Sunday, 14 May 2017

TWSBA Conference shows new directions possible!

The Teaching With Small Boats Alliance is an ad-hoc group of organizations who are using the building of small boats to reach kids who may not learn so easily from a piece of paper. Our own Boats 4 Folks programme falls into this general sphere of influence.

TWSBA was founded by Joe Youcha who also founded the Alexandria Seaport Foundation & designed the skiff we build in order to work with street gangs in DC. That was in the late 80's and he is still going very strong! We have been aware of all this activity through reading WoodenBoat Magazine for many years and felt it was time to get more deeply into the theory and practice behind it.

I invited Matt to head to this year's conference which was held at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St Michael's MD, to see what we could learn that would move the needle for K&C.

The campus is amazing, we camped out in the Lighthouse on the CBMM grounds which was fun too. Best of all of course were the people we met - let's face it - 130 folks all committed to changing kids lives, would you expect to find duds? no.

CBMM boatshop from gallery
CBMM woodworking platform

Lighthouse behind Log Canoe restoration
view from lunch room deck!

CBMM boatshop other end!
 Each day was divided into sessions and locations in a grid, as we drove down we divided up the most appropriate sessions we felt would be best value for K&C and our own development. If you are interested in this subject please see the TWSBA website!

On the way down I was fired up with how to bring more S.T.E.M. (Science, Tecnology, Engineering and Math) teaching into our own Boats 4 Folks (B4F) programmes. (anyone who finds it ironic that someone with ADHD is leading this effort - shut up). By mid day Thursday I realized this would be a bonus but is not really a core of the B4F we currently run. In "4 kids build 12' boat in 2 Days" there is very little stem teaching - we are delivering a huge shot of self-esteem to kids who know failure really well. And this is something we will continue to do.

What did show up as a result of our participation in TWSBA was seeing a new path for a new programme. For some years we have been held back from creating school based programmes by the logistics of getting students into the boat shop, by the funding for a full time boatbuilder/E.D. which is necessary for integrated shop visits and the logistics of getting kids to the shop week after week. Here's what showed up...

K&C creates or finds a part-time skilled professional who can lead and train others in teaching stem through boatbuilding.

K&C creates the kits for delivery to the schools along with said leader who returns to the school weekly over a 10 - 12 week schedule for the delivery of the course. Eventually we would only need to deliver the kits and teaching material.

This solution solves a whole lot of problems including keeping the boatshop un-jammed to fulfill it's basic purpose of restoration training and fun messing about in boats. Plus unlimited growth potential

While we had some great takeaways from TWSBA I didn't want to arrive empty handed and i suspected we might have something to teach about small scale fundrasing as delivered by our raffle programme. The key to this is the time we spend turning each sow's ear into a Silk Purse. We had to take a finished skiff with us for our strategy to be understood and this worked -- most of the attendees had not gone down this route because what they are building is not saleable.

K&C is also close to delivering a sea flea based kids programme so we took our prototype Mini-Hopper. Nobody there knew what a sea flea was! Well they do now! We gave rides to a few and they were instantly in love and could see the magnetism of our planned programme on kids.

museum of recreational boats display Star and Comet
very tidy outboard display

Joe Youcha in boatshop door
Matt reviewing last session at a break
Skipjack ride was awsome

what me smile!?
Yup! Want one of these!

 So it was an amazing outing, next TWSBA Conference is in 2 years, location tba and hopefully K&C will be there with a team! Special thanks to Jenn Kuhn the ED of CBMM for doing a fantastic job of hosting this year's Conference. If you have never visited before - get it on your list - lovely weather in April too!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Toronto Boat Show huge hit for K&C

your museum without a museum was a real hit at the Toronto Boat Show this year. Our volunteers were great, the new signage worked, the new model of having the kids carving paddles on the weekends was a huge hit and all together everyone involved had lots of fun and we met lots of new (and old) friends of our projects.

It is clear from the response to our story that we are doing something in the Glen that could and should be repeated in other communities. Again we have inquiries to do this which we will be following up.

Here are a few pictures of the new booth and activities:

kids could climb into the boats on the floor
Chris coaches future boatbuilder?

Anton has a way with teaching
SeaFlea driver next summer!

set up to invite play and fun
Mini-Hoppers were a magnet

Naval Cadets boarded our ship

a repeated scene!

George keeps an eye out

Skiff was appreciated by many
Bernie gives a paddling lesson

And so the week flew by. There were some landmark events -- we began the Show with 70 Toss N Save entertaining life rings to sell and they were all gone by the end of the second day. Unfortunately we couldn't get any more. The first raffle was sold out by Monday and we held the draw on Wed. Kathy Rhodes pulled the winner Max Swartz from the drum and he is over the moon with his win! The second raffle was sold out by late the last day of the show, thanks in part to ACBS members Chris VanDerGrift and Ken Kirk who grabbed up the last 10 tickets. Rita Adams did the honours and pulled winner Bonnie DiBianco who is also thrilled to be a boat winner!

K&C Boatshops is entirely funded through our raffle ticket sales, disposal of occasional boats that do not fit our museum collection criteria and the generous financial, material and service gifts of folks and companies who just love what we do.

We can't thank you enough for your support. However if you see us on the water, remember we are really a Boatride Museum more that a "look at" museum. So say hello and perhaps get a Boatride. We'll be doing that at the ACBS boatshow in Gravenhurst - second weekend in July. See you there or visit us any Saturday in our boatshop in Glen Williams!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

join us, help us or say hi at the Toronto Boat Show

up to my clavicles in paint and varnish the last few weeks getting ready for TIBS which opens this weekend! As usual we are honoured by the organizers and their donation of a space in the South Foyer - right beside our chums, the Toronto Chapter of the ACBS.

One project has been the new Beta version of our own sea flea. Mini-Hopper you can see in previous posts and it has been a great and hardy little boat. Our intention is to offer sea flea building to kids-at-risk and to youth in general as well.

The transition is from an epoxy built boat to a SikaFlex and boat-nails built boat - much like our skiffs. This required a surprising degree of re-design which Bernie and Bruce got right into (of course).

Here are a few shots:

rigid  frame with Sika Flex applied
Bruce, Matt & Bernie glove up!

Bernie locates panel on keys

nailed, scraped and clamped.

Ray uses George's Viking Clamp!
MB sands and varnishes

then the best trick of all, the coaming board. If you check out the Mini-Hopper, you'll see she has a half wrapped oak coaming, well this time we decided on a one-piece oak coaming...

George with the biggest sea flea part in the world
MB's soaking jig.

George, Matt and Steve with steam up

bent and in - perfecto!

Meanwhile the Mini-Hopper was showing her war wounds of two seasons of testing and needed serious restoration before being in the show.

Wayne sanding very carefully
whew! few tricks used here - worked

still looks great!

 OK, so one of the tricks came from noticing that the gold paint protected by varnish, survived far better than the green painted areas. So I varnished the whole thing from coaming to chine and it looks great - time will tell about survival.

Plus we needed a finished skiff for the show and the one in the shop just wasn't quite ready. A real crunch of filling and fairing by Anton, sanding by many and paint and varnish by MB.

We are trying a different look this time - only the stem, knees and transom have been stained - the rest is natural wood colour.

Anton in his element
done and done

and lastly (just kidding), we needed some more presentable stands for the outboards Jim wants to display at the show so with Steve's help....

still in the works but nice

And we made it - just. Last Monday and Tuesday we moved into our space in the South Foyer at the Toronto Boat Show. New signage is in the works but much cleaner layout. Our feature this year is kids (actually) messing about in boats and carving paddles. Should be a blast.

boats on the floor plus Shepherd
getting there!

If you would like to volunteer on our booth, we'd love to have you - even if we haven't met you. After all one of the reasons for being there is to invite new volunteers to jump in!

Register through our new website

Toronto Boat Show website is

Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016 highlights (because I have been slacking off)

Ok so you haven't heard from me for while on this blog, sorry....but here is a catch up since the last posting. I'll keep it to the most important activities and leave out a few adventures.

Life Matters event at GDHS

here is Scott at MSC teaching rowing or waving

In June the Life Matters Event at the high school.

Our booth was the biggest hit of the show as kids often tried hands-on creation for the first time.

firing up an old outboard

many hands sanding a skiff

Life Matters a huge hit!

making lots of shavings carving paddles

The sea flea team begins a new "beta" version of our won Mini-Hopper sea flea which represents a transition in design to allow building it in 2 days with Sika-Flex and boat nails.

begins here:
Hmm, something still missing

new building jig and a couple of eagle eyes

Meanwhile in the shop..

Rory doing fine adjustments
new volunteer Matt gets the Shepherd under way

Spring arrives and so does some boating on Puslinch Lake. Unfortunately we don't immediately realize this shallow lake is lower than usual as a result of the drought. Oops, 2 props later.

a little knotty training

Shepherd looks lovely

Jr skippers at work - very focused!

even tried out the MinnKota electric

progress on Lightning, Shepherd, skiff and Mini-Hopper II in the boatshop.
Matt has transom on the Shepherd & skiff being sanded out
Sean working on Lightning rigging
Bruce sorting out the details

Volunteers favorite event is the annual Picton Raid courtesy of member Grant Reynolds, lots of great eating and some great boating as well...

boats in the water in Picton Harbour
and now at Grant's cottage

an idyllic scene for sure

George fiddles with carb

good friends, good food and good boats.

Next K&C attends the Classics Against Cancer Car Show in Cedarvale Park, Georgetown held every Father's Day. The turnout and weather were great and we had a great time as usual.
Bruce even set up the Lightning

couldn't tear these two away...

display looked really fine in the sun
George's van never more appropriate

 Mini-Hopper gets it's "spinal frame", a lovely old Grew dinghy arrives and the Lightning is ready for action - pretty much.

1940's Grew gaffer

Bernie and Bruce engineering.

new arrival and lovingly restored Lightning, Mini-Hopper I behind.
ACBS Gravenhurst Boat Show, second week of July. We are given a booth, thank you very much and show some boats, our programmes and offer paddle carving this year.

showing our stuff and sharing our passion

 Boats 4 Folks Event in the boatshop and another skiff is launched by the 4 kids who built her in two days! Check out the attitudes!

smiles and cheers from the crew who built the unpainted boat in the foreground!

 back at Puslinch for more testing and youth boating experience...

Richardson and TNT out for runs
the fleet ready to rock and roll

Mini-Hopper goes but not quite right yet.
 a Nearly like-new 22' Shepherd shows up, minor refinishing required....ha!

very fine trailer too

proud volunteers Matt and Scott

Boats 4 Folks kids go sailing a week or so after the boatbuild...

ready to launch the Lightning "Bolt"

everyone shipshape and having fun

Next volunteer outing is the ACBS 100 Mile Cruise re-enactment in Muskoka. Two steamships participate, the Segwun and the  Wenonah II. Many ACBS members in their antique bpats joined the parade from Gravenhurst to the top of Lake Joe. We joined along with our 17' Shepherd

locking through in Port Carling
what a picture, the big and small steamboats whistling!

Ray and JJ crew our cruise in Lake Joe
And the HRP return with a new group of youth for a day of hands-on experience in our boatshop. It was a big group and lots of fun!

Roni demonstrates spokeshave

shavings fly outside all day

Jason oversees two operations

filling and fairing the last skiff

fairing the frame of the Mini-Hopper

installing a carburetor

And now we are getting ready for TIBS, Toronto Boat Show, Jan 20 through 29. Please join us including putting volunteer time in on our booth no, 1005 in the South Foyer - next to ACBS.

 Before then there is work to do in the shop! Join us there on Saturdays from 9 AM on.

Also check out our new web site currently under construction