Paul Bates is a shipwright and marine repair technician with over ten years of experience designing, building, repairing and restoring boats of all makes and models. Most recently he has been working on a marine project which seeks to lower environmental impacts. The project includes the creation of electric boats, that maintain the beautiful, old look of an original craft and integrate it with newer technology that will keep CO2 emissions and fuel costs down.
What did you do in high school that connects to what your career as a Shipwright?
In high school I did not take formal woodworking courses, my mom taught the women in trades and technology program at the local college and showed me how to use all types of woodworking machines and tools. This combined with taking machine shop class and automotive/welding in high school piqued my interest in aircraft mechanics. I took a co-op class (cooperative education) at an airport, which allowed me to assist in the restoration on a World War 2 training biplane called a Stearman, it had wings made of oak (wooden) with fabric wrapped around them and an aluminum fuselage which was also wrapped with fabric. It was a full restoration which took a little over 8000 hours.
What training or jobs did you complete previously that led to this career?
After high school I got into the film industry and built props and sets for different movies and commercials along with many short films. I did a lot of woodworking and painting, making big facades and props using a variety of wood products. I really enjoyed making things out of wood mainly because you can make almost anything out of it!
I really loved being by the water, so when I was offered a job working with boats I was in there! I started as a mechanics assistant and when an opportunity came up for me to work with wooden boats. I then attended courses at Quadrant Marine Institute which helped me gain a ton of useful knowledge about all aspects of boats, from fibreglassing and painting to mechanical and woodwork. This is a Red Seal program with amazing teachers.
What part of working with wood inspires you?
I love working on old boats and building new wooden boats – it is a privilege to see decades of old work come back to life. I endeavour to retain traditional practices and integrate new concepts to inspire others to keep up the old beauty with a new touch. We use many different species of wood to create a boat – from oak frames to fir and cedar planking that is found here in BC. We also use mahogany and numerous other woods found in different places around the world. Wooden boats have a story to tell – hidden in the intricate woodwork, grain and hours of thought and planning behind each placement and component.Bates Marine