Today’s post is made up of excerpts from the speech given by Wanda Cashman at the 2016 ACBS Annual Benefit Auction at Lake Tahoe, CA. Wanda was the beneficiary of ACBS Scholarship funds given through the Seattle Central College Wood/Marine Technology program.
“My name is Wanda Cashman, and I am a Marine Technology Student at Seattle Central College, and a 2016 Antique and Classic Boat Society Scholarship Recipient.
My life has been an incredible journey from landlubber to boat lover, and a learning experience that never stops. I am a wife of 18 years to a wonderful, supportive husband, mother of a smart, beautiful teenage daughter, a US Air Force veteran, and massage therapist.”
In 2014 when they needed a new place to live, a friend invited them to live on her boat
“It was 1984 Hans Christian sailboat with beautiful teak decks. It completely changed my life. We all fell in love with living on a boat. But our friend was selling her boat, so we had to find our own. While we were busy sorting out our living situation, I received an email letting me know that because I was unemployed, I might be eligible to retrain into a different career field. I found out that Marine Carpentry was on the list of approved courses, and I decided to go for it. My grandfather had been a woodworker, my father a mechanic, so why couldn’t I be a shipwright?
The same summer that I enrolled, we found our own boat. We had scrimped and saved, and decided that since I was going back to school to learn about boats, the boat we found would be the perfect project boat for me- a 1968 36 ft. Chris Craft Cavalier. Plywood over a mahogany frame, sturdy, both Chevy 327 engines worked (!), no major damage, and we could afford it. And we love it.
We had to be interviewed to become caretakers at our small marina on Lake Washington. At the time, we had little knowledge of boating, the care of boats, and what it means to be a live-aboard. But now after two years, and being immersed in it, we have learned so much. We still own our small business where I still do massage part time, but my future goals are to work mainly on classic wooden boats as a shipwright, especially interiors, and to one day become a surveyor specializing in assisting people with wooden boats. From experience, we had a hard time finding people who would insure, haul out, or survey an older wooden boat like ours, and I would like to make that journey easier for someone else.
Seattle Central’s Marine Carpentry Program was recently revised to the new Marine Technology Program which, in addition to the well-established curriculum in wooden boat joinery and composites work to include fiberglass lay-up and repair, introduces the fundamentals of marine engines, marine electrical work, and basic plumbing. Overall, the program helps to expose students to a wide variety of skills useful in the many different fields of the marine industry.
My instructor, Sam Laher, has introduced my class to the wide variety of jobs that are available to us after graduation. We have been able to take a few field trips and meet many of the potential employers that are hiring students- work ranging from restoring classic wooden boats, to laying up fiberglass crew racing boats, or to building custom designed superyachts. For the past three quarters, I have learned how to safely use hand and power tools of all kinds, lay up my own fiberglass dingy trimmed in mahogany, wire cabin lights in a parallel circuit, and design and build a galley in an old wooden cruiser.
An update from Wanda says, “I’m currently working on a 1971 Cal 29 sailboat as well as my own Chris Craft Cavalier. I’m also learning more about marine electrical work. So many projects and not enough time! ”
Thank you, Wanda, for sharing your story and your service.
With respect and appreciation, posts this week have focused on Veterans. Those who are trained to establish and keep freedom often also learn the skills and admiration needed in the ownership and preservation of Antique and Classic Boats.