First off, the record needs to be set straight: I am not a Boatbuilder. I build boats, but like a child playing T-Ball, I lack three essential properties: Skill, Talent, and Patience. On the plus side, I do have an abundance of enthusiasm, interest, and opportunity, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.
I came to boat building much like Saul came to Jesus: I was smitten.
I'd never had an interest in boats or boating - I'd always thought of a boat being much like a horse: something that sat around 98% of the time, consuming money, time, and effort. Boats had always looked like a massive amount of effort for something that was used only a tiny portion of time - and when a boat owner had free time, they were pretty much obligated to spend it on the boat, otherwise the investment was wasted.
Then came that fateful day: We'd received a gift certificate to Powell's Books, the largest book store in my area, and my wife wanted to use it. A person has to be in the mood to go book shopping at the largest bookstore in the state, and I wasn't in one. Still, I am a believer in the old adage "Happy Wife, Happy Life," so it wasn't long before I found myself standing among the racks of the well-lit, vibrant, and hip Powell's Books, with absolutely no idea what kind of book I was looking for. I grumped around, wandering from floor to floor, shouldering my way around clots of intense, interested shoppers, knowing deep in my heart I didn't want to be there - I couldn't even enjoy the energy of being in a place where people were excited to be surrounded by the written word.
|Inspecting plans for the Lazy Weekend canoe on top of the prototype Tik-Tak Kayak.
|Scott showed up and reintroduced himself. He'd been a Youth Supervisor for the Toledo Summer Youth Program last year. He took the Yaquina skin-on-frame canoe out for a paddle.
|I put them in Bea to start with, telling them that had to make it to the railroad bridge before they came back. Off they went.
|They decided they wanted to try rowing. After a few missteps, they took to rowing quite well. All in all, a great weekend at the Boathouse.
|One of the reasons I love canoes is even novices can be up and paddling within a few minutes of introduction. The Lazy Weekend 2.0 canoes work great for this. I tried my best to remember names - the guy in the back is the teacher, Peter.
|The gates were actually open, which is pretty neat. I've only seen that a couple times.
|After I waved good-bye to the high school class, these girls who'd been sunning themselves on the dock asked if they could go for a paddle. The one on the left's name started with a T, the blond girl's name started with an S, and the only one I really remember is Ashley, who is hiding behind the pylon. They had a great time paddling around - I hope I helped make some memories.
|In the two weeks since I'd seen him, Geoff had grown a beard! He was still working on his kayak, but he'd grown a beard.
|Changing over from a Spindrift 11N to a Spindrift meant adding full length seats, which would now interfere with the inspection port I had planned for the forward bulkhead. Step 1 was to plug the hole.
|We had visitors! Little Keely was down on the docks with her grandfather. I couldn't talk them into going canoeing (Keely wanted to, but Granddad had a schedule to keep: schedules are the bane of boat people).
Eventually, I got tired of wandering and looked up. The first book I saw was something along the lines of "Building your own 40ft steel yacht." It was like I'd been hit with a thunderbolt. All of the sudden, I HAD to build a boat. I started pouring over the books - ocean-going yachts, power boats, runabouts, kayaks, canoes, books with compilations of plans for 20, 30, and 40 boats - and more! It was like I had a fever - I had no idea what I was looking for, what I wanted, how I would use it, or even how to actually MAKE something. All I knew was that I HAD to build a boat.
Luckily enough, I had the presence of mind to pass over the books on yachts and blue water sailors. After looking at dozens of books, I settled on "Building the Six-Hour Canoe" by Richard Butz, John Montague, and William Bartoo. I had no idea how long this feverish desire to build would last, but I was pretty certain I could hold it together for six hours. Six Hour Canoe.
I had a few tools from previous attempts at learning a hobby, but I still was woeful unprepared for the raw expense of boat building. Who knew wood could cost so much? And glue! Jumping Phil Bolger on a pogo-stick, you'd think epoxy was hand made by aliens on the dark side of the moon. This simply would not stand - I needed to find other solutions so I could feed my mania.
Enter the internet - Yahoo news groups, on-line forums, and thousands of other people I never knew existed, all facing the same problems. All of the sudden, I wasn't some lone loon, crying out in the wilderness. I asked questions and told stories and suddenly, I was making friends - GOOD friends
- with people I'd never even met.
I took it upon myself to give back. When I learned something - usually by ignoring advice and trying something 'new' - I wrote about it, and told the stories of my follies. Then something I never, ever, ever expected to happen, started happening: People started believing me and asking ME questions.
So there's your story on why I build and how I became (erroneously) known as a boat builder.
Want to see more of my antics? I currently manage operations at the Toledo Community Boathouse.
We even have a Plans section
and pages on boatbuilding activities.
I've also done a fair bit of adventuring on time:
Outer Banks Crossing in 2009:
[Thank you Andrew for taking the time to tell us your story. Happy wife, happy life for sure. Please tell us your story. How did you get started down the waterway of life called boatbuiding? Mike John ed.]