Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

MBT – Apprentice Boat Builder


Hi I’m Dave Sommerville, I’m twenty years old, and I’m
an apprentice shipwright. A shipwright is basically
someone that maintains a boat,
renovates, modifies. I do carpentry, fibreglass work,
depending on what boat’s you’re
working on. It could be anything. I’ve refitted out gallies and
cabins. Done teak-laid decks,
fibreglass repairs, minor and
major ones. Cleaning boats sometimes just
buffing and polishing. Anti-fouling boats, painting the
bottom of em’ to keep the
barnacles off. Spray-painting repairs, varnish
work. I’ve always been on boats and around boats since
as long as I could remember. I did alright at school.
When I was in year ten
planning on going to university, I wanted to do industrial
design, and that was my original
plan. I only found out about this
about twelve months
before I finished school. But I’ve always been on boats.
And yeah a friend of the family
did this and he put me onto this
job. I started when I finished year
twelve. And in 2003 I started my
apprenticeship. It’s a four year apprenticeship
Three years at going to TAFE one day a week, and one year
just completely on tools. I do all kinds of stuff at TAFE
at the moment. I’ve been doing
marine drafting which is pretty
complicated just the drawing of boats and
I’ve been doing traditional
timberwork, planking and fibreglassing.
Doing spray repairs and some
metalwork. Boats are generally completely
made from fibreglass now, timber isn’t really used.
Fibreglass is stronger, doesn’t
rot. That’s just the way
it’s done now. Most of the stuff that I’ve
learnt I don’t just do on the
job. A, TAFE teaches you safety,
occupational health and safety
stuff guidelines that you should
follow by and how materials can be carcinogenic and affect
you and what precautions should
be taken. And they answer any questions
that your boss might not know
the answer to. But yeah most of the stuff I’ve
learnt, I’ve learnt on the job. Mal’s my boss. He took me on as
an apprentice when I left
school. I will finish my trade but, I
don’t know, have any big plans. Yeah if I pursued naval
architecture I could see myself
working at Garden Island for the Navy
or something like that, designing the boats for them. It’s a pretty interesting job
I’m always doing something
different every day. And out on
the water, in the sun I’ve worked all over Sydney. Just recently we had to deliver
a boat that we’d been working on at this marina to
the Gold Coast. So we took that up there
for the owner, yeah. He flew us back, so
that was pretty good. The best bits about the job are
driving boats around for our
customers. Some of them are
multi-million dollar boats. Worked on some pretty big ones.
Four million dollars I think was
the biggest one I’ve worked on. Most of this stuff I do is just
people who have a lot of money, just working on their toys,
that’s basically it. I know people that work at
Garden Island that do work
on the public transport on the ferries and The Spirit
of Tasmania and the bigger
boats like that. It’s an interesting career.
It’s pretty diverse like I
have lots of different skills where if I had just gone with
doing plumbing or carpentry I would only have those skills
where as a shipwright I can
do a bit of everything. My advice if someone was
pursuing the, this trade would
be try to get a job outdoors. Don’t get stuck in a shed in
the boat building side. It’s interesting always
doing something different. And TAFE can be hard at times. There’s a lot of different stuff
we do. But yeah it’s, it’s a
good job to do. Not very many people know
about this when I introduce
myself as a shipwright, I rarely meet anyone
that knows what that is. So I think just coz people
don’t know about it, they wouldn’t know
to pursue a job in it. Yeah, there’s a pretty big
demand for shipwrights as
it’s a pretty unknown trade. And yeah we’re busy all
the time, always got work. So, yeah it’s a good
job to get into. I’ve got job security coz
yeah it’s so busy all the time. But yeah I’m happy where I am.

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