Wooden boat-building not a good career?

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by ancient kayaker, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. watchkeeper

    watchkeeper Previous Member

    I started working on wooded boats building a clinker sailing dingy after school at a local yard tutored by the boat builder owner. After finishing college I started an apprentiship with the same yard, two years later the yard closed when the owner died.

    The industry was in a slump I couldn't get a transfer to another yard so I eventually transferred to marine engineering, it seemed to be where the future was plus had better opportunity getting overseas travel.

    There are still a handful of yards in NZ building timber boats, Kiwi's have always had a love of timber built boats but it's only the very wealthy that can afford one these days - the average twice the cost of aluminium or GRP.

    Later I did build two timber yachts in Turkey - as PM including my own, cost then was a lot less than Aus or NZ but now the euro and Turk labour costs have caught up with the rest of the world.
  2. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    With the superyachts carpentry is all gone. Interiors are built in factories by computer milling machines then fit to the yacht. The last of the chippies make their living with teak decks. Its good money, but working on your hands and knees for 40 hours a week will break your body in ten years. Deck gangs can barely walk out of the shipyard at the end of the day

    If you're a young guy looking for a marine industry career go marine engineering or marine electronics at one of the maritime universities.
  3. watchkeeper

    watchkeeper Previous Member

    That's basically what I did too, after finishing my trade I travelled working in yards all around the world then went back to school and got a degree (my late thirties) then set up my company.

    The romance of sail & timber boats has been exchanged for hi tech and big bucks.
  4. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Exactly ...and when you grow up and get old you can go back home, fit out your garage and build beautiful wooden boats for the rest of your retirement.

    Doing it the opposite way wont work anymore.
  5. El_Guero

    El_Guero Previous Member

    At least you are still making enough you can afford a good life.

    Globalization has brought a lot of wages down.

    Invest it while you can, and live to enjoy some of it.

  6. watchkeeper

    watchkeeper Previous Member

    Not correct
  7. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    Yeah, depends on the points of view. In China they have probably gone up. :p
  8. swabbie

    swabbie Previous Member

    Since 2000 I worked by project contract or client side contract in shipyards in
    US - Gulfport & Seattle
    and every yard had increased wages even the third world labourers in UAE got increases however small.

    Globilazation has damaged employment opportunities in some developed countries, maybe in US some manufactures have reduced hrs and rates but in UK, NZ. Aus, Germany companies can't reduce wages only no. of hrs
  9. keith66
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    keith66 Senior Member

    Here in the Uk we have several good boatbuilding colleges, Falmouth, Lyme Regis & the IBTC at lowestoft. Many students pass through their doors with high expectations. I was one of them going to Falmouth back in the late 70's.
    From our course i can think of 3 of us who stayed in the boat game.
    Most chippies end up fitting kitchens or going into the building trade as they can earn far higher wages. A goodly proportion of wooden boatbuilders will have a good woman behind them who often pays the mortgage as she earns more!
    Wooden boatbuilding is a great trade but you cant eat karma & it dont pay the bills.
    Its often the case that wooden boatbuilding is highly localized with pockets of industry here & there, if you dont live there forget it.
  10. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    This is true. If you dont live there forget it

    The region Im in has one the densest concentration of superyachts on earth. The repair facilities are big, sophisticated and as a result marine tradesmen are always in demand.

    If you lived somewhere else...forget it.

    And even with this demand for services a tradesman can expect average wages and great uncertainty during their working career.

    At present things are very slow with quotes being given that only cover the cost of employees.
  11. boatbuilder25
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    boatbuilder25 New Member

    Hi Lads!

    As a young boat builder, i can tell you one thing... it is VERY hard to gain employment in this day and age, understandably. Jobs and many other things seem to be on a very small avaliability in the trade.

    Anyways, im building an atomie.... and tips?

    Attached Files:

  12. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    Convert the build to taped seam and save the bother of several structural elements and a healthy weight savings. This is an old (50+ years) design and there are much better ones today (faster, lighter, stronger, easier to build, etc.), though I guess free plans can some how be justified, but typically you get what you pay for.
  13. peter radclyffe
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    peter radclyffe Senior Member

    i worked with a gang from blowstuffed college on a big american commuter restoration abroad, most of them resented me because i was a shipwright, they stuck together with their foreman,teacher ex college who was a good guy,
    it was very hard for me,
    till one day their teacher was sacked for not surveying a boat properly, the owner bought it on his survey then they found it rotten, and who did they replace him with, me, that really upset them,when i became their foreman

    and most of them worked like they were in college,80 % chat 10 % work, so i told them, the owner wants his boat in 2 years not 5 years, reverse it 80 % work, 10 % chat,

    and so many of them thought they were as good as fife after 1 years study, and that the world owed them a living and you should be proud and thankful to employ them cos they thought they were the best,
    as if i had,nt got enough work building and teaching them,

    i had to cope with all that baggage theyd been taught in college,

    for sure the college told them they were fantastic,
    but they didnt tell them why

    which is of course because they or their daddies were paying

    later some of them told me the truth which is that they were not happy with the tuition, in particular because they barely got to use machinery, because the college was scared of being sued for accidents
  14. peter radclyffe
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    peter radclyffe Senior Member

  15. Vulkyn
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    Vulkyn Senior Member

    Well middle east area wooden boats are still very popular unfortunately most of them are not build by students from boat-building schools ....
    Here wogodenboat builders are mechanics, engineers, builders, designers and electricians (Most of them didn't even go to collage and they learned their trade from their parents.) They literately do everything ...

    The irony ....
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