After five years, Caleb Ebsworth has just become Pinnacle Boats’ first, and Whitianga’s first, locally-trained, fully qualified, apprentice aluminium boat builder.
“I just really like working with aluminium,” says Caleb. “Everything starts with a flat sheet of aluminium, and turns out like this,” he explains, looking with pride at the boats around the workshop. The hundreds of individual parts are cut from sheet aluminium by a CNC machine, and it’s Caleb’s job to assemble them together into a complete boat. Working on a mixture of custom boats, and what he calls “production” boats made by Pinnacle for other companies, Caleb says he really appreciates the experience he’s gained over his apprenticeship.
It’s the finishing though, that Caleb says is the hard part. Grinding and sanding the completed hull to a mirror-like finish isn’t just painstaking, time consuming work, it’s messy. “That’s when you get all of the dust and mess,” he says, “but the finished result is worth every minute that it’s taken to get to this stage.”
Pinnacle Boats Managing Director, Alistair McEwen, says it’s been really great to be able to contribute to this community through an apprenticeship, and see Caleb emerge as an NZQA Level-Four Qualified aluminium boat builder. He sees Caleb not just as an asset to the business, but a role model for young locals looking for careers.
Asked about the best part of the job, Caleb doesn’t hesitate; “It’s seeing something you’ve worked on, out on the water, being used,” he says.