Throughout the world, stories are passed down, and art is created. For Tacoma Boat Builders, these stories are often tales of the water and its intricately tied relationship with humans and nonhuman life. Tales that stretch among a seemingly boundless amount of ideas, covering themes of exploration, survival, courage and heroism, war, prejudice, respect for nature, life and death. The TBB program is often the first encounter youth will have with the beauty of the water that is so integral to life in our region. This introduction to the natural environment gives youth the opportunity to relieve stress, boost creativity, engage in self-discovery and work together in a unique team building setting. Our boats and the stories that come with them are an integral part of those opportunities.
Over the years, TBB has been fortunate enough to take in boats that have transformed the very way we build relationships with our youth. Some become part of the TBB fleet, others return to their stewards and caretakers in service to other organizations and people. Each boat we take in creates more opportunities to share the history of those who’ve sacrificed and lost, the vast cultural interpretations of water, and the mystique of our port city.
Recently we’ve shared our space with a number of historically significant boats. The Vérité has a rich history dating back to the 1700s. The 38’ boat is a replica of a French Admiral’s gig that was captured in Bantry Bay, Ireland in 1796 during a battle between the French and the English. Vérité works in service to the Women on the Water and our neighbors down the road at Sea Scouts. Elder Spirit was given to TBB from the Cowichan Maritime Museum as a gift to further the program’s ability to empower young people to develop life-skills, leadership abilities, and community spirit. Plume, Patience, Spirit, and Skullich are a few of the other boats in service at TBB adn are used to spark conversations within our community.
For the youth who float around the shop, dancing through ideas in their heads, the expression of culture is highly encouraged. Woodworking, waterway exploration, and oral tradition are the media in which we celebrate our common and diverse cultures. Youth have the opportunity to learn and create various artifacts from Native American cultures, craft and share culturally significant items of their own and engage in historical discussions about the many groups of people who have relied on our waterways for thousands of years — all while floating in the same spot where these histories occurred.