Launching a boat for the first time is a moment filled with its doubts, but when students build and launch a skiff as a class project, that moment is particularly intense.

As students prepared to launch their boat which they had begun to build in September, the question was not only would the skiff sail and not sink, but who would be the first to board.

Students Build and Launch a Skiff as a Class Project

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Alec Figueiredo stepped up.  “I’ll do it.  I’ll jump”.

He pushed through the group of his 15 classmates, fellow student boat builders and stood beside his teacher, Bill Phillips.  They stood eight feet above the new quahog skiff that had just been lowered into the water. 

Figueiredo lowered himself to board the boat at Pirate Cove Marina, and then experienced a moment of doubt.

He pulled his cell phone out of his back pocket, and handed it to his parents.

Then he climbed aboard and raised his hands. His classmates cheered.

Students Build and Launch a Skiff as a Class Project

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The boat didn’t sink.

Students with the Tiverton High School boat building program launched the 16-foot flat bottom skiff — a classic quahog boat painted dark blue — that they built from scratch beginning in September.

Along the way they learned about the math and physics involved in building and also learned all the tricks to bend and shape wood, Phillips, their teacher, said.

“Are you nervous?” Phillips asked his students while the boat was still held in the cradle of a boat lift at Pirate Cove. “Will it float?

“Of course it will float.”

The boat building program is part of the technical education program at Tiverton High School.

“We’ve always had this program,” said School Committee Chair Sally Black, who was on hand to christen the boat before it was launched on Tuesday. “Now we are building up the program and working with partners.”

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Students Build and Launch a Skiff as a Class Project

Click image to purchase book