Refastening a Wooden Hull - Season 4, Episode 1 Now Available!

About Mastering Skills

With over a century of experience, our Mastering Skills crew has the knowledge to guide you through your boat building journey. Everything month, host Rich Hilsinger and company will bring you helpful tips, techniques, and various approaches to building a small wooden boat with your own hands, as well as other woodworking projects.

“This series is fantastic. I have taken multiple courses at WoodenBoat School, and yet I find these videos incredibly compelling. Greg is top shelf for sure, and Rich’s narration is right on. I could not stop watching.” – Steven M.

“Excellent program, excellent teachers!!!” – Donald S.

Our Team

Meet The Crew


Greg Rössel

Greg grew up cruising on the waters of New York Harbor, spending his time in the boat yards on the south shore of Staten Island where economics (more than anything else) made wooden boats the craft of choice. He makes his home in Maine where he specializes in the construction and repair of small wooden boats. Since graduating at the top of his class in boatbuilding technology from Washington County Vocational Technical Institute, Greg has had a multifaceted career. For several years, he was an assistance restorer for a major private collection of antique runabouts and airplanes. Then he spent another couple of years as an instructor and assistant director at Maine Maritime Museum’s Apprenticeshop program. All the while, he was building his own shop at home in Troy, Maine, and tackling a wide variety of small-boat construction and restoration projects.

Learn more about Greg in his Crew Interview


Eric Dow

Eric Dow was brought up a Maine fisherman, but pursued boatbuilding “as a means of being able to sleep later in the morning.” He graduated from the marine department at Washington County Vocational Technical Institute, Eastport, Maine, and for over 50 years has been building and repairing boats in Brooklin, Maine. He has built many of the half models on display in the WoodenBoat Store, was intimately involved with the development of the Nutshell Pram kits, taught boatbuilding and half model classes at WoodenBoat School for many years, authored numerous articles for WoodenBoat magazine, and, these days specializes in the construction of the Haven 12 1/2 daysailer.


Milo Stanley

Milo taught himself to sail at a young age, and has spent a good part of his life building, repairing, and messing about in boats. He was a WoodenBoat School staff member for five years, working on both our waterfront and shops. In 2011, he spent four months sailing from the Caribbean Sea to Maine on a 130’ schooner. He has an upcoming article in WoodenBoat about his experience while at Middlebury College in Vermont, building Japanese boats under Douglas Brooks. Post college he spent time cruising, and has written about it in WoodenBoat WB 275’s Rime of the Youthful Mariner. Milo has worked at various times as a house carpenter, a boatbuilder, commercial fisherman, musician, and writer. When not at home in Maine, he can be found somewhere offshore in the North Atlantic on his 35’ wooden sloop PROMISE.


Rich Hilsinger

Originally from Philadelphia, Rich Hilsinger first arrived at WoodenBoat School as a student back in 1983, and he’s been in Brooklin ever since. He became the school’s shop manager in ’84 and then stepped into the position of WoodenBoat School Director in 1990 and enjoyed bringing insight, energy, and full-time dedication to the school for 38 years. Woodworking became a part of his life after attending college in Pennsylvania, and he immersed himself into house carpentry and restoration, timber frame construction, and cabinetry. The “boat bug” bit while Rich wintered in the Caribbean in the 1970’s. He served as ship’s carpenter on the four-masted bark SEA CLOUD, assisted on yacht deliveries, did wooden boat repair, and eventually found his way to Maine. He joined a crew building a 65’ topsail schooner at North End Shipyard in Rockland and worked 3 winters at Brooklin Boat Yard. Rich retired from WoodenBoat in 2021 and transitioned to hosting the Mastering Skills with WoodenBoat video series since its inception in 2021. Sailing, exploring Maine, gardening, reading, and volunteering in the Brooklin community all continue to play an important part in his life these days.


Truman Forbes

Truman Forbes is one of the co-founders of OS Media, based out of Nashua New Hampshire. OS Media develops brand video content for companies across New England who are looking for top quality, cutting-edge marketing materials. See more of their work at www.OS.Media.

If you’ve noticed that neat “WoodenBoat Campus Video Postcard” video on our WoodenBoat Store site (homepage, scroll down), you’ve seen Truman’s work. For two years he was the staff videographer for WoodenBoat Publications, prior founding his own company. Truman has spent the majority of his life in Maine, filming New England landscapes, classic automotive vehicles, and of course, wooden boats.

Greg Bauer

Born and raised in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, Greg Bauer came to boatbuilding as a third career later in life. Before the boatbuilding bug bit hard, he worked for six years as a design draftsman for a metal fabrication shop and for ten years as an accounting manager of an auto parts manufacturer. A couple of sailing experiences on the Maine windjammer ROSEWAY led Greg to the world of wooden boats, and he soon enrolled at The Landing School in Kennebunkport, Maine. After graduating from their boatbuilding program, Greg joined the school’s staff as a graduate teaching assistant. He then spent three years as a joiner with Bruckmann Yachts in Mississauga, Ontario. Greg moved to mid-coast Maine in the spring of 2002 and spent nine years with the boatbuilding crew at French & Webb in Belfast, Maine. In the spring of 2011 he joined the staff at WoodenBoat School as Waterfront Manager and moved into the position of Shop Manager in the spring of 2020. Greg retired from WoodenBoat School in 2023 and now works full-time at Brooklin Boat Yard as a Project Manager.

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas grew up paddling the rivers and coast of North and South Carolina, playing in the mountains and trying find meaningful work while avoiding a real job. He has been a self-employed woodworker, cabinetmaker, furniture builder and boatbuilder for nearly 35 years. Being an avid sea kayaker and boater, Bill also designs sea kayaks, canoes, and other small boats. Bill teaches woodworking and boatbuilding in his own shop, at the WoodenBoat School and in other venues across the United States. Bill is a Registered Maine Guide, and holds a Wilderness First Responder certification. In addition to his shop classes Bill also leads on water kayaking and sailing classes. The variety of work Bill does: building, designing and teaching both in the shop and on the water, when coupled with his passion for the outdoors, helps to keep his skills rooted in real world experiences. And, it keeps him from getting bored. Bill lives, works, and plays in Maine.

Reed Hayden

Reed Hayden was introduced to boats at the age of 12 when he got his first summer job on the Hyannis, Massachusetts, waterfront. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from the University of Massachusetts and was employed by Amidon and Company in Sandwich, Massachusetts, eventually becoming the lead woodcarver there. He began his boatbuilding career at Ballentine’s Boat Shop in Cataumet, Massachusetts, and went on to work for Brooklin Boat Yard for 15 years as a carpenter. Reed received his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Maine in 2020 and currently owns and operates his own sign and marine woodcarving business in Surry, Maine.

Rollin Thurlow

Rollin Thurlow has been working on wooden boats professionally for over 40 years and taught at WoodenBoat School for 30 seasons. He started working on wooden canoes when he repaired canoes for Maine wilderness Boy Scout trips in the mid-1960s. After college and attending the wooden boat building program at Washington County Vocational Technical Institute, Eastport, Maine, Rollin formed a partnership with Jerry Stelmok to build wooden canoes. In 1984 Rollin stated his own company, The Northwoods Canoe Company, which builds and restores a wide variety of wooden boats and canoes. In addition to his boatbuilding work, Rollin has authored several articles for WoodenBoat magazine, co-authored The Wood & Canvas Canoe with Jerry Stelmok, and has produced two videos, Steambending for Woodworkers and Building the Atkinson Traveler, a Wood/Canvas Canoe – all available from The WoodenBoat Store.

Jane Ahlfeld

The sailing bug caught Jane Ahlfeld while vacationing on one of the Maine windjammer schooners. She decided to take a leave from elementary school teaching…….and has yet to return. She shipped out on the MARY HARRIGAN, a 50’ schooner, as mate to help teach Cruising Boat Seamanship for WoodenBoat School in the Caribbean and Maine. In ’93 and ’94 she taught a course on small boat seamanship on the local boats of Bequia. Since 1989 she has returned to Brooklin each summer to teach on WoodenBoat School’s waterfront. When not on boats, Jane is a computer consultant. She has a Masters in Education and holds a U.S. Coast Guard license.

Clint Chase

Clint Chase is a former geologist, science teacher, meteorologist, and now small-boat designer and builder based in Saco, Maine. After a stint in college and high school teaching, he fused his education background with boatbuilding when he headed programs for the Compass Project in Portland, Maine. During that tenure he supervised and built over 100 small boats with kids and adults, witnessing every conceivable mistake a fledging boatbuilder could impart on their boat. (His favorite mantra is “always make new mistakes.”) Then, at the start of the 2008 economic slump, he did what any sane person would do: started his own boatbuilding and boat kit business! Currently, Clint runs his Chase Small Craft business making boat kits and building small boats. He avidly canoes, rows, and sails and spends as much time as possible with his wife and two kids.

Shawney Dow

Born and raised in Brooklin, ME, Shawney Dow spent lots of time as a kid hanging out at her father’s boat shop. Growing up, she caught on quite quickly to all the myriad activities taking place in the well-known boat yard located in the center of Brooklin. It wasn’t long before Shawney started working part-time for extra pocket money. In 2016, she became a full-time employee focusing on the painting and varnishing component of Eric’s business. Responsible for over 40 classic wooden boats, Shawney is well-known for her creativity, attention to detail, and commitment to a quality finish. When not working on boats, Shawney enjoys painting on canvas, crafting home-made jewelry, and spending time with her daughter and many pets. In the off-season, she is in high demand as an interior house painter.

James Macdonald

James Macdonald is spending his life in play clothes, happily creating in wood for over 40 years now. He began woodworking professionally in 1981, and before starting his own business in 1988 spent time working in various shops as a moldmaker, guitarmaker, cabinetmaker, ship’s carpenter, and boatbuilder. Upon opening his own place, Jim began building custom furniture which features inlay work. In the early 1990s he was taught the double-bevel cutting style of marquetry by Silas Kopf, and has gone on to teach this technique, also using it to create art and embellish electric guitar designs. Clients have included the Gibson Custom Shop, Petros Guitars, Circa Guitars, and Hinckley Yachts. His Allman Brothers Tribute Guitar is in the collection of their Big House Museum in Macon, Georgia. He teaches marquetry at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine, and has also taught workshops at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the Carpenter’s Boat Shop, WoodenBoat School, and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. An avowed lake sailor, Jim sails at home on Unity Pond and has enjoyed sail-camping on Moosehead Lake and Lake Champlain. He has had a string of interesting wooden boats–a 1970s owner-built 22′ Wharram Hina catamaran, a 1957 23′ AR True Rocket centerboard sloop, and currently a 1948 Rhodes 18 centerboard sloop. He also, on a day-to-day basis, likes to explore all surroundings for their imagined possibilities, and can’t help but get his hands working with tools and materials to create just for the joy of it.

Hans Vierthaler

Descended from grandparents who logged over 100,000 nautical miles, Hans Vierthaler has spent over 25 years sailing the coast of Maine. His love affair with boats started when he spent six years working for a sailboat rental company in Deer Isle, Maine, where he took care of a small fleet and taught sailing to vacationing summer residents. He then became interested in larger vessels and crewed on the schooners NATHANIEL BOWDITCH, AMERICAN EAGLE, BILL OF RIGHTS, and NEW WAY, as well as other, smaller boats. Fifteen years ago he joined the crew at Brooklin Boat Yard as a rigger and carpenter, and in 1992 Hans earned his 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard license. In 1994 he fulfilled a longheld dream and purchased the John Alden ketch ABIGAIL. After many wonderful years sailing the coast and teaching aboard ABIGAIL, he sold her in 2016. Hans bought ACTRESS, a 75′ brigantine, in 2017 and taught aboard this vessel for two years before selling her in 2019. He has enjoyed teaching at WoodenBoat School for 23 years.