built my first kayak in 1978. It was my own design, a mongrel of elements I’d seen in the classic documentary book, Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America, by Edwin Tappan Adney and Howard Chapelle. It had a stern profile from Alaska’s King Island, a midsection from Canada’s Southampton Island, and a bow . . .
I have a fair number of boats in my fleet and some are getting on in years. The oldest of the ones I’ve built is a Chamberlain gunning dory I built for my father in 1980. The oldest of all of them is an English river wherry bearing an oval brass plate that reads: T. Cooper & Sons of Shrewsbury, Boatbuilders, Shrewsbury. Dad acquired it perhaps 40 years ago and believed it was built around 1890. Dad may have told me where he found the wherry, but at the time it was just another boat in a garage crowded with racing shells and I didn’t pay much attention to any of them.
here’s an interesting exhibition of art at the Georgetown Historical Society in Georgetown, Maine. Some of the pieces on display are an unusual pairing of abstract painting and wooden boat models. The disciplines of art and boatbuilding have very different goals, one purely aesthetic and the other quite practical, but both require thoughtful attention to . . .