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Wooden Boatbuilding, Navigation, Lumber Harvesting & Boatbuilding Apprentice Programs

ARQUES SCHOOLThe Arques School, in Sausalito, California, is a school dedicated to teaching the art of traditional wooden boatbuilding. It offers a full-year apprenticeship program and short courses in traditional wooden boatmaking and associated crafts. The Arques School teaches adults all aspects of traditional wooden boatbuilding, including design and lofting, timber harvesting, bronze casting, and all of the techniques of tool use and methods of plank-on-frame boatbuilding.

Traditional wooden boatbuilding is a beautiful and complex woodcraft that is based upon centuries of traditional boat design, the related art of lofting boat lines to full size, and an in-depth understanding of various construction methods. Traditional boatbuilding depends on the use of hand-tools. After learning about tool sharpening and care, students cultivate the long-term mastery of their tool skills.

arques school workshop

Training & Apprentice Programs

Training Programs



  • All-Day Saturday Class: The Saturday class offers serious boat building education and prepares amateurs for boat building on their own on a part time basis. The class offers in-depth instruction on lofting, boat building and hand tool use. Limited to twelve students.
  • Boat Design: An introduction to traditional sailboat and yacht design. Covers the evolution of sailboat design through the use of half-models and lines drawings. The class is limited to apprentices plus up to three additional students.
  • Celestial Navigation: This class teaches navigation by the sun, moon and stars. Students learn theory and history of navigation, how to calculate position using tables, and how to use a sextant.
  • Classic Small Boats on The Bay: This class teaches the many small skills that go along with operating a small traditional sailboat and rowing boat.
  • Lumber Harvesting, Drying, and Applications: This class deals with various aspects of wood technology. Special emphasis is on the use of locally growing timber. The class includes wood harvesting north of San Francisco with chainsaws and the ‘Alaska mill.’ This class is limited to apprentices plus up to six additional students.

Apprentice Program

  • The Apprenticeship Program: An in-depth program for learning the fine art and craft of wooden boatbuilding in a traditional manner. This program is offered in two preparatory courses designed for diligent students who want to build traditional wooden boats. Exceptional graduates of this program become eligible to participate in a third level of paid apprentice while working on projects of the Arques School and its affiliates. During the course, students will learn boat design, lofting, and construction; hand tool use, local tree felling and lumber preparation, bronze casting, rigging, and some sailing as well.
  • Level One - Fundamentals (3 months): In the School’s Design Class, apprentices learn fundamental design skills and prepare a full set of lines for a small sailboat.
  • Level Two - The Application of Theory (6 months): Here students deepen their study of boat design and lofting. Second full sets of lines, this time for an ocean-going sailboat, must be completed.  Various boatbuilding methods are introduced and mastered by students of this level.
  • Level Three - Compensated Apprenticeship: Students accepted into this level of the Apprenticeship Program join in on various shop and historical projects. Here apprentices are compensated on a sliding scale, according to their productivity.

LAST UPDATED ON Mar 3, 2017

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