HOWB 012 – Interview: Bill Mahler, NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding

by admin on December 8, 2011



Interview: Bill Mahler – NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding – this place ROCKS!
This week I interviewed Bill Mahler, director of the NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding.  Bill tells me the story of how the school got started:   After building wooden boats in the Puget Sound area for more than fifty years, master shipwright Bob Prothero had learned a lot about the business that wasn’t in any textbook. It was his dream to find a way to pass this lore along to new generations of wooden boatbuilders and help keep his craft alive. He came to the Olympic Peninsula from Seattle and founded the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in January, 1981.

The school is an accredited educational institution and has seen more than 1,100 students graduate since it began. This year they have 44 students (from all over the world) enrolled in either a 9 month diploma or 12 month degree program.  TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW, CLICK THE GREEN PLAYER BUTTON ABOVE.   Here’s pictures of some of the schools projects:


Bill next to 1st boat to do female captained, solo Atlantic crossing (1952)


Students working on half-model for 1st quarter assignment


62' Bob Perry designed, double ended, strip planked, day sailor - being built by school


New construction, traditional design, plank on frame beauty - "For Sale"


High school boat building project overseen by the boat school - another masterpiece!

You can reach Bill at 360 385-4948, email him at, or visit the website at


Listener Boat of the WEEK!
One of my email subscribers – Lee Bjorklund – sent me a picture of his wooden boat.  He (and his neighbor) own this drop dead gorgeous, Ian Oughtred designed, 19′ lapstrake double ended pocket sailor – OPUS.  Thanks Lee for submitting your picture!   Feast your eyes upon this, wooden boat lovers:

"OPUS" - 18' of sheer beauty! Look for her sailing Puget Sound.

Please submit pictures to me via email ( of your wooden boat.  I will be featuring boats on a regular basis on the website.  Thanks!


Next Week – Interview with Larry Cheek – Home boatbuilder, wooden boat book author, journalist!
Larry talks about the 4 boats he has built, how his perfectionism had to take a backseat to woodworking reality, and gives details of the book he wrote about building the daysailor “Far From Perfect”.  The book “The Year of The Boat” is a witty and insightful journey of a man on a mission.  Don’t miss the interview!


Want to help?  Please leave feedback!
My goal is to build a community of folks who want to connect, learn, and have fun with wooden boats.  Your valuable feedback will help me do that.  Please tell send me your wooden boat story so I can share it with the world (yep – people from all over the world are coming to the website).  You can use my website comment section, email me:, or call my feedback hotline at 424 261-2360.


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