"Family Boatbuilding" uses the microcosm of the boatshop to help develop skills, relationships, and attitudes. This personal development is of greater importance than the boat itself. The goal is to meet an enjoyable challenge, share experience and achievement with those you love, and accomplish something personally memorable, lasting, useful, and beautiful. The organisation of the whole activity including the design of the boat and the method of construction, needs to effectively address this goal.
The currently most popular amateur boat-construction methods, "stitch-and-glue" and "cedar strip", use materials which present very real health hazards. Informed adults can evaluate the risks, make their own decisions, and take necessary precautions, but children are many times more sensitive to toxins and carcinogens than adults are, and generally far less cautious, co-ordinated, or conscientious. Use of any noxious chemicals in a project with children should be kept to the absolute minimum. Glues that allow water wash-up are desirable so clean-up can be done without introducing more toxic solvents to the situation. It is unacceptable to expose young builders to dangerous procedures and toxins, or to demands for knowledge, physical skills, and strength beyond their ability.
The benefits of "Family Boatbuilding" and "Community Boatbuilding" can be realised by any group that wishes to develop abilities and woodworking skills in an environment of mutual encouragement and achievement. The challenges of maintaining mutual enjoyment and morale throughout a group project in spite of disparities of temper, interest and ability, are distinctly different from the challenges faced by the virtuoso soloist concerned only with his/her own personal achievements. Leadership is required, but successful style can vary from benevolent despotism to fully considered consensus, depending on the needs and abilities of the participants.
Concerns in Family Boatbuilding:
Safe processes and approaches - avoid risk of lasting physical injury.
Pleasant processes - Low noise, low stink, good feels
Healthy, non-toxic materials and environment.
Designs suited to builders' abilities
Manageable challenges - reasonable expectations of performance.
Positive social interaction and recognition of successes
Opportunity to learn and reflect