Carolina shipwright takes helm of CFCC’s boat building program

Before Mark Bayne made a career out of building wooden boats all over the East Coast, he started as a student in Cape Fear Community College’s boat building program in 1978.

Today, 34-years later, he’s back in the same classroom to lead the program into the future.

In August, Bayne was hired as the lead instructor of CFCC’s boat building program – one of CFCC’s most unique academic offerings located at its campus in historic downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.

Bayne came to the college with over three decades of professional boat building experience. Most recently, Bayne was the owner of Sea Island Boat Works in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. Throughout his career, he has built over 100 wooden boats of all shapes and styles, including the 140-foot Spirit of South Carolina in Charleston.

As a teacher, he enjoys the opportunity to share his professional experience to help students get started on their own future in boat building. Running his own boat shop has given Bayne a clear direction for students in the program. He wants to instill in them the same characteristics that he looked for in his own employees.

“I want my students to be ready to step into a professional boat building operation knowing the terminology, being able to use the tools safely and knowing the construction techniques so they can hit the ground running,” Bayne said.

CFCC’s program is structured much like a working boat shop. Students meet for five hours a day Monday through Friday. Over the course of three semesters, students learn a combination of traditional and contemporary boat building techniques. After graduation, students get jobs not only in boat building but in cabinet-making and other wood-working fields.

“The great thing about wooden boat building is that if you can build a wooden boat correctly, you can build anything,” Bayne said.

Students first learn how to work with the tools and use them safely. After learning the basics, they get started on building a boat. The goal is to begin by lofting a full-scale plan and ending the course with a completed boat. In the process, students will learn to work as a team and think critically to solve problems in order to get projects finished.

This semester, students are working to complete two projects from beginning to end. The first is a 19-foot Core Sound Sharpie designed by Brian Blake. The second is a 20-foot Carolina Spritsail Sharpie with plans provided by the N.C. Maritime Museum.

Bayne emphasized that it’s important for students to be familiar with the complete construction process to gain the proper skills, and to experience the sense of pride upon seeing the finished product.

“I want these students to have the self-confidence so when they finish the program they can say that they’ve built a boat from start to finish,” Bayne said.

On the future of boat building, Bayne is optimistic. He explained that despite the recent economic slowdown, boat building is a prominent industry along the coast of North Carolina from Wilmington to Manteo.

“Boat building has been good to me. My goal now is to make sure the next generation of boat builders get a solid start so they can begin their own careers,” Bayne said.

In addition to teaching in the program, Bayne will also organize the 2013 CFCC Wooden Boat Show, which is an annual celebration of boat building held in downtown Wilmington along the banks of the Cape Fear River. The next show will be held on April 20, 2013.

For more details about CFCC’s boat building program, call (910) 362-7151 or email