Students will be able to perform competently at least one operation associated with the actual building of a New Haven sharpie.
Note: While this unit certainly can be used within the context of a school based U.S./New Haven history class, it is my intention to use it as an introduction to the central activity of my class, the building of a sharpie. Let me urge anyone who has a lot of interest, a little building experience, a place to work (school shop), and a talent for raising money to build a small work boat. It is an excellent vehicle for teaching skills while fostering an important sense of group accomplishment. Most importantly, it teaches students that they can complete what appears to be an impossible task by using patience and care at each step.
1. Rather then attempt to outline the steps in building a small wood boat, let me recommend two books that must be read before you can decide whether you want to do it and which boat should be built first. Peter Stevenson’s
Sailboats You Can Build
includes plans and building instructions for three simple but interesting boats. If you don’t have any experience one of Stevenson’s boats is a place to start. John Gardner’s
The Dory Book
is for the amateur boatbuilder with some experience. Gardner started as an elementary school teacher and went on to build and then teach boatbuilding during the last fifty-five years. His book carefully takes you through the steps in building fairly sophisticated vessels.
2. If you feel that you have the experience to build a somewhat more difficult boat, a New Haven sharpie, then Howard Chapelle’s
is the source. Included are plans for several sharpies with building instructions. However, Chapelle assumes a working knowledge of marine terminology and building techniques, and is really only useful to the experienced amateur.