple. Very often your questions will be answered with 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 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.


During orientation period, new apprentices are familiarized with the tools, safety guidelines, and operating systems specific to the Shop. Then, each apprentice will begin to build a 12-foot, flat-bottomed Susan Skiff. The skiffs provide an excellent platform for learning the basics of boatbuilding. Although the duration of the Susan Skiff project may vary depending on incoming apprentices’ previous knowledge and, the boat will take approximately two 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 apprentice availability. 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 and finish together as a crew, there may be times when apprentices will join in the middle of a project or rotate off before completion as commissions necessitate.
All apprentices become well versed in a broad range of 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 seamanship skills that will allow them to confidently walk aboard a boat and set sail. The program consists of a total of 3,600 clock hours.


Greater emphasis on seamanship sets The Apprenticeshop apart from other boatbuilding schools. Our participants learn to sail and row the boats that they build.  Craftsmanship and seamanship are complementary values for those who seek excellence in marine-related careers or lives on the water.
Once a week, 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. 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.
During winter months, seamanship is replaced with indoor Friday activities. Afternoons are focused on apprentice-led presentations covering a wide variety of topics including knot-tying, sail theory, navigation, weather, and boat handling. Additionally, students tour midcoast boat yards, visit sailmakers, maritime museums, model ship makers and traditional tool enthusiasts. Local boat builders and craftspeople 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 off site 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 to make announcements and discuss community issues. We begin with a daily forecast and tide chart and conclude with a reading. Apprentices alternate leading morning meeting each week. The remainder of each day is devoted to 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 may work overtime to assure that the boats meet their launch dates.
Friday mornings begin as usual. After Community Lunch, apprentices and instructors reconvene for Friday walk-around, an open forum where each crew shares what they have learned during the week, other crews have the opportunity to discuss and ask questions.


Tuition for year one is $9000.00, year two is $4500.00 for more information contact our admissions director laura@apprenticeshop.org

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.