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The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum is, for the first time, offering an opportunity for boat enthusiasts and aspiring artisans to dive into the world of traditional boatbuilding. For four days in August, the organization will be running a class teaching participants how to build a traditional Essex salt marsh dory of their own.

No prior experience is necessary, and the course, running from August 14 to 17, is suitable for all skill levels. All tools and materials will be provided, so participants can focus on honing their boatbuilding skills and connecting with the time-honored artistry of the craft. The cost of the course is $1,800 for the boat and the first student and $200 for an additional student.

Led by expert builder Jeff Lane, this hands-on course provides an introduction to the fundamentals of traditional boatbuilding and woodworking, with the addition of modern epoxy techniques. Participants will have the unique experience of crafting their very own Essex salt marsh dory, a capable and versatile boat designed by the skilled craftsman Charles A. Burnham.

The Essex salt marsh dory is perfect for single-handed rowing, and its compact design allows for easy stacking and transportation on car roof racks. With its light build, it can be easily hauled in and out of the water by one person.

“Preserving our maritime heritage and fostering a culture of artisanry lies at the core of [our] mission,” said KD Montgomery, executive director of the museum and historical society. “We are thrilled to offer this dory building class, providing a unique opportunity for individuals to immerse themselves in the time-honored tradition of boatbuilding while creating their own bespoke masterpiece.”

For more information and to reserve your spot, please visit or contact Montgomery at

EHSSM is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich maritime heritage of Essex, Massachusetts. Through engaging exhibits, educational programs, and hands-on experiences, EHSSM connects visitors with the traditions of shipbuilding, fishing, and maritime culture that have shaped this historic community for centuries.