September 2019

Reader Built Boat

The Kingfisher Elective

Glenn Joyner, after 43 years as an educator, decided to retire and delivered his notice of retirement to the administrators of John Paul II Catholic High School (known as JPII) in Greenville, North Carolina. Glenn had served as the school’s first principal when it opened in 2010, and a few years later he took on a position as an English teacher. The school community was reluctant to let him go, and at the annual spring banquet one of the school’s benefactors asked Glenn what it would take to get him to stay. Glenn said, half joking, “Build me a boatshop on campus and let me teach boatbuilding instead of English.” The school took the deal, built a campus boatshop, and Glenn stayed on.

Photographs by or courtesy of Glenn Joyner

Rolling the hull upright was an occasion that merited a class photo.

His idea wasn’t completely out of the blue. For the previous four years, he had conducted boatbuilding night classes for JPII students in his backyard boatshop. Each year, between January and May, the students who gathered in Glenn’s barn built and launched a new outboard skiff, starting with a the 15′ Diablo designed by Phil Bolger and Harold “Dynamite” Payson, the 14′6″ Little Moby by Charles Wittholz, the 16′ Shoestring by Karl Stambaugh, and finally the 16′ San Juan Dory by David Roberts. The students were enthusiastic and undaunted when they finished a boat only to discover it was too wide to get it out of the shop. They just took the door off its hinges and cut out a bit of the wall.

The school’s new shop has the luxury of two garage doors, each big enough to move boats in and out without cutting into the walls. The 7’6″-wide Kingfisher has a few inches of clearance on either side.

Glenn’s class at JPII is now among the most popular electives, and he has twice as many students as he had at home. That’s 10 students, a healthy percentage of the school’s 120-student population. They come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds; some have never used power tools or been aboard a boat and very few have even seen a wooden boat.

Trailered up, the Kingfisher is ready for the water. Along the wall are two other student-built boats: a Rubens Nymph and a Payson’s Pirogue.

As the boatshop got up and running, students built a Rubens Nymph, a 7′9″ pram designed by Bolger and a 13′ Payson’s Pirogue designed by “Dynamite” Payson. The Kingfisher 18, built to plans from Glen-L, is the first big boat to emerge from the shop. To power the deep-V plywood hull the school acquired a rebuilt 90-hp Johnson outboard. The fuel tank went out of the way under the floorboards to add to the boat’s stability.

With the project nearing completion, the student builders gather for the finishing touches.

Launch day for each new boat is a big day at JPII, and with the Kingfisher’s 7′6″ beam it helped that the new boatshop has two garage doors. There was no delay getting the boat out and on its way to the water. Once it was afloat, the boat moseyed from the launch out to open water where the throttle could be opened wide. It took off with exhilarating speed, and the V bottom provided a smooth ride. None of the students who were along for the ride had ever gone so fast in a boat.

Teacher Glenn Joyner backs the Kingfisher away from the ramp as class boatbuilders enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Soon after the boat was launched, it was purchased by the parents of two JPII students, but there will be more boats and more students, and it may be a long time before Glenn submits another notice of resignation.

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