Boat-building classes offered in Bath

Published 7:59 am Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

BATH — “There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.”
So said Ratty to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s classic “The Wind in the Willows.” A good percentage of Inner Banks residents would agree.
Steve Bussiere is counting on it. For more than 40 years, he’s built hundreds of wooden boats, and now he’s brought his expertise to Beaufort County.
Earlier this year, Bussiere and his wife, Ann, relocated to Beaufort County from Maine, bringing their boat-building business with them. The couple resides in Washington, but they’ve leased a building they’re calling the Little Boat Shop on Carteret Street in Bath.
Bussiere said he and his wife like the small-town feel of Beaufort County. They entertained the idea of settling in Wilmington before being introduced to the lifestyle of the Inner Banks.
“I come from a town of 1,800, and we were shocked when we got to Wilmington,” he recalled. “Then I was working on an antique Chris-Craft in Washington. I liked Washington and I liked the area, so I thought this would be perfect.”
Once they made the decision to relocate, it took a while to pack up and find a suitable building to rent. The couple pursued their dream and are on the verge of making it a reality.
Bussiere’s hands are roughened by decades of handling wood, but he doesn’t discount his wife’s contributions to the venture.
“She’s always given me moral support,” he said. “She’s also designing my fliers. Ann is great.”
Bussiere is in the final stages of preparing the business for its grand opening later this month, but he’s already fielded queries from between 30 to 40 people who are interesting in either having a boat built for them or signing on to build boats themselves.
That’s right, Bussiere offers a hands-on program that allows groups or individuals to experience the joys and challenges of boat-building.
“I build boats, but I do plan to teach classes in boat-building,” Bussiere said. “I’ve just spoken to someone who wants to build a kayak, too. So, I plan to build canoes and kayaks, small sailboats, a design called the ‘shell back’ and the original Carolina skiffs. They’re simple, classic boats. I even plan to build a little creek boat.”
Bussiere said that group boat-building programs have been popular in Maine. Entire families, couples, fathers and sons and even mothers and daughters have signed on as teams in order to build their own boats.
“I’ve also done programs with groups like the Lions Club and church groups,” Bussiere said. “A group will get together and build a boat and then sell raffle tickets. They’ve made a lot of money off those boats.”
Building a boat as a group project isn’t as time consuming as one would assume, according to Bussiere.
“If they pick the right boat, a team can build a beginners’ level boat in a week, in most cases,” he said.
Bussiere has applied the same principles while teaching boat-building to students with behavioral problems.
“I’ve done some high-school programs for troubled youth, and they’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “It helps teach them some real-world skills they can use later on.”
For more information about the Little Boat Shop, visit or call 910-338-8673.