Wooden Boat School

The Wooden Boat School has a new captain at the helm, Ron Dierolf, who has come on board with a clear vision of the future.  Individuals and small groups can now enroll to build a variety of small vessels including a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or passagemaker dinghy.  To get involved, contact Ron at 850-653-2500 or via email at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  We’ll be happy to discuss your goals and objectives, and to help you build the boat you have always wanted.

One of our ideal classes for beginners or families is the weekend canoe or "pirogue" project. The boat is simple and children 10 years and up can participate in the construction, but it is not a toy. This is a genuine canoe suitable for lakes, ponds and other protected waters. The project includes all the aspects of building a larger boat and will be a wonderful introduction to the art and science of boat building. Museum staff will guide the process but it will be your boat. Come on out and have fun and building a real boat.

The museum also offers classes on kit-boat building. Options include the Kaholo paddleboard and the Wood Duck kayak. Both are available in two or more lengths. The shop is evaluating other kits and boat designs plans are to offer several more options. 

You can also read more about our Wooden Boat School in each edition of our newsletter, archived on the “News” page.

While all this is going on the masts and bright work on the Heritage, our flagship, are being varnished. If you stop by the museum you might catch Mike Anderson up the mast with a brush and can of varnish.

The introduction of a wooden boat building and maintenance program has been a subject of much discussion and planning at the Maritime Museum since the museum was re-founded in 2007. All of this preparation work is, at last, coming to fruition. We have researched numerous other museum and professional wooden boat building programs since 2007. From this ongoing research, we have, over the years assembled the key elements to launch this educational program expansion as follows:

Overall Vision and Leadership  

The vision for this program has been developed by collaboration of the AMM Board of Directors and Staff to achieve a long term sustainable program that draws local residents and visitors into the rebirth of traditional maritime skills in Franklin County which will lead into new opportunity for jobs and recreation.  The goal is to see the program grow over the years to cover the spectrum of wooden boat building from these smaller initial vessels into much larger craft such as commercial fishing boats and paddlewheel craft reminiscent of the 1800s.  We also see the emerging opportunity coming from very high end yacht building and renovation work that can be done in Apalachicola as we build a program that offers skills and talent like no other port on the Gulf Coast.


Development of the boat building shop at the AMM  

This shop was completed this year and incorporates a dust collection system, safety power disconnects, compressor and lines for air tools and a viewing area behind glass for visitors to watch work underway without being in the shop.  A covered addition was recently completed for outdoor construction.


Procurement state of the art equipment as required for precision craftsmanship

Over $30,000 in multi-function power tools are now in place and operational at the AMM workshop covering the spectrum of boatbuilding needs.

Developed a curriculum for parallel boat building programs to support long term and short term projects and involvement. 

The course offerings include long term volunteer programs and shorter term programs to allow participants to build their own boats.


Faculty and Staff

Ron Dierolf is our Wooden Boat School Director.  Together with other museum staff we will not only build magnificent boats but also instill a sense of heritage, pride and the values of detail and precision that are valuable life skills.  Class schedules are designed to meet the availability of students and participants.

Visitors and participants will be able to see work in progress and learn of the traditional skills once common in Apalachicola before the age of fiberglass and the internal combustion engine. 

Future Vision

As the program matures and local knowledge and skills resources grow, we hope to begin designing our own craft that can be built to support both commercial and recreational seafood harvest, touring and enjoyment in Apalachicola Bay. 


Wooden Boat School Course Offerings




Stand Up Paddleboard


Wood Duck Kayak


Annapolis Wherry Rowing Shell