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.
Whenever Henry came up with an idea for something to build, he’d tell his grandfather about it and at some point announce: “We need a blueprint, Grampy.” He would climb up on Mark’s drafting table and start to draw. Armed with the “blueprint,” grandson and grandfather would head for the shop. One day, Henry decided he’d like to go fishing, and when Mark pointed out they didn’t have a boat, naturally Henry said, “Well, let’s build one.”
Although Carl Kaufmann made his career in journalism, his education was in naval architecture and marine engineering. So, he drew up his Block Island 19, a centerboarder with an overall length of 19′, a waterline length of 15′, a beam of over 7′, and a draft of just 2′ with the board up. An 1,100-lb lead keel would bring the boat weight up to 2,500 lbs, “an extremely light boat,” he notes, for its type, more substantial than a 12½ but substantially lighter than the Fish Boat or Pisces. For the rig he drew a generous gaff mainsail and a small self-tending jib on a traveler.
As 2015 drew to a close, Peter had nearly finished the build, but the project was brought to a sudden halt. Peter was given a diagnosis of an aggressive brain cancer in its final stage. He had surgery on the tumor, but not all of it could be removed. Peter received a dose of chemotherapy and radiation, but his prognosis was grim. He was given six months to live.
Nick set his sights on a larger version of OTTER, long and slender, easily driven, capable of cruising at 10 knots while carrying 600 lbs. He enlisted his father, who had many more boats to his credit, to help design HERON, as the new boat would be called. The two spent the summer of 2017 studying flat-bottomed skiff designs for inspiration and borrowed elements from Pete Culler’s Long John and William Atkin’s Ration and XLNC. With the shape they wanted in mind, Nick and Daniel got to work, starting with a quarter-scale lofting of what would be a 20′ 6″ skiff.
He upped the ante considerably by deciding to build a wood-and-canvas canoe in the traditional manner. If you like to build things, it’s a good way to go: you get to double your fun (not to mention the time and expense) by building the form required and the canoe. Jon got his plans from Stewart River Boatworks in Knife River, Minnesota. The Fishdance model he chose is listed as a 15′6″ Sportboat. Named after a lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota, it’s a square-stern canoe with a beam of 43″, so it’s meant for rowing and motoring rather than paddling. With the bigger boat Jon would be better able to manage the wider waters of Green Bay in his backyard.
The design chosen for the build was the 9’ canvas-on-frame double-ended tender designed and built by Ned MacIntosh back in the 1940s when he and his wife were living aboard their Atkin cutter STAR CREST in Panamanian waters. The boat caught on among other cruisers, especially after Ned added a sailing rig. Soon there was a fleet of about 20 of them. When STAR CREST returned home to New Hampshire Ned made more of these lightweight tenders. Maynard Bray, an author of many books on boatbuilding and a frequent contributor to WoodenBoat, saw the tender, took a liking to it, and measured one of them to create drawings to work from to build one for himself. His plans were the starting point for the Brookwood project.
William Chamberlain was building boats in Marblehead, Massachusetts, around 1900, and his double-ended gunning dory was 19′5″ in length. Gardner took the lines off one of them in 1942, and in 1965 modified the design. The new version was 18’6″ and built with plywood. The shorter length was a better fit for Harvey’s garage shop, but he wanted to get a taste of traditional construction. Fortunately, Gardner’s drawings include an inset with the details required for a lapstrake build.
Patrick, approaching retirement and seeing boatbuilding would fill the leisure hours he’d have ahead of him, thought the skiff would be a good winter project and decided to do much more than put a new finish on the still serviceable hull. He pulled out the factory-installed aluminum seats. They were covered in mahogany-brown vinyl, and as unpleasant to sit on as they were to look at. They’d be replaced with warm, bright-finished cedar thwarts. After giving the boat a three-tone paint job, Patrick add faux sheerstrakes of varnished ash
. The skiff’s flat sheerline made it possible to get the nearly straight planks out in one piece from long ash boards.