Hands On Deck is a nonprofit organization empowering youth and families to succeed together through experiential learning focused on the science and art of building wooden boats and the preservation of traditional skills.

“If we use our hands to build, the need for instant gratification is subdued by the desire to connect and not consume.”

Our Work

We have provided over 300 hundred wooden boat building and traditional skill classes with multiple community based organizations over the past three years. We have a two fold approach to accomplishing our mission: One is to offer our community a wonderful class experience where they can learn skills and make projects they never imagined possible, and two is focusing our boat building around at-risk youth within the care and scope social services through along term apprenticeship program. With the help of trained volunteer mentors, we have seen great growth over the past four years.

Our Values

PEOPLE • Hands On Deck’s mission is rooted in people. We seek to build a community of respect, individuality and appreciation. Our programs empower and affirm - celebrating curiosity, opening doors to the world and nurturing self-discovery.

PROCESS • Hands On Deck’s mission centers around instruction and mentoring in traditional skills like boatbuilding, chairmanning, and green wood carving. Woodcraft and Woodworking is one of the oldest crafts and we are working hard to teach the simple skills of hand work to our younger generation.

PROJECTS • Hands On Deck is represented well by the variety of projects we help create. From a leather and wooden handbag all the way to 26’ lobster boat, we focus on projects that anyone can do as one process at a time.

CulTURE •our Learning ENVIRONMENT is very important to the way we think about Craft and teaching tradItional Skills. Warm, Safe, Clean, fun, Relaxed, and inviting are the words the we hope everyone can use to describe the culture and Atmosphere SURROUNDING hod whether we are at home in the boat shop or on location at a local school.


Because of our commitment to workforce development and our partnership with NEWMA, we have received the 2018 Community Partnership Award. Please visit the alliances website for more information:http://newmfgalliance.org



Mentoring is one of our main vehicles of teaching traditional skills.  By using mostly traditional hand tools, mentors and students "unplug" in their woodworking, boatbuilding, and handicrafts.  Its a more peaceful opportunistic atmosphere to learn, grow, and build with our community.


That being said, we also know that as our apprentices leave our shop that they need to be equipped for modern output and machine processes. Working with the Woodworking Career Alliance, we are certifying our mentors and apprentices through the WCA credentialing process. Please contact us for more information.


Get Involved

Learning to engage your head, hands, and heart is a traditional way of teaching and learning. We are looking for youth and adults who are ready to step out of their comfort zone to learn new skills and processes that will bring a new level of satisfaction to any project. If you'd like to learn more click here, and send us a note.