Skol ar Mor: train a new generation of highly skilled shipwrights

These last few years, a small team led by Mike Newmeyer, has been preparing the foundation of a new wooden boat-building school "Skol ar Mor"(Breton for School of the Sea). The goal is the creation of a new generation of highly skilled shipwrights. As well as preserving this unique expertise, they have also taken on the challenge keeping alive and sustainable all traditional maritime skills, the promotion of the construction and maintenance of wooden boats and most importantly, the need to give the pubic at large the pleasure that is to be gained from boats that have a character and soul.

The school will be established in a renovated wooden “salorge” (a warehouse for the storage of salt) in quaint port of Kercabellec in the town of Mesquer, France. Located near the mouth of the Loire River on the southern coast of Brittany, this magnificently preserved site is nestled between the Côte Sauvage (the savage rocky coast) and the Marais Salant (the salt marshes) of the Presqu’Ile of Guérande where salt has been cultivated traditionally for more than a thousand years.
Skol ar Mor will be organized using the same instructional methods as those of the famous Apprenticeshop which has been so successful in the U.S. over the last 40 years, and of which Mike Newmeyer was a former director. The students of Skol ar Mor will prepare for the exam to obtain their French shipwright’s Brevet Professional diploma in a two year experiential education program. This training program is an extension of the existing CAP diploma which is presently taught in four technical secondary schools and in the continuing education program of the “Ateliers de l'Enfer” in Douarnenez, who is a close partner of Skol ar Mor. International cooperation and exchange will also be a priority, with a diversity of boats from throughout the world being built and an exchange program with similar institutions in Europe and abroad.
The second General Assembly of Skol ar Mor was held Saturday, January 29, 2011. It was an opportunity for a thorough exchange with French wooden boats builders whose future development is closely linked to the ability to recruit excellent professionals. There are still many obstacles to overcome before the school is up and running, but the opening is scheduled for September 2011.
Of course I am contributing to this important initiative for our maritime heritage.

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