The Yeung Canoe

That fall, Rebecca and Kimberly, now 14 and 12, began work on a Prospector Ranger 15 canoe kit from Bear Mountain Boats. Their father, Winston, helped with the project and their mother, Jennifer, gave the three free time for the by doing everyone’s household chores and feeding the troops. Canoecraft, the how-to book by Bear Mountain designer Ted Moores, was their guide through the build. “Every year,” says Winston, “we do big Lego sets and they just love going through the instruction books and following the guidelines, so they both liked that there was a book we could follow with really detailed instructions.”


Detlef Arthur grew up in southern Austria and while he did a lot of boating on lakes and rivers, Italy’s coast was not far away and he occasionally traveled with his canoe to Venice, paddling the lagoons and canals the city is known for.  The Venetian style of rowing made a lasting impression on him. The gondolas that frequent the canals of the island city are well known and perhaps the most elaborate of the rowed boats, but there is a wide range of simpler boats. To negotiate the narrow canals, the gondolas are rowed with a single oar to take up less room, but in the wide-open lagoons, workboats and racing boats are rowed with oars sticking out on either side, with one person per oar, or with a rower with two oars.


Noah purchased plans from The WoodenBoat Store for Marc Barto’s 16′ adaptation of the 1888 New Jersey melonseed gunning skiff documented in Howard Chapelle’s American Small Sailing Craft. Chapelle notes that the melonseeds built for hunting were carvel-planked, believing that lapstrake hulls were too noisy for approaching skittish waterfowl. Barto’s glued-lap plywood construction suited Noah just fine. He remembered all too well the annual summer chore of having to caulk, soak, and bail the family’s old carvel boats before they were ready for the sailing season. His father ultimately switched to a 20’ leak-free, cold-molded mahogany daysailer. It was in that leak-free boat, THE GOOD TERN, that Noah was infused with an affection for the beauty of varnish and the lapping of waves against a wooden hull, a soothing sound when the water isn’t seeping into it.


Two of Frank’s friends had recently finished building a cedar-strip canoe, and he thought “it was gorgeous.” He resumed his search for a design, hoping to find a strip-built wherry, but kept coming back to the Annapolis wherry. He decided to call CLC and ask about a cedar-strip version of the Annapolis tandem, and the person who picked up the phone was John Harris, the company’s owner and designer. John, it turned out, had already drawn a version of the wherry for strip construction, and he told Frank to visit the CLC website the following day, and the plans would be there. That day, Frank placed his order for the plans and cedar strips.

Alf’s Trap Skiff

As a boy, he would surreptitiously take the axe from his father’s shop and chop a boat out of a scrap of wood. There were a number of boatbuilders near his home, and he was inexorably drawn to their shops to watch them at work. At 19 he built his first boat, a plywood skiff, and “it worked out all right,” he says, so he went to a trade school to learn more. Now 80 years old, he works in the shop that had belonged to his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He has a long string of wooden boats, up to 56′ long, to his credit and is a highly regarded boatbuilder.

A George Putz Walrus

The construction of the frame was straightforward and didn’t bog Richard down, but deciding what material to use for the fabric covering did. He was set on keeping the expenses to a minimum and steered away from canvas, even if it were easy to come by. Back in 1990, Putz himself acknowledged that a suitable piece of 10-oz canvas would be pricey—about $130. Richard settled on a fiber-reinforced polyethylene tarp as the source of his covering material. “It looks magnificent,” he notes, but admits in hindsight “that this choice was a bad one as it is not as strong as it should be.” It stretched over the frame easily enough and with bright-finished sheer guards covering the material’s edges and the staples anchoring them, the semi-transparent skin looks quite hi-tech.

The Kingfisher Elective

Glenn’s class at JPII is now among the most popular electives, and he has twice as many students as he had at home. That’s 10 students, a healthy percentage of the school’s 120-student population. They come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds; some have never used power tools or been aboard a boat and very few have even seen a wooden boat. As the boatshop got up and running, students built a Rubens Nymph, a 7′9″ pram designed by Bolger and a 13′ Payson’s Pirogue designed by “Dynamite” Payson. The Kingfisher 18, built to plans from Glen-L, is the first big boat to emerge from the shop. To power the deep-V plywood hull the school acquired a rebuilt 90-hp Johnson outboard.


Phil Boyer started work on a cedar-strip Wee Lassie II in 2005 and only got as far as setting up the molds when he discovered that canoes could be built quite quickly as skin-on-frame boats. He decided to switch techniques while using the same molds. Western red cedar, salvaged from a deck he had demolished, supplied much of the wood he needed. He skinned the frame with ballistic nylon, dyed it green, and waterproofed it with two-part urethane.


Neither Claudia nor Jacob came into that class with much experience in marine design beyond scanning online videos and blogs. For guidance on construction they studied Nick Schade’s The Strip-Built Sea Kayak. While pondering the practical elements of kayak construction, they also considered the artistic possibilities offered by wood strips. For the deck, they sought to bend accent strips of exotic hardwoods to mimic the rhythm of waves and ripples and “guide the eyes of the viewer through a vibrant path of beautiful colors and intricate forms.”


In 2015, doctors discovered James had a vocal-cord cancer. Glottic cancers respond well to radiation treatment and are almost always curable, but the health scare was a wake-up call for James. During his radiation treatments, his thoughts were drawn to his teenage years and the time he spent paddling the Wee Lassie on Little Moose Lake. The memories were his refuge during a difficult time, and after a few rounds of radiation he decided to bring a Wee Lassie back into his life—he’d build his own.

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