BRADEN RIVER — Just a day after his high school graduation, 17-year-old Nick Breitwieser found himself immersed, again, in a familiar scene.
There, amid Richard Platt’s engineering and manufacturing classes at Braden River High School, Breitwieser added touches of fiberglass paint to The Black Pearl, one of two sailboats he and a team of students have worked feverishly to complete over the last few months.
“If I wasn’t doing this, I would hate it,” Breitwieser said of being back in the classroom. “But, this is fun. I like working with my hands. It keeps me busy.”
Breitwieser spent three months working on the sailboat’s design, using specialized modeling software to work through design flaws, before he and a team of students — Alex McCoy, Brett Phillips, Abby Holmes, Skyler Banfill, Alex Patterson, Matt McKoan and Kyle Gramman — began constructing two sailboats one month ago. The students named their vessels The Black Pearl and The Flying Dutchman, in honor of their Pirate heritage.
The clancy sailboats each weigh about 85 pounds and hold up to two people. Once sails are added, they will be ready to brave the area’s waterways.
“You can sail this boat in a foot of water,” said Platt, adding the boats eventually can be reproduced and sold. “It’s ideal for (the area).”
Over the last four years in Braden River’s Engineering and Leadership Academy, Breitwieser has designed and built numerous products that were fairly easy to create and manufacture. But, Breitwieser said, he wanted to do “something bigger” to finish up his senior year. He wasn’t entirely sure what to build, however, until Platt suggested he design and build a sailboat.
Breitwieser and his classmates soon had opted “to go big, and to go grand” with their project.
“We saw a finished (sailboat),” Breitwieser said. “Everybody liked the idea. It was a nice design.”
Breitwieser used three-dimensional CAD design software, named SolidWorks, to design the boat and discover design flaws before the manufacturing of it began.
“The design process was a lot different because of the curves, the shape of the boat,” Breitwieser said. “You had to use (a type of modeling I’d never used before). That was completely new to me. You had to determine the angles of the curve and fit them into assembly.”
Since graduation, Breitwieser has been working on completing the hull of each boat and coating each vessel with a layer of fiberglass to make it waterproof, among other finishing touches. He is expected to finish the hull sometime this week or over the next few weeks, if needed.
“Seeing the whole boat come together is amazing,” Breitwieser said. “It’s amazing to see what it is now and how it started.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].