Home | Articles | Links | Projects | Columns | Designs | Boat Index

Adventures in Boatbuilding
Things you can do with a little wood and glue.
by Joe Leinweber alizae_j@yahoo.com
(see construction log)

jr16.jpg (16900 bytes)Jaguar, Ferrari, Porsche. Names that pass through my head at least 50 times a day without a doubt. So of course when I set out to build a boat I wanted it to be sleek, sporty and with a little edge like these cars. It all seemed attainable until I got to the motor when I realized that a motor with that much power on a 12 ft John boat would sink the boat before you could ever get it running. So the boat which was going to be designed to pick up chicks... was demoted to only being able to pick up fish.

jr02.jpg (19236 bytes)In January of 2000 I was faced with a challenge of building a project in one of my shop classes at Harper High School. My friend Dan Ellis and I decided to do a project together, but we were shooting for something more than a wooden toolbox. We were talking to my dad one day when we tossed around the idea of how cool it would be to build a boat. We weren’t very sure of how serious we were about it but about 2 weeks later we had most of the materials and a set of plans for a Jon jr. by Jim Michalak. We worked only on Sunday afternoons, just me, Dan and my dad. The first Sunday we got the bulkheads put together and lined them up along the floor to get a look at how the boat would be set up.

jr11.jpg (16965 bytes)The next weekend we positioned the bulkheads to where we could attach the sides. We swapped bulkheads around for what seemed like forever until the boat had the symmetry of a finely cut diamond.

A few weekends were skipped due to conflicts but the next couple of weekends we did little things like sanding and finally we put the bottom on during the last Sunday we worked on the boat. The next step was to move the unfinished boat from my Dad’s shop to our shop class at the school. We did a portion of the complicated work at my dad’s shop with his help, but who wouldn’t. This was our first boat and I have a father who has built 5 boats and going on his sixth, we would have been idiots not to use his help. Of course we did most of the work. He was just there to make sure we didn’t make the mistakes that beginner boatbuilders make. Everyone was amazed at our project. Our own shop teacher, Doug jr14.jpg (17499 bytes)Townsend had little faith that we would even bring a boat to the shop, but the look on his face when hw saw it was priceless. We worked on it slowly due to the fact that we only had an hour and a half every other day but we finally got to the painting stage. We used a navy blue for the sides and bottom, but we used a primer gray color for the skids, gunwales, inwales, the breasthooks, and the rest of the trim. Everyone at school doubted that it would float and we didn’t find out until a few days ago. I brought the boat home the second to last day of school in late May and it sat there until late July. Dan has been getting ready to go to college and we have both been working every day so this was our first real chance to take the boat out. jr15.jpg (28131 bytes)We took it down to the Ingram Dam which is about 30 miles from where we live. My dad let us use his brand new motor which is a 4 stroke 4 horsepower Honda and lucky for us, the boat didn’t sink. He would have killed us if we lost his motor. We cruised around for awhile and he snapped the pictures that you see and then he left us on our own... Big Mistake. There was a store right up on the road next to the Dam and we decided to go pull up to a dock and go get something to drink. As we cruised up to the dock Dan shut off the engine and were heading straight for the corner of the dock. I thought to stick my foot out but we both figured the boat would withstand the blow. Sure enough, there was no bump. The corner of the dock cracked the bow transom right in half. No water came in the boat so we cruised around for another 20 minutes laughing the whole time. We went back to Dan’s truck, loaded it up and left. I’m kind of disappointed that Dan is leaving jr17.jpg (23982 bytes)in about a week and we might not get to do that again for a while. One of these days I would really like to build another boat, but hopefully a faster one. But we night have crashed a faster boat even worse.

Either way, driving a boat that I helped to build, and building it are two experiences that I’ll never forget. The waters are only safe until next time.

See construction log


Home | Articles | Links | Projects | Columns | Designs | Boat Index