In addition to serving on the New Hampshire Boat Museum's board of trustees, Hank Why founded several successful community boat building programs that now serve the needs of specialized groups.

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Hank Why '59 has always loved boating, but his avocation is reaching new levels and audiences. A native of Pennsylvania, he made his way to New Hampshire, where he established a summer home in Wolfeboro. After a successful career as a mechanical engineer in the Philadelphia area, he retired to this sailor's dream of a location, where life in New Hampshire presented Why and his family with intriguing nautical opportunities. This setting provided a stable launching ground to share his passion with a new crew of diverse boat makers in training.

Beginning this original venture, Why became an active participant in the New Hampshire Boat Museum in 1998. In addition to serving on the museum's board of trustees, he founded several successful community boat building programs that now serve the needs of specialized groups.

He launched the women's kayak-building course in 2008, after coordinators from the museum's family program responded to interest in lessons that could serve this audience's particular ambitions. "Not being sure of their skills in woodworking, the women were a bit intimidated and preferred an environment where they could support each other," explains Why. The program quickly filled and reprised its success in 2009. Participants construct their own lightweight crafts, embellishing them with "patterns of paint and varnished bright work," each a jewel for nearby Lake Wentworth to behold.

Additional special groups have emerged from the museum. Families come together to work as a team to build their own crafts. Teenagers, most of whom are scholarship recipients, have their own program, giving them a chance to "be in charge of their destinies and master the mechanics of wind." This winter, Why will sponsor the start of an Antique Wooden Boat Restoration course with the goal of "demystifying the complexities of restoring wooden boats."

Posted January 2010

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