Museum builds stand-up paddleboards from scratch |

Museum builds stand-up paddleboards from scratch

Axie Navas

The Tahoe Maritime Museum will revive the ancient art of wooden-boat building this weekend by constructing a vessel built for the basin.

Instead of tackling a sailing dinghy or a motorized skiff, the Homewood-based center will teach students to build handmade wooden stand-up paddleboards during its first-ever Wooden Paddleboard Building course.

"I know a lot of maritime museums have boat-building programs," Tahoe Maritime Museum board member Terry Clapham said. "What better boat to build for Tahoe than a wooden stand-up paddleboard?"

Clapham pitched the idea to the museum shortly after he joined the board a year and a half ago. Boat-building classes typically involve hours of work, plenty of space and one group project. Designing a sailboat from scratch was a daunting task for a small museum, but the paddleboard project seemed more manageable, Tahoe Maritime Museum Public Programs Coordinator Katena Sanford said.

Plus, each student will have a 14-foot board to take home after the class and the session complements the Youth Paddleboard program the museum launched last year.

The class starts Saturday and runs through the week. Five instructors, including Clapham and Sanford, will teach two students the "stich-and-glue" method of paddleboard building. By the end of the seven-day session, students will have a custom-designed, wooden paddleboard ready for the Truckee marsh or the South Shore Wednesday night race series.

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The museum ordered stand-up paddleboard kits from Chesapeake Light Craft, a boat-building company based in Maryland. The company bills its hollow wooden boards as "fast-enough to race but stable enough for first-timers" and promises buyers they can build their own paddleboard in less than 60 hours.

But it helps to have some guidance when wood comes to fiberglass, according to Clapham. Tahoe Maritime Museum students will start the class by cutting the side, bottom and deck pieces and then gluing the wood together. On day two, the group will stitch the pieces together using copper wire.

"You stitch the pieces together and then with a fiberglass resin as an adhesive, you glue the pieces together," Clapham said.

Before shoving off into the lake, the students will cover the wooden board with a fiberglass cloth — a medium weight, canvas-like covering — that turns into a clear, waterproof layer after the resin dries.

The class comes with a $2,100 price tag, a cost mitigated by the typical manufacturer suggested retail price of a custom-designed wooden standup paddleboard, Clapham said.

While the museum doesn't have any more building sessions scheduled, Sanford said they hope to make it an annual or bi-annual event.

"We figured paddleboarding is really relevant and popular right now," Sanford said.

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