This adventure started one day at work when a friend named Jarred had a copy
of Woodenboat on his toolbox. I started looking at an almost forgotten art -
wooden boat building. As I flipped through the pages and looked at "beauty
in wood", I knew that I had to do something myself.
Having been around boats all my life, I was no stranger to what works. My
father was a certified OMC mechanic, and had always had a boat. But even
though he had built several, I had yet to have the experience.
I wanted to build a cruising sailboat of about 30 feet, but knew that I had
to gain experience and also would need a dinghy for that boat. So, to kill
two birds with one stone, I decided to embark on a project to build a dinghy.
I downloaded the free plans from www.bateau.com
for the D4 dinghy. Thanks to Jacques for sharing those with the world. I read all his tutorials and many
others on the web and armed with knowledge and enthusiasm, headed out to the
local lumber yard.
I decided on ACX ply. Marine grade was not specified by Jacques and I see
now that he was correct. It is the grade of epoxy that matters in this type
construction. I purchased several sheets of ACX that had no voids in them
that I could see, and started laying out the parts for Boo Boo.
I can say at this point that I am glad that I listened to the advice of more
than one person online and DID NOT try to make Boo Boo a "perfect" boat. She
is beautiful and I have been given nothing but compliments on her from all,
but I know that with more time I could have built a boat that looked like it had been squirted out of a mold.
The goals I set in building Boo Boo have been met. I have gained valuable
experience in boatbuilding. I have spent my leisure time in a worthwhile
pursuit. I have met many new friends on the internet and locally. And last
but not least, I have the dinghy for my big boat.
The morning was taken up with running here and there to get last minute
things. I had to have PFD's for 2. I had to have rope to tie her off at the
dock and onto the truck. I built a simple bunk set and carpeted them. They
can ride in the Toyota with the tailgate up when Boo Boo is not being hauled. And I had to make sure the last coat of varnish on the oars I built
Rachel (the real Boo Boo) got off work at 1:00 PM and we headed up to Lake
Jordan, where my friend Jarred has a home and a nice boat dock. Upon arriving he and our mutual friend John met us at driveway. I backed the
trusty Toyota down to the waters edge and we slipped Boo Boo off the truck
and into the water.
At first we just let her float out and sit there by herself on the end of
the bow line. We were talking and backslapping and forgot to take pictures
of her sitting in the water by herself. But talking ran its course and the
time came to put Boo Boo to the test. I pulled her over to the dock and plopped my large carcass down on the middle seat. Boo Boo never even
A few seconds later after the oars had been placed in the locks, I pushed
off and rowed out into the lake. She tracked wonderfully for a short boat.
I was impressed with not only the ease of rowing her, but also who well she
did when passing boats and PWC's made wakes. All in all she felt safe. That
feeling you get when you trust something. Like an old chair that you feel
comfortable in. That was how Boo Boo felt. Like I had known her for years.
All the imaginations while She lay there in construction, wondering how she
would row and track, came to life in just a few short moments. I turned her
about and headed back in. Oh, I could have rowed a lot longer than I did.
But you see, I had to share that feeling that had come over me. I had to let
Boo Boo have the privilege of giving pleasure to someone else.
As I gently touched her side to the bumper on the dock, I looked at Jarred,
and saw the look in his eyes. He would not ask to take her out, because he
was wanting me to have my moment in the sun. But I could see the look. I
knew that he was longing to get his hands on the oars. As he held her fast
while I climbed out, I said "Jarred, why don't you see how she handles for
Boo Boo did her Job well. For there was a smile that was on Jarred's face,
that stayed there even after we left. Sure, he had his SeaDoo and his skiboat to play on. But he had taken the oars of a real boat. One that had
not been laid in a mold by uncaring hourly paid hands. But rather a boat
that had heart and soul - one that had been built in a backyard.