Boatbuilding class in Cowichan Bay a hit

Maple Bay Elementary School students took part in a different kind of learning at the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre last fall.

Over six weeks, 12 students have embarked on a boat building project to make at 7.5 foot dinghy called a Polliwog.

In the process the children have been instructed by Tony Owen, facility manager at the Maritime Centre, with assistance from a handful of Cowichan Wooden Boat Society members who have been happy to volunteer their time and expertise.

Offering children’s boat building courses has been a long-time goal of the Wooden Boat Society. When Craig McLeod, vice principal at Maple Bay Elementary School inquired about involving his students in such a project, there was a resounding yes from the staff, the board of directors and society membership.

"It’s been very exciting to see the project fall into place," said Owen.

The children’s boat building course has been a win-win. The Maritime Centre has been able to realize its dream of involving children at the centre in this way, one that they hope to continue with other school groups in the future. The students have been fortunate, too.

They have had the chance to work with wood using hand tools, saws and other machines as they have progressed through the boat building process.

"Providing different opportunities and environments to learn in is important for children," McLeod said. "A hands-on opportunity like this is invaluable and,

for many of these kids, a once in a lifetime experience."

The partnership with Maple Bay Elementary includes a fee that was generously paid for by the Parent Advisory Council. The fee covers the materials, instructional time and, at the end of the course, the boat will belong to the school.

"We think we’ll be able to easily recoup the costs of the course by raffling the boat off when it is complete," said McLeod.

The Maritime Centre is looking to run another children’s boat building course in the New Year or early spring.

Sharon McLeod is the general manager of the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre. For more information call 250-746-4955 or email cwbs@classicboats. org