Brooklyn Boatworks

By Sean Murphy ‘13

This semester several Webb students have found the time to get off campus and volunteer with Brooklyn Boatworks, a volunteer organization that helps inner city children to develop life skills through the building and use of small wooden boats.  The program was founded in 2005 under the leadership of Carl Persak (Webb ’96), co-founder of the yacht design firm Persak & Wurmfeld.  Its main effort is focused on teaching middle-school students how to build a small wooden sailboat over the course of the school year.  The idea is that we provide them the expertise, and they amaze themselves with what they are capable of, the culmination of their effort being a sail around the harbor in the boat they built!  The boats are plywood Optimist sailboats that are built from scratch.  The students complete the lofting of each piece, cutting, stitching, gluing and rigging of the boat.  About 15 students take part per school, usually with three volunteer teachers. 

This year four middle schools are participating: three in Brooklyn and one in Queens (Forest Hills).  As Webb students know a thing or two about boats, Samantha Griswold ’14 and Sean Murphy ’13 are volunteering at BCS in Brooklyn on Fridays, and some members of the freshman class are looking to volunteer on Tuesdays at the Launch School in Brooklyn.  Not only has the volunteering effort been appreciated by the students, but Webbies will undoubtedly benefit in the experience of helping others.  The gratifying nature of the program is not to teach the students how to build a boat, but to teach them confidence, teamwork, perseverance, and the value of hard work.  So far it has been an amazing experience, and we hope this will be the start of a long relationship between Webb and Brooklyn Boatworks.

Check out the Brooklyn Boatworks Website and “like” their Facebook page to keep updated!