ILWACO, Wash. — Stephen Blasko’s carpentry class at Ilwaco High School offers terrific value.
• For everyone, the importance of safety around tools;
• For many, learning lifelong crafting skills;
• For some, the possibility of a lucrative career in a skilled trade.
One other attraction for students was at the forefront Thursday: Fun.
For one of the last projects each year, Blasko has his students design and build a wooden boat.
And not one shirks the details — because they are expected to sail their creation on Black Lake.
It was a matter of a few minutes before the boats were hauled from pickup beds by hand on to the dock. Their weight and cumbersome shapes meant it took considerable exertion to get them in the water. Some young sailors climbed in with confidence, others more gingerly.
All the ships were colorfully painted, christened with names like Swifty or SS Gary Come Home. Most had an oblong shape, many with sloping side panels. One clever designer angling for bonus points had added wooden paddle wheels that could be hand cranked.
Soon a mini fleet was paddling around, with students showing off their creations, while trying not to bump their neighbors.
Arianna Bell took charge paddling her sturdy vessel as it left the dock, then offered to change places with Anderson Stoddard, who was clinging onto the sides. She stood up, he stood up, the boat started to tip, he shook his head and sat down sharply, apparently happy to remain at his post amidships.
Worried chatter reverberated all around the enclosed dock area.
“It’s making my shoes wet!”
“You’re getting water in the boat!”
Not everyone enjoyed success. Shasta Stolle and Aaron Farrarr appeared stoic as they hauled their water-filled boat back onto dry land and its final resting place.
All this fun was observed by two members of the South Pacific County Technical Rescue Team, who were close on hand in ocean kayaks ready to assist anyone whose experiment ended in extreme dampness. Several school staff and parents, all in required life vests, were on the dock ready to assist, too.
Blasko surveyed the activity with his characteristic smile of satisfaction.
“This is great!” he said. “We have got kids fishing and we have got all the boats in the water. The kids have been working on this for six weeks, but some were still painting right up to this morning.”