Boat-building program offered
North Carolina Estuarium
As part of Beaufort County’s 300th anniversary celebration, the North Carolina Estuarium will host a program titled “Family Boat Building in the 21st Century” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 22.
There is a $5 admission fee per person for this program. Seating is limited; call the Estuarium for reservations (252-948-0000). Along with the program, there will be examples of home-built B&B Yacht crafts on display at the Estuarium.
This program will be led by Graham Byrnes, an award-winning naval architect and master boat builder who creates unique designs for small boats ranging from kayaks and dinghies to center consoles and cruising sailboats. Byrnes works with aspiring boat makers to develop individualized plans for their crafts, which can then be constructed with a few standard tools using precut marine plywood, fiberglass cloth and epoxy resins. Byrnes hopes this modern approach will revive interest in the rich tradition of small boat building in eastern North Carolina.
Before cars and roads were commonplace in this area, boats of all sizes were essential for transporting crops and timber, harvesting fish from rivers and sounds or even just visiting friends and family members. While most waterfront towns had at least one commercial shipyard, many a boat was built in the backyard of a local craftsman who worked “rack of eye” (without plans), using cedar, juniper, cypress or pine to create forms and dimensions he knew almost instinctively. Eastern North Carolina’s vast network of estuarine waters required its boats to be distinct from those in other states — boats built for river work needed different lines than their sound-side sisters, and those built for coastal trading had to handle blue water and shallow inlets.
Well into the 20th century, backyard boat building thrived in eastern North Carolina, but faded after 1950 with the rise of the commercial manufacturers. Byrnes’ company, B&B Yachts in Vandemere, is trying to revive traditional backyard boat building in a modern way — utilizing 21st-century technologies to give even inexperienced carpenters the opportunity to feel that pride old-timers knew of seeing a vessel made with their own hands coursing over the waves.
Whether for paddling, sailing or powerboating, find out how to build an attractive and seaworthy vessel in a backyard or workshop.
The Estuarium is a facility of the Partnership for the Sounds.
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