From the Boatshop
by Ron Magen

"Stop the World: I Want to Build a Boat"

A few years ago there was a Broadway show, later made into a movie, called, "Stop the World; I Want to Get Off". There was a line from it that went, " . . . the smell of the crowd, the roar of the greasepaint . . .", or something like that.

The opening words of a recent piece on boat building schools, "The sweet smell of sawdust, the sound of an adze, the velvety feel of finely sanded wood . . ." reminded me of that.

Not just in boat building, but in other aspects of craftsmanship, the actual building function is the point of the exercise, the driving challenge. The joy of 'finishing' is short-lived; there's the let down and the desire to start again.

Recently there has been a spate of articles bemoaning the demise of the 'backyard boat' and technology expanding at such a rate that it is becoming almost an 'implant' and a literal necessity of life. There are also 'Letters to the Editor" and responses which end with, " . . . complicated and in some cases is better left to the pros."

My wife and I have a 19-foot "mini-cruiser". It is "3rd hand" and after "suffering" the ministrations of so-called pros", I do all the maintenance and some fairly comprehensive modifications. Some intense research, common sense, and a little bit of care can accomplish what seem to be miracles. Yet after the doing, and there is always something else to be done, something seemed to be lacking.

In the back pages of these same "leading edge technology" sailing mags, there are pages of advertisements for 'boat plans'; seemingly more each month. There is even one periodical focused on that apparent heresy . . . the WOODEN boat. (do we have a 'plastic' boat - yes; do I subscribe to this heretic publication - YES !!) That, plus other reading, convinced me that the 'backyard boat(shop)' was far from deceased.

After a lot of thought, not from the ability standpoint, but more of wife, time, home maintenance, and work, I said, " I'm going to build a boat !!".

Some impatience, a bit of uncertainty, a dash of cheap [MARINE ply at $98.00 a sheet - plus shipping - I'm crazy, but not that crazy !!], and a lot of pride and caring went into that stack of wood.. And it was all worth it when one winter night my wife came out to the garage to get me and said, with joyful amazement "IT IS A BOAT !!"


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