And a Month Later...

By Alice Chang


I’m Alice.

I came to The Apprenticeshop in late January, ostensibly to build a boat. I mean, I am building a boat, but that’s not what this is really about for me.

I grew up in a great sailing city, San Francisco, but I never knew anyone who thought about boats, let alone had one. And although I’ve always liked boats, I haven’t had much experience with them. I’m here, I think, because I wanted to make something. I didn’t necessarily need it to be a whole boat, but heck, why not? Build a boat in 12 weeks. Sure, I can do that. Well, I can try.

Alice 1.jpg

My Susan Skiff

Four of those weeks are over now and this is what I have to show for them.

I’ve got the front bit (the stem) and the back bit (the transom) and some structural middle bits (chines and keelson) all in place. Note: Because I’m only here for 12 weeks, I got set up with a skeleton I could build around. The new 2-year apprentices have to start out by lofting the boat (think drawing up architectural plans, but for boats) and building their strongback and molds.

It doesn’t seem much, to me, for a month’s worth of work. I’m told, though, that these first bits are some of the hardest because you’re trying to get things with angles to fit together. I’ve been asked several times about how much the experience here has differed from my expectations going in, and I’ve always replied that I didn’t know enough about what building a boat involved to really have any expectations beyond that there would be lots of wood and probably some saws? But I guess I’ll say this: I did not expect geometry. I should have paid more attention in math class.