Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Up the mast, looking for clean wind.
Boat: Currently Shopping, & Heavily in LUST!
Re: Looking for Shipwright Apprenticeship
Some of what you find (or don’t) depends upon how wide or narrow a net you cast in terms of maritime vocations, especially intially. As in every (English speaking) country I know of, there are quite a number of “boatbuilding” schools/apprenticeship schools. Boatbuilding being in quotes, as at many of them you also learn about virtually every type of system onboard modern craft. Which, once you’ve learned the basics about how boats & their systems are put together, you can pursue a sub-specialty. Such as timber construction, marine electronics, rigging, sail making, etc. As there are literally dozens of related fields.
So it’s worth doing a bit of digging to find information on such centers of education. Some of which can be found in the classifieds sections of Professional Boatbuilder magazine, & similar periodicals. As well as by contacting such periodicals directly. And of course you can do online searches.
You can also learn a great deal about many of the marine trades via commercial shipping, & fishing. As a huge number of the skills transfer fairly directly to yachts, or do so with but a minor bit of retuning. Everything from navigation & watch standing, to learning how to maintain key equipment, & fix it when it breaks down.
You can also directly contact folks in any trade field who work on boats. Designers, riggers, boatyards, sailmakers… And if you spend a bit of time racing boats you’ll also open a lot of doors in terms of meeting such tradesmen, along with doing deliveries (document your sea time & get letters of reference). All while learning more about what makes boats, & their owner’s tick.
EDIT: When working with marine professionals, once you have a rapport built up with them, ask what key skills, qualifications, pre-requisites, & attitudes they look for in apprentices, & new hires. My experience is that if one’s at all a decent sailor, possessing of a good attitude, who wants to learn, then it’s pretty easy to slot into ground floor jobs, & work your way up from there.
For example, when I first met him, one of my best mates had just transitioned from apprentice sailmaker, to journeyman. And a year later he was working in one of the America’s Cup team lofts, as one of their lead guys. Then after the Cup, he became an apprentice rigger, as there was a local opening, & my friend was a well known & liked persona. Thus he never wanted for work, thanks to having skills in multiple fields, & his great attitude.
There’s a good book which covers a fair bit of the above, including listing dozens of trades on & around the water, in terms of building & caring for boats. It’s called Sail For A Living by Sue Pelling, & is worth getting a copy. Below is the book’s description on Amazon.
There’s a job in or around the water for everyone, and this book tells you how to turn a passion for sailing into a whole new lifestyle. Discover the realities of a wide range of marine careers, including the perks and the pitfalls. Benefit from insiders’ experiences and advice. Learn industry secrets and salary details. There’s information on how to get a foot on the ladder as well as how to set up your own charter business or sailing school. Discover jobs you never knew existed and learn the quickest career paths. Sail for a Living gives you the information and inspiration to change your job – and quite possibly your life.
Also, as Roy M has stated, getting some engineering education is a huge help too. For if naught else, it's a tool which assists you with figuring out how to build, repair, or modify something right then & there. As opposed to having to wait ages for a designer to be hired to come in & sort it out. And that kind of skill is something that a lot of the better yards look for, as told to me directly by Eric Goetz of GMT Composites.
PS: If memory serves, there's a maritime college in Launceston Tasmania. Possibly it could be a resource for you?
The Uncommon Thing, The Hard Thing, The Important Thing (in Life): Making Promises to Yourself, And Keeping Them.