It has been exactly one year since I graduated from the NWSWB! This morning as I sit sipping my coffee, I can’t help but recall the amazing things I experienced at Boat School: the friends I made, the boats we crafted, the knowledge I internalized, and ultimately, how those experiences have helped me since.
I am currently the Chief Mate on the schooner Lewis R. French. A wooden boat built in 1871 in Maine, and a National Historic Landmark, the 101′ French takes people vacation-sailing along the coast of Maine. Before our sailing season begin, I was directing the crew on standard maintenance items such as painting and varnishing — things I’d done plenty of times before. But for the first time in my life, I was able to contribute to the structure of the ship.
The Captain and I replaced an entire section of the deck, as well as a sill for the cabin house. I was proud to be able to offer legitimate assessments of the project based on what I’d learned at school, as well as do much of the work efficiently, utilizing the tricks-of-the-trade I’d practiced as a student.
Before sailing down east, I was in Port Townsend right after school working aboard the schooner Adventuress as their Winter Mate. The 133′ wooden schooner was undergoing her largest and final phase of hull restoration. Leading a team of 12-15 volunteers, we completely revamped the schooners interior including engineering projects, carpentry, and finishing. My team also supported the skilled team of shipwrights at Haven Boatworks. Again, thanks to my time at Boat School, I was able communicate with the shipwrights in their boatbuilding language to effectively move the project forward.
I cannot thank the instructors and staff of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding enough. Especially my instructor, mentor, and friend Jeff Hammond. I am so grateful for everything you have given me.
I hope all is well for everyone at the Boat School. I hope you have a fantastic next school year!
Zachary W. Simonson-Bond
Chief Mate, Schooner Lewis R. French
USCG Master, Inland, NMT 100 tons