Boat Building

Now in its third year the LRWP’s “Rowing on the Raritan Boat Building Project” has trained more than 200 community members in some aspect of boat building on the path to developing the inaugural fleet for a community-based rowing program on the Raritan River.

Since February 2022 we have occupied a former filling station at 101 Raritan Avenue in Highland Park. construct cedar strip rowing and paddles during scheduled workshops and community build days/ Volunteers learn through hands-on activities, no experience is required!

With many thanks to Derek Hartwick, Head Rowing Coach of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, for serving as project lead. And special thanks to our instructors Brian Smith, Amber Hennes and Colin Nickel.

Requirements for Participation:   

Age 13+

No boat-building experience required

Free to register and participate. See our events page for boat build dates and to register.

Former Boat Build lead Sarah Tomasello writes about the impact of her experience with LRWP:

Throughout 2021, I volunteered with the LRWP to build a wooden boat—a long, narrow rowing shell–destined for use on the Raritan River. During the pandemic, this boat building project was like a good dream. While I spent weekdays working remotely, Saturdays with the boat project meant the smell of cedar, the roar of the power planer, the feeling  of smoothly sanded wood, and being with other people. One year later, I decided to live that dream by pursuing carpentry and wooden boat building through a program called The Carpenter’s Boat Shop, located in mid-coast Maine.

Like many volunteers working on the rowing shell with the LRWP, I began with minimal experience. Our workshop was a hands-on classroom where other volunteers generously shared their skills. With this support I quickly gained more experience and confidence. Along the way I discovered that I liked nothing more than being in a workshop environment, making things with wood and tools, teaming with others to solve problems, and getting caked in sawdust.

Being part of this community in Maine makes me excited about what wooden boats can do for the Raritan region. Building the rowing shell with the LRWP helped me see the history and beauty of the Raritan River, Raritan Bay, and nearby waterways. Bringing a community together to build small, well-crafted boats builds a culture of connection with  local waterways, local history, and between neighbors, hopefully leading to increased stewardship and recreational access to the Raritan.