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Shipwright returns to his boat-building roots


CFCC lead boat-building instructor Mark Bayne (left) stands with some of his students as they work to attach planks to a 19-foot wooden boat.

Photo: Cape Fear Community College

​Before Mark Bayne made a career out of building wooden boats all along the East Coast, he started in 1978 as a student in Cape Fear Community College’s boat-building program.

Today, 34 years later, he’s back in the same classroom to lead the program into the future.

In August, Bayne was hired as the lead instructor of the North Carolina college’s boat-building program, one of CFCC’s most unique academic offerings located at its campus in historic downtown Wilmington.

Bayne returned to the college with more than three decades of professional boat-building experience. Most recently, he was the owner of Sea Island Boat Works in Isle of Palms, S.C. Throughout his career, he has built more than 100 wooden boats of all shapes and styles, including the 140-foot Spirit of South Carolina in Charleston.

Fostering the skills

Bayne says that as a teacher he enjoys the opportunity to share his professional experience to help students get started on their own future in boat building. Running his own boat shop has given Bayne a clear direction for students in the program. He wants to instill in them the same characteristics that he looked for in his own employees.

“I want my students to be ready to step into a professional boat-building operation knowing the terminology, being able to use the tools safely and knowing the construction techniques so they can hit the ground running," Bayne says.

CFCC’s program is structured much like a working boat shop. Students meet for five hours a day Monday through Friday. Over the course of three semesters, students learn a combination of traditional and contemporary boat-building techniques. The skills students learn can not only help them find jobs in the boat-building industry, but also in related fields, such as cabinet-making and other wood-working.

“The great thing about wooden boat building is that if you can build a wooden boat correctly, you can build anything,” Bayne says.

From stern to bow

Students first learn how to work with the tools safely. After learning the basics, they start building a boat. The goal is to begin by lofting a full-scale plan and ending the course with a completed boat. In the process, the class learns to work as a team and think critically to solve problems.

This semester, students are working to complete two projects from beginning to end. The first is a 19-foot Core Sound sharpie designed by Brian Blake. The second is a 20-foot Carolina Spritsail sharpie with plans provided by the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

Bayne emphasizes that it’s important for students to understand the complete construction process to gain the proper skills, as well as to experience the pride upon seeing the finished product.

“I want these students to have the self-confidence so when they finish the program they can say that they've built a boat from start to finish,” Bayne says.

On the horizon

Bayne is optimistic about the future of boat building. Despite the economic slowdown, boat building is a prominent industry along the coast of North Carolina from Wilmington to Manteo, he says.

"Boat building has been good to me. My goal now is to make sure the next generation of boat builders gets a solid start so they can begin their own careers," Bayne says.

In addition to teaching, Bayne will also organize the 2013 CFCC Boat Show, which is an annual celebration of boat building held in Wilmington along the Cape Fear River. The next show will be held on April 20, 2013.