Career pathway. Léo has been captivated by the sea since childhood. After earning a technical certificate (BTS) in carpentry, he enrolled in a certificate of professional competence (CAP) program to become a shipbuilder, a profession he thought had disappeared.
While looking for an internship and then an apprenticeship, Léo met the team from Tourville, a nonprofit organization that had set itself the extraordinary challenge of building a replica of a 17th century ship named the Jean-Bart in Gravelines.
The project, blending history, culture and economics, kicked off in 2002 in a traditional village. The ship will be displayed in a living history museum dedicated Louis XIV’s navy and privateers. The project helps socially vulnerable people re-enter the workforce though two initiatives. The first in partnership with AGIR, a welfare-to-work organization supported by the city of Gravelines, allows for the placement of some 12 interns with a qualified shipbuilder. The second is a European-scale initiative funded by Interreg with two partner sites in England and Belgium working on similar projects.
My name is Leo, I have been an apprentice here since September. I grew up near a lock so I always saw boats. The setting was different as it was on a canal but I always liked it a lot. And I thought that kind of job no longer existed. I did carpentry before and when I found out that there was a high school that teached these skills, I decided to go there. So I finished my BTS and I move to Normandy to get my naval carpentry CAP.
Try to be a flush as possible and when the nails are almost at level you hit again. Make it smooth and neat. There are some millimeters left.
I’ll do the finishing touch with the little plane. All good, I’ll start now… see you later.
Leo is typically the kind of apprentice who has a great future ahead, because he loves his job, he is passionate, he’s clever and understands what he is told and he is completely autonomous.
I discovered the site last year when I had to do an internship for my CAP in navy carpentry. I came for a month doing a first internship and then the team accepted me as an apprentice. I still have to do one year before I graduate. The whole month I did here I was always impressed when I arrived on site. And even now when I see that we’re making progress, that we get to lift beautiful pieces and that it changes the appearance of the boat, it really makes me want to continue and see what’s next.
It’s unique in France, we had the Hermione in Rochefort, but it was a little smaller, and was from another navy era too. The navel carpentry today is more about pleasure boats or the fishing trawlers. But there isn’t another shipyard like this one in France. We select trees in the forest ourselves.
We really follow them from the forest to the shipyard here. If we have the opportunity to get already well-curved parts, which can fit the shapes that we will have on the boat, we must take the opportunity to have them.
I would like to continue the adventure, and to make it my job.