Waterlines - July 2014
Summer is here and we have been very busy at Urban Boatbuilders!
Since January, 116 students in school projects have completed 10 boats! See Ellie’s story below about one of those projects during which three boats were built in three weeks with 40 students.
The Apprenticeship Program is serving twice the number of youth as it did last year with another expansion planned for this fall. The youth continue to have amazing experiences. The Apprentices have just wrapped up their boats in time for our launch event on July 30th (we hope you will join us) and their August adventure to the BWCA.
Things aren't slowing down any time soon as we have lots of great events this summer. One highlight will be our live boatbuilding demonstration during the Minnesota State Fair. Come see us at the DNR building as the apprentices build a boat from start to finish over 12 days!
Thanks so much for your support to make these incredible experiences possible for our youth. We can’t wait to see you this summer.
Building a Mississippi-Tough Traveler
By Bob Anderson
We were recently commissioned to build a rugged version of our Wilderness Traveler canoe to paddle down the Mississippi River, all of the more than 2300 miles of it.
The Wilderness traveler is a 17’ 5”, tandem, skin on frame canoe which weighs about 37 lbs. It is light weight and tough. We have been building skin on frame canoes for several years and have taken them many places. They have been on big lakes and small lakes in the BWCA and Quetico and on shallow streams and big rivers, including the Mississippi. On all of these trips, we have never had to field repair a canoe. Having said that, taking a canoe down the entire Mississippi is like taking 20 consecutive wilderness trips.
We explored the modifications needed to the basic Wilderness Traveler to make it Mississippi tough. Looking at our first generation canoes and those that have been on many trips, we decided on two key changes. We strengthened the frame and improved the abrasion resistance.
The frame was modified in two ways. The Wilderness traveler has an engineered I-beam for its keelson. (The keelson is the piece of wood running down the middle of the inside of the canoe.) We increased the webbing depth or height of the I-beam by about 60%. This increased the rigidity by 100%. We also increased the number of ribs by 50%. Both of these structural changes made for a stronger and much more durable frame. The other change was to improve the abrasion resistance of the stem and keel. Normally, the Wilderness Traveler has a fabric covered stem and thin external keel. We steam bent a 1” piece of ash over the stem for extra wear protection and scarphed it into a deeper keel. Finally, we added an extra coat of two-part polyurethane to the skin for extra durability.
In only a few weeks our client will begin his trip down the Mississippi. We are excited to follow his adventures and wish him great weather and happy paddling!
Maila on the Job
By Maila Lee
I started a job in November of 2010 called Urban Boatbuilders. My experience while working here was phenomenal. I got the opportunity to do hands on work and make things out of wood. But the most important thing was that I was proud of the progress that I made at the end of each day because I made something out of wood with my bare hands and getting to experience it was just the best feeling ever. I soon found throughout the job that what I was doing was going to be something that I was going to enjoy and love to do.
While working with UBB I learned how to communicate one on one with my fellow peers. That was something I struggled with outside of work because growing up in a traditional family, we never talked or opened up about certain feelings or things. Being able to ask for help or clarification on a certain task was way more helpful then just trying to figure things out on your own. I also learned how to persevere when I made mistakes because every once in a while I would mess up on a certain project. I usually end up telling myself that I just messed up and I should just give up because I’m not good enough to do the job. But the push and the encouragement of being able to fix my mistake from my instructors gave me hope. It made me realize that no matter how many times I mess up or fall I can always learn from it and move forward. Throughout all of this I also learned how to take responsibility, I wasn’t afraid and run away from my problems anymore and having to lie about certain things because I knew I can fix it by making the right choices.
It only gets better too; today I am now helping in the shop and working with other youth who are in same boat as me when I was an apprentice. Being able to be there brings back a lot of memories. Now I feel like I’m the instructor helping the apprentice and encouraging them to work and keep moving forward. Knowing that the youth can come up to me and ask me a question feels awesome. Especially if I know how to answer it, helping them move on from the struggle that they are dealing with feels like I’m back where I started. Seeing kids grow and learning more everyday by building a canoe and taking action on part of a project is an amazing thing to witness. I’m also very grateful and honored to be the first former apprentice who gets to be back at the shop and help out with the crew. I think my summer is starting out great because I get to be a part of something I love to do and I couldn’t ask for anything better.
David in the Apprentice Spotlight
We asked David to share a little about himself and his experience as an apprentice at Urban Boatbuilders.
What were you hoping to get out of being an apprentice at Urban Boatbuilders?
I was hoping to earn some job experience and learn something new that I didn’t already know.
What do you want to do with all of these skills?
I want to be able to use them in the future for a construction job; it will show that i have lots of skills using different types of tools. I don’t think it would be hard to work in construction.
What do you want to do in the future?
In the future I either want to work some type of mechanic or construction job. My dream job is to be a botanist. I don’t have a garden right now but I'm pretty good with botany.
What has been your proudest moment as an apprentice?
My proudest moment was when I got moved up to senior apprentice. It was cool, I felt accomplished that I made it that far.
What is your favorite tool in the shop?
The band saw because I'm good at using it and I work with it a lot. I used it before i got here in high school.
A fun fact:
I played hockey when I was five until freshman year of HS. I stopped because I was excited about having more free time. I miss it and haven’t been on the ice in three years.
Highview Alternative High School
By Eleanor Erickson
When Marc Hosmer first asked me if I was interested in being one of the instructors for the school build at Highview Alternative High School, there was no hesitation in my response. It was a definite yes! As the first day quickly approached, my nerves surfaced just as quickly. While interning at Urban Boatbuilders this past summer, I worked alongside the apprentices in the shop, helped out with various community outreach events, and was fortunate enough to go on the BWCA celebratory trip with the youth. However, this would be the first time that I would be instructing a crew on how to build a canoe from start to finish. Our task was to build three canoes with forty high school students, in just three weeks. Oh boy, what did I get myself into?
As soon as I met the students I would be working with, all the irrational fears of creating an un-floatable canoe seemed to disappear. Working with youth who are motivated and curious about learning how to build a canoe makes a world of difference. Not to mention being able to work alongside my amazing fellow instructors Phil, Angela, Maila, and Stu. Something that I have learned about boatbuilding is that mistakes will happen. It is how we overcome those mistakes and find a solution to the problem that is the true test. At the end of these three weeks, I can guarantee that these students will be quite surprised as to how much they learned.
After having the first week of the build under my tool belt, I came to the realization that I knew more about the process of building a canoe than I thought! More importantly, it has further affirmed my passion to work with the transitioning youth population. A critical period for achievement and success happens during those teenage years and into young adulthood. I would like to help navigate these teens through this significant development period. It is a powerful thing to witness a pile of wood transform into a beautifully, handcrafted boat. Not only do the youth get to create something that they are proud of, but they are able to work in a team towards a positive collaborative goal. I am excited to see what the next two weeks bring!
Big Happenings with Urban Boatbuilders this Summer
- July 30: Apprentice Boat Launch and Alumni Gathering
6PM: Black Bear Crossings on the Lake, Como Lakeside Pavilion
- August: 13-23: Apprentice BWCA trips
- August: 21- Sept 2: State Fair
VISIT US AT THE FAIR, at the DNR building.