During his first-period class at Knightdale High School this spring – a carpentry class with teacher of the year Dennis Short – Brandon Skinner had an idea.
He and his two brothers, twin Bradley and younger brother Andrew, would whittle not just ornaments or wood letters, but they would construct a whole boat.
“I wanted to make it for my dad, because he does so much for us and I’m not really good with words,” Brandon Skinner said. “We built our mom a patio in the backyard a year ago. We’re pretty good with our hands.”
Short would agree. He’s built some rather large projects with his students, including homes with Habitat for Humanity, in the past, but this project was the guys’ idea, he said.
Brandon and Bradley Skinner, 18, who were well-known wrestlers at Knightdale High School, graduated this month. Their 16-year-old brother Andrew, a rising junior at Knightdale, continues the Skinner legacy.
The three teamed up to purchase materials and spent a mere three weeks during class period constructing the boat with the twins in the first period and Andrew Skinner in Short’s fourth period class.
With guidance from Short, they constructed and waterproofed a 12-foot by 4-foot boat and painted it a dark camouflage. Inside, a few seats, a storage space at the helm and some handmade oars complete the project.
According to Bradley Skinner and Short, the most difficult part was curving the wood at the helm.
“Other than that, it was pretty easy,” Bradley said.
The group experimented the seaworthiness of the boat in a small pond near the high school.
“It holds up 1,000 pounds,” Short, who has built one other boat years ago, said. “It worked perfectly.”
Short is proud of them and their Father’s Day gift.
“It was special. These three guys are just tremendous students,” he said. “This is something that will be with them for the rest of their life if they take care of it, and will have it to remember their school days.”
Now, in addition to maintaining their workout regime to prepare for wrestling at Campbell University in the fall, the Skinner boys will have an excuse to go fishing.
And they already have.
After finishing the project in May, the three transported it home and revealed the early Father’s Day gift to their dad, Rodney Skinner.
“It would have been too hard to keep it a secret for another month,” Bradley Skinner said. “We took it out to Falls Lake. It works wonderfully, better than what we expected initially. All four of us can fish on it, that’s the main reason that we built it is using it as a fishing boat.”
When it’s not afloat, the boat sits on a couple of sawhorses in the garage, a casual man-cave with an American flag and a weight room.
“It felt good doing something big for our dad,” Bradley Skinner said. The whole project was our way of saying thank you to our dad for everything that he’s done for us.”