Joe Malott spent much of last year working on a boat builder’s dream project: helping to build the America’s Cup vessel Abracadabra I. Not only did he manage to land this exciting position, but it was his first job after completing the boat building program at Honolulu Community College’s Marine Education and Training Center (METC). (See related story, p. 3.)
Malott learned a lot from the experience of working on a world-class yacht. “We worked with top of the line stuff; that’s not something you get to do everyday,” he enthuses.
The yachts are built using molds. A wooden structure is created in the shape of the boat, on top of which carbon fiber and other materials are placed. The structure is cooked under vacuum and eventually the internal mold is removed. The boat has to be built to a very close tolerance; it must be as light as possible and still stay within the strict race rules.
"We worked with top of the line stuff; that’s not something you get to do everyday"
Building the boat was a team effort. “All team members worked on a lot of different things,” Malott explains. He was involved in sanding, laminating, vacuum bagging (part of the cooking process), constructing the bulkheads, and much more.
Because of the nature of these specialized craft, there was some work he had never done before, but Malott says his training at METC served him well. “I already had a lot of the skills I needed,” he explains. “And for those I didn’t, my overall education made it a lot easier for me to learn.”
How does someone land such a prime job? Having the necessary skills to do the job was certainly the most important thing. However, a little luck – being in the right place at the right time – was involved, too. After completing the two-year boat-building program at METC, Malott was helping out at the school as a teacher’s aide when the students took a field trip to talk to the foreman of the Abracadabra I and II’s building team. When he heard that they would be hiring, Malott made a point of getting an interview and – because the foreman was impressed with him – he got hired.
"My overall education made it a lot easier for me to learn"
Malott had become interested in the METC program because he was looking for a career change. “I’d been working as a mover, and it was taking its toll,” he explains. “I had always liked boats, so I decided to give the program a try.”
The match was an excellent one, according to David Flager, Director of the METC and one of Malott’s professors. “Joe was the strong class leader that every teacher prays for,” Flagler says. “He was always setting a good example and encouraging others to do their best.”
The whole METC staff is very proud of Joe's success after graduation. “The foreman called me periodically to say what a great job Joe was doing,” Flagler says. “He went on to say that Joe could write his own ticket and travel the world building these state-of-the-art craft.”
For now, Joe is happy with the job he took after the America’s Cup work was completed. He is working for Windward Boats, the largest boat dealership in Hawaii. “I work as a marine technician,” Malott explains. “That involves installing motors, rails, cleats – that sort of thing.” As for traveling the world building boats, he certainly hasn’t ruled that out …
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