Mark Sauer

Mark is a master shipwright who attended the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend, WA.

mark“As a youngster, Mark’s family had Chris Craft cruisers in Lake City, Minnesota. It was at this early age that Mark learned the skills of small craft maintenance. In 1967 the Sauer family acquired a lake cottage that came with a 1951 Chris Craft 19′ Holiday. Now springtime varnishing became a yearly ritual. In time his interest in working on wooden boats grew into a business. He worked out of a heated barn on an estate that overlooked the St. Croix River. His rent to the owner was nominal in exchange for taking care of the estate property. It was during this time that Mark expanded his knowledge by reading the works of Herreshoff, Alden, Stewart, MacIntosh and others. During the 1980s he made his living fixing sailboats and power craft. He came to the realization that he wanted to improve his skills to the next level. In 1990 Mark enrolled in the Northwest School of Boat Building in Port Townsend, WA. After more than a year of study, he could now build wooden boats and more importantly work on existing craft with intimate knowledge of their construction. He likes to check his work with his peers, do the lines and offsets for a design drawing and then, taking this information, build a half hull model. He then lofts the boat (expanding the design to full size drawings) and builds the boat piece by piece from the loft floor. This building experience helps you understand each aspect of the process along with the attendant 10,000 questions to be answered. In 1992 he founded the St. Paul Shipwrights, and by 2003, there were two shop locations: one that can handle boats up to 30′, and one that can take boats up to 55′.”

(Excerpted from The BoatHouse – Newsletter of the Bob Speltz Land of Lakes Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, The BSLOL Restorers – “The St. Paul Shipwrights – Mark Sauer” by Steve Merjanian, April 2003)

A number of boats worked on by St. Paul Shipwrights have gone on to be award-winners – the 1959 Riva 26′ Tritone won four awards in 2002 and was the featured boat at the 2003 Minneapolis Boat Show, the 1925 Hacker 25′ Dolphin has won six between 1998 and 2000, and a 1955 Chris Craft 22′ Semi-enclosed Cruiser took Best in Show on Lake Vermillion in 2000.


Brian McDermott

Our resident “geek” and a graduate of St Paul Technical College with a degree in Advanced Cabinet Design and Fabrication. His prior experience includes working as head finisher and stager for Apostle Fixtures. He is an overall outdoor enthusiast and enjoys building/operating remote control planes and boats, camping, fishing and hunting.

brian“Getting the privilege to work on antique wooden boats has been a wonderful experience, getting to work on boats in a beautiful park (our shop at Watergate Marina located in Crosby Regional Park), priceless! Not many people get to see wooden boats. I am lucky enough to work on the rarest of them and make them better than new. From beginning to end, the Gentleman’s Racer has been a wonderful learning experience. It has turned out to be one of my finest boat finishes to date.”


Rick Wittman

Rick started his wood-working career in his dad’s sign shop where he learned painting and finishing all through high school and for a few years after. When a friend bought a classic Chris Craft Cabin Cruiser, he was so impressed that he set out to find his own boat to restore. While out looking for parts and products, he stumbled across St. Paul Shipwrights where, after meeting our team, he talked his way into a job.

rick“It was one of the best moves I’ve made yet. Being able to work on, enjoy and preserve these boats for others to enjoy is an awesome experience. My favorite project this year was working on the Minnehaha Steamship. I was fascinated with old steam ships and boats as a kid, so it was a dream come true.”


Rebecca Peterson

Frebeccarom boat flipping to book keeping, Rebecca is our office manager who keeps things moving along. She came to St. Paul Shipwrights from Corporate America and can say with conviction that a bad day in the boat shop is infinitely better than a good day in an office cube. Having no knowledge of the Antique/Classic Boat world prior to working at Shipwrights, she now knows her chines from her knees and, being the smallest of the bunch, has, on occasion, acted as “bilge monkey.” Could there be a more fun job out there? She thinks not!