Boat Frames and Tool Trays on a Blustery Day

Today was blustery and rainy, a perfect day to spend in the shop. We started off the day with some knot tying practice while we waited for everyone to arrive. Cleat hitches and reef knots were the focus today.

Practicing our reef knots






After getting to know more about each other with a game of “West Wind Blows” we headed down to the shop. We split into two groups, with half of us starting to work on our tool trays and the other half building frames for the boat.

At the end of the day each girl shared what she worked on, the tools that she used, and the challenges she overcame in working on her project. Girls became more confident in making cuts with a pull saw and using a block plane. They also learned that a lighter touch is helpful with those tools.

The group making boat frames learned how to use a scale and dividers to transfer dimensions from the plans to the frame patterns. They were challenged by making this complex shape and then cutting it out on the band saw.

Emilia planing her tool tray pieces
Emma making one of many cuts for her tool tray
Making frame patterns is fun!
Fiona and Lizzy share what they learned about making frames

International Day of the Girl

Did you know that October 11th is the International Day of the Girl? The UN has declared this day with a mission to “help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”

After hearing this definition, Emilia smiled and said, “just like we’re doing here!” Smiling nods of agreement passed around our table.

After a quick name game, we headed down to the boat shop. There we got to see the shop space we’ll be working in (thanks to Scott Jones, NWMC boat shop manager for getting us organized), meet our boat, and learn to use some of the tools.

Each girl got a chance to use the bandsaw and drill press, under the supervision of Lara and Chrissy. Kat showed everyone how to mark a line using a combination square and make a cut using a pull saw.

Meeting our boat
Chloe at the bandsaw
Inspecting our tool kits (thanks to sponsorship from Sistership!)









Fiona at the bandsaw


Lizzy changing a drill bit






Emma using the drill press







Lizzy using the pull saw







Emma and her dad laying out the cut

As we came close to snack time, the group had to make a decision– change modes and head out for quick tour on Martha J to enjoy the weather and our snack, or snack on land and return to the shop for more tool work. It was a tough decision but after thinking about it the girls decided to take advantage of the nice weather.

Decision time

We enjoyed our snack on the water, were visited by a couple of harbor seals, and each girl got a chance to drive the boat.

Snack time!
Emma finding her landmark









At the end of the day we thought about two reflection questions: “What was my favorite part of the day and what do I wish every girl in the world could experience.”

Some of our favorite parts were: driving the boat, using tools (especially the bandsaw), developing our skills, and the feeling of our new shop space.

What we hoped every girl in the world could experience: learning how to drive a boat, learning how to build a boat, equal rights and opportunities as men,  equal opportunities for education (especially going to college), learning how to use tools, having a safe space to develop friendships with other women,  and having the emotional and physical support of other women.

We are so proud to be strong girls and women!

Fiona at the helm

Fabulous First Day!

First days don’t get much better than this! We decided to take advantage of the stellar weather this week and go sailing on Dorjun. She is a beautiful double-ended lifeboat that was built in 1905 and she’s an amazing way to see the water.

Lara introduces us to some important parts of the boat.

We spent a few minutes getting to know each other, learning to tie a cleat hitch,  and touring the boat shop before we set out to enjoy the afternoon.

Chloe blowing the horn to let other boats know we are leaving the marina.

After we left the marina, we raised our sails and used our cleat hitches to make our halyards fast.

After tacking to avoid a line of crab pots, we brought out our snacks. Then we had a moment of silence- where we quietly experienceed the environment with all of our senses. 

We are still looking for a few more girls to join this hearty crew as we learn about boating, woodworking, and boat building this year. If you are interested please contact Chrissy McLean at

Fiona mastering snack time!
Sailing is a nice way to enjoy the afternoon.


Underway and enjoying the view!

Don’t Forget the Bevel Gauges

During the intensive week of boat building we also wanted to make sure the girls had a little something to take home with them. As a bench project each girl made her very own bevel gauge.

Lara headed up the creation of these handy angle measuring tools.  She helped the girls to cut out and smooth the blade of the tool, cut out and smooth the handle of the tool, and cut out and smooth the rivet to hold the tool together. 

The girls really enjoyed being able to work with some different materials and tools to put together their own bevel gauges. 


Showing our Otter Pride

In one intensive week of work the Girls Boat Project team was able to make a great amount of progress toward the completion of Otter Pride.

We started out with only a few bottom planks on the bottom of the boat,

and finished the week with the bottom mostly complete and two new side planks secured to the boat.

Even though we were not able to finish the boat and give it a real splash test, during the final workday we gave the boat its name and splashed a bit of water on the bottom planks as a toast. Everybody joined in the celebration.

Spending a total of 15 hours on this project, the girls  learned to appreciate the amount of work and time that really goes into boat building.

In these 15 hours the girls learned to use over a dozen different tools. They used these tools to measure, outline, cut, plane, secure, and fasten the individual boards to the boat.  They used a mixture of hand tools and power tools to get the job done.

Most of the tools used on this project came from some wonderfully put together toolboxes which some generous soles made it possible to fill.  Thank you to everybody who made this program possible.





An Intensive Week of Boat Building

This summer a crew of eight hardworking girls has gotten together to spend an intensive week working on the work punt. Three hours of hard work each morning.


This is how it started out



For this week we split up into three groups: side planking, bottom planking, and making personal bevel gauges. Throughout the week we have been switching between the groups so that everyone gets to try everything.



Kathryn and Anna began the week cutting, planing, and fitting side planks.



Harper, Aurin, and Charlotte, got a good start on creating the planks for the bottom of the boat.


Magdolena, Emilia, and Linea were able to get a majority of their Bevel Gauges done.



Each day the girls made more and more progress. In just two days we had about two thirds of the bottom planking done, one side plank on, and two girls finished with their bevel gauges.







Overnight Longboat Journey!

Saturday May 14th – The girls pack up and head out

On our day off from school the members of the Girls Boat Project all gave up some extra morning sleep to meet at the Maritime Center at the early time of 9:00 am.  After taping the tide tables for the weekend onto our water bottles (Emilee’s idea) we all repacked our personal items into dry bags gratefully provided by the Maritime Center.

Once all the gear was packed, we loaded up the carts and headed down to the boat.  Emilee gave a briefing on safety and then the boat was promptly loaded.

Being as we are all human, we decided it would be a good idea to eat lunch before we began our journey.  You know, food=energy, and energy is needed to be able to row for several hours.

Soon after lunch we loaded up and cast off the dock.

We turned right out of the harbor so we would not be swept out to sea by the tide, and started the 3 mile row to Fort Flagler.

Because we were on a smaller size boat, we needed to pay special attention to the Ferry Boat and make sure to stay out of its path.

With Ferry Boats it is usually pretty easy to predict where they intend to go. With the first Ferry this was the case, with the second one not so much.

Have you ever seen a Ferry park after it finishes its run?

Neither had we.  But we were sure confused by its maneuvers.  We turned one way to make sure we would stay out of the way.  Then we realized the ferry was no longer moving, and after it had moved away from the dock it sat still in the water for a while before parking back at the dock.  At least we got to see a cool view of the Post Office through an empty Ferry 🙂

Over the next several hours we took turns being Coxswain and rowing in each seat.  As we did this, the sun and rain took turns beating down on us from the sky. 

Entering into Kilisut Harbor we had to work with a strong current that was trying to pin us to land as the tide was flooding. Our goal for that day was to make it all the way down to Mystery Bay to the Nordland Store for ice cream.  From there we would row back up to Fort Flagler where we would cook dinner and spend the night.

We were already running a bit late of our original schedule and everybody was sore and tired.  After rounding a couple pilings on the way into the bay we decided to rethink things a bit.  Almost unanimously we decided to turn around and row the shorter, but much more difficult, way back to the dock at Fort Flagler.

After we successfully docked in the super strong current we unloaded, took a much needed potty break, and then split into two groups.  One group went off to cook burritos for dinner and the other tidied up the boat.

That evening we has some special guests come out to meet us.  Lara and her new baby girl Cypress, and two fascinating ladies who have each rowed to Alaska, one who has sailed on tall ships, and the the other who has been rowing for many years. The ladies joined us for dinner and told many tales of their adventures both on and off the sea.

After dinner was all cleaned up we repacked the boat and moved it over to mooring buoy. Next we got ready for bed and set up shifts for night watch.

Sunday May 15th – The Voyage Home

We woke up to the soft voice of Jenna as she sang us a morning wake up shanty. After we cleaned up our bedroom and repacked all the luggage we rowed over to the dock for a quick breakfast  and potty stop.

Back on the boat we manned our rowing stations and prepared to cast off the dock. Getting off the dock would be quite tricky this morning. The current was moving rapidly and pushing us into the dock.

With the skill of our captain and the powerful strokes of the crew we successfully made it off the dock.

As we came up to Rat Island we looked over on the shore and saw about two dozen seals just lying there.  Once we were sure we would not be pushed aground by the current we fell silent and stared in awe at the seals.





We did our best not to flush the seals, but because of how close we had to get to exit the passage, they all decided to go for a morning swim.

Once the last seals left the beach we began rowing again, very gently and a quietly as we could. As we rowed the seals surrounded us. It was a wonderful start to the morning.

We rowed for a bit to ensure we were a safe distance from land. With sore muscles we were tired of rowing. We noticed a light breeze so we decided to raise the reefed main sail to help give ourselves a break.

Because the breeze was light we power sailed with a combination of the reefed main sail and four rowers until the wind picked up. Then we settled back and let mother nature take us home.

 Once we got closer to Port Townsend we lowered the sail and rowed last stint to the dock.

After we secured the boat to the dock we had a few minutes of reflection and then unloaded the boat.

Our wonderful trip was now over but our labor was not. We all worked together to put away and wash all the equipment we used.

Once we had most of that work done we ate our final meal together.

The trip was a success. Despite the weather we all had a blast out there on the water together. I’m sure the girls would all be willing to do it again anytime.

A Great Beginning to a New Session

This week was the first week of the spring session. For this session we gained a new member. Welcome Emilia! We also had a new instructor join us in place of Kat who had to leave early to go fishing in Alaska. Welcome Emily “Ems”!

We started out by playing some games so we could all get to know each other a little bit better. Once we all felt a little closer, we sat down and did some meal planing for our longboat journey. Next we took a field trip out to the dock so we could check up on the wind.

Using our handy dandy booklets, which included a Beaufort sale, we determined  the wind was blowing at a 4,  a moderate breeze (13-18 mph).


After that we made our way to the local Sail Loft where we learned loads about sails and how they are made and repaired.


Alison  graciously showed us around the shop. She showed us how different panels are measured, cut, and put together to create a new sail or reinforce old, wind-battered ones.

She also gave us a demonstration of how to use different tools to do some hand-sewing, which they do quite a bit of on the sails they work on.

With lots learned and lots accomplished we made our way back to the Maritime Center where we ended the day running around in the wind and enjoying the spring sunshine.

A New Kind of Boating Experience

To start out this week we played a fun game with a tricky solution. The girls had to think outside of the box to figure out how to separate their ropes without taking their hands out of the bowlines.

After we untangled ourselves, we made our way to the third floor pilothouse of the Maritime Building to the Boating Simulator.


The simulator is high tech training tool that is used by professional mariners to practice navigation and vessel operations. Right now, it’s being used extensively by people training to be Puget Sound pilots as they practice for their exams.

The Girls practiced entering and exiting the Kilisut Harbor channel (where we plan to go on our upcoming Journey) using the navigational aids to make sure they did not run aground. They each took turns at the three stations: Driving, Navigating, and Lookout. By the time they were on the way out of the channel the sun had already set and it was dark out. They found it a bit more challenging to navigate the channel purely by the red and green lights because they could not see the land. For their first time on the simulator they did pretty well.

After they finished the simulation they all went back down to the shop to put the finishing touches on their toolboxes.

Sophia got the bottom cut out and started planing it down to the right size.

Linnea drilled holes, hammered in the rose-headed copper nails, and sanded out the pencil lines.

Grace completely finished her toolbox! YAY! She even finished it with some nice wood oil.