Tag: woodworking

LRWP Boat Building Inspires Connection to the Raritan River

Article and photos by Theo McDermott-Hughes

Aadharsh, 16, has always feared the water, making him a perhaps unlikely volunteer for the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership boat build. This LRWP program aims to increase engagement with and understanding of the Raritan River. Moving water is something Aadharsh had avoided for years, yet this was his second year participating in building a canoe as a member of the Sewa International Central Jersey youth program, which he participates in as a junior at JP Stevens high school.

Aadharsh was drawn to the boat building project and the LRWP because of his love for the environment and dream of being an engineer. After building these boats, starting from the paper designs and research all the way through the construction process of fixing the panels in place and weaving the cane seats, Aadharsh now leads his engineering class at school as they use the same processes and skills he’s already learned in the boat house.

Even more than practical skills and insight into the engineering process, he’s gained deep sense of fulfillment, one he struggled to express as he laid his hands on the lacquered hull of last year’s canoe. “Watching the boat come to life” under his hands gives him the energy to come back each week. He gazed at the panels striping the side of the boat with a sense of awe, bordering on reverence. “You see that?,” he said. “We did that.”

As Aadharsh’s father, Sakkaravarthy, watched his son work with other volunteers to attach the paneling, he expressed his great pride. He always tries to sign up to chaperone the teen volunteers when Aadharsh comes to the build. Not only does he get to watch his son explore his passion, when they return home and Aadharsh inevitably spends dinner enthusiastically talking about what he did at the boat build, Amid can smile along with understanding and pride.

Now, both father and son look forward to the boat launch, when the new canoe will hit the water for the first time this summer along with past years’ boats. Aadharsh can’t wait to paddle down the river that was once such a source of fear.

Join LRWP volunteers like Aadharsh and Sakkaravarthy at our boat-building session on Wednesdays from 6-8 and Saturdays 9-11. Pre-registration required. See you soon!

Woodworking for Women: Make Your Own Paddle

This FREE six-week woodworking class for women ages 13+ will take place at the Community Boat Shop downtown New Brunswick on Saturdays from 11am-12:30pm starting Saturday April 17 and running to Saturday May 22. Participants will learn several aspects of woodworking, including: preparing and laminating wood for construction; transferring the pattern and cutting the shape; shaping the shaft, grip and blade; sanding; and applying the finish. At the end of the session, participants will have a paddle to take home! Please do not sign up if you cannot commit to attending all class sessions. Registration is limited to six (6) participants. First come, first served.

Instructors for this session are Amber Hennes and Sarah Tomasello. Amber gained skills in woodworking through her work in theater design and scenic fabrication across the US. Sarah has taken classes in woodworking, and has been part of our community boat shop boat build since project inception.

Class sessions (registration for the April 17th session will enroll you in the rest of the series):

April 17

April 24

May 1

May 8

May 15

May 22

For more on the Community Boat Build. Many thanks to US Merchant Marine Naval Academy Crew Coach Derek Hartwick for project guidance.