Pacia Life at Portland Station’s Wooden Boat Program is a voluntary vocational training experience with a wonderful story that began in New England and today continues at the confluence of the mighty Columbia and Willamette Rivers—Portland’s identity in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.
Pacia Life at Portland Station boats are primarily MacKenzie River Drift Boats, and are restored and beautifully prepared for sale by students wanting to learn basic carpentry skills and the more specific skills of repair/restoration of wooden watercraft. A complete wood shop with all of the hand tools and power tools are the arena for practicing these skill sets, and students can take a 4 or 12-week course, or continue in internship roles in the curriculum. Portland Station affiliates with the Wooden Boat Consortium in Portland, and participates in boat shows and building events with other educational STEM-focused student programs. Wintertime, the curriculum includes furniture making, keeping up with Portland’s vibe of “reuse repurpose recycle,” and we often mix the mediums of wood, steel, and stone.
Boats and waterways are alive at Portland Station, with current skilled staff members and the hand’s on experience brought by founder Sarah Persha’s childhood, the “sandpaper in hand” daughter of wooden boat builder Sid Koalkin. Sarah’s father Sid, known in Central Oregon as a wooden boat restoration man, began his boat building skills in New England, then continued as builder/co-designer of the Great Pelican on the San Francisco Bay. The final design was the modified wide transom MacKenzie River Drift Boat, modified to fit an outboard motor, as he was always an impatient angler, but eager explorer who needed a motor! Sid’s Wood Shop Sign still exists, from the Roycroft movement: Raise the stone and thou shalt find me; cleave the wood, and there am I.
Both young women and young men can be found in the wood shop and on the river after class or on weekends, with summer river time a place of fun, peace, and inspiration. Hop in the boat, anyone?