Boat Building School Enhances Hands-on Program with Nigel Calder’s BoatHowTo Electrical Courses 

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB) and the online course platform announce a strategic partnership for technical education. All students of the NWSWB Marine Systems program get free access to the marine electrical online courses and resources at BoatHowTo. 

Veteran marine systems instructor Kevin Ritz has selected the technical BoatHowTo courses, developed by Nigel Calder and Dr. Jan Athenstadt, to augment the school’s hands-on Marine Systems curriculum. The BoatHowTo team and Ritz share a commitment to technical accuracy and keeping abreast of the rapid changes shaping the boating industry. According to Ritz, the BoatHowTo courses offer his students even more options for learning, based on their unique learning styles and varied prior knowledge and experience: “I am impressed that Nigel and his team have made Nigel’s decades of experience, formerly available through books and seminars, now available on demand. More of our younger students shy away from books and prefer videos on the internet. In fact, several have already reported they find the resource ‘awesome.’” 

About BoatHowTo 

Founded in 2020 by well-known author Nigel Calder and his business partner, Dr. Jan Athenstädt, is designed to be “the most dependable source of technical knowledge for sailors and boaters around the world”. The online courses and guides help boaters around the world save money, avoid hassle and frustration, achieve a more enjoyable life afloat, and reduce their carbon footprint. While initially intended for avid boaters who want to understand their boat’s systems and become self-reliant on the water, the in-depth educational videos lessons have quickly gained interest among professionals. An increasing number of surveyors and systems installers have signed up to stay on top of the relevant standards and learn from Calder’s and Athenstädt’s technical experience in the field. 

Nigel: “For years I have wanted to develop online electrical courses, but I do not have the necessary presentation skills. Jan has them in spades. The beauty of this format is we can build in a tremendous amount of graphics and interactive animations. And instead of the ten-year review cycle for my books, I can rapidly update the content in the increasingly fast-paced world of equipment and standards-based development.” 

Calder is known the world over for the books he has written on boat systems along with hundreds of magazine articles. He is currently the Technical Editor and/or Associate Editor of PassageMaker, Professional Boatbuilder, Sail, and Ocean Navigator magazines and a consultant on marine energy issues. He has recently joined marine energy systems company OceanPlanet Energy as a mechanism to continue his passion for constantly improving boat electrical systems. Calder is joined at BoatHowTo by Dr. Jan Athenstadt who shares his passion for boats and the technical systems on board. Dr. Athenstädt is the editor of a technical online magazine in Germany and the founder of, a marine electrical online store. He is responsible for presenting the content and guides students through dozens of online lessons enriched by hundreds of animations and photographs.

About the NWSWB’s Marine Systems program 

After years of teaching Marine Systems around the country, Ritz decided to establish a new Marine Systems program with a focus on hands-on practice where students learn to apply the theory to real world tasks. He found a ready home for the new program at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB) in Port Hadlock, Washington. Founded over forty years ago in the boatyard to teach wooden boatbuilding, the school remains focused on teaching craftsmanship through hands-on instruction. While Ritz’s Systems program goes far beyond wooden boats to address systems on boats of all hull types, he says the instruction stays true to the school’s values and mission. “Working on marine systems requires the same integrity and craftsmanship that’s demanded by all the marine trades – each decision can affect the integrity of the entire vessel.” He teaches his program on the school’s 8-acre waterfront campus in Port Hadlock, Washington in a new 4,800′ building dedicated to the program. The students’ learning experience extends to the nearby resources of the Port Townsend Boatyard, which hosts a uniquely deep bench of marine trades talent and a broad range of both recreational and commercial vessels. 

Ritz’s Marine Systems program is teaching its eighth cohort of students, who attend in order to learn the skills necessary to enter the trade. The program covers theory and hands-on application for most of the systems found on today’s boats. Regarding the collaboration with BoatHowTo, Ritz notes that for his students the online learning content is a highly relevant addition to the curriculum. In particular the

BoatHowTo courses’ focus on safety and keeping up to date with the latest advances in technology will help student’s to optimize for safety, efficiency and reliability in future professional projects. 

For more information about BoatHowTo, visit

For more information about the Marine Systems hands-on training, visit

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2 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    If I weren’t at the tail end of my boating life, I’d certainly consider a deep dive into the BoatHowTo marine electrical curriculum, and I understand that they will be adding a diesel engine maintenance course “sometime in 2024”.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Maybe more appropriate for boat owners: Nigel is giving “A Deep Dive into Boat Electrical Systems” weekend seminars in April and October. They will be in Portland, Maine, so that he and Ocean Planet Energy can bring lots of tools and equipment.

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