Gary Strombo of Everett, Washington, told his friend John Leyde that he wanted to build a boat. As often happens, the moment you speak of your wishes to someone else, the momentum to carry them out begins to build. Gary had had no experience building boats, but John got his start decades ago and had several boats to his credit, including two electric launches and a diesel launch that he later converted to steam power. Gary had taken an interest in Adirondack guideboats and found plans and instructions for a strip-built version in Building an Adirondack Guideboat by Michale Olivette and John Michne.


THE G.O.A.T. may need a bit of time in the water to get the seams tightened and leak-free.

The Independence Seaport Museum sits on the banks of the Delaware River in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. Like most museums, it preserves artifacts of the past, but the Independence Seaport Museum is also preserving skills. It has an active boatshop, Workshop on the Water, that is bringing the traditions of wooden boat building to the city’s youth. Among the programs at the shop is SAILOR—Science and Arts Innovative Learning on the River—for middle and high-school students. Groups of 10 to 14 students build small boats learning STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and the boats go to the museum’s community boating program fleet.


While many peapods have curved stems fore and aft, HARMONY, like its 1886 predecessor has a straight sternpost, which simplifies the installation of a rudder.

David MacLean purchased the plans for the Old Sailing Peapod from the Smithsonian and used the lines as the starting point for his tender. At 15’ 3”, the original was a bigger boat than he required; he opted for an overall length of 13’ 6”. He also decided to strip-plank the boat to save on the weight of the original lapstrake construction.


The Tread Lightly's mizzen was the feature that drew Steve to the design.

Steve Judson of Annapolis, Maryland, was thinking seriously about building a Scamp. His wife had given him the plans for Christmas and he had thought highly of the Scamp’s performance during a test sail. But he had his heart set on a boat with a mizzen so he could more easily heave to. He did a bit of research and discovered that John Welsford had designed another boat with a hull very much like that of the Scamp, but longer and equipped with a mizzen.


GYPSY SOUL brightens up a dreary winter landscape.

At the ramp, GYPSY SOUL slipped into the water for the first time. Scotty and Juilio hadn’t sailed a lug rig before, but hauled in the main sheet and took off. “We peeled off into a close-hauled beat, sailed across on a beat, and back on a run. Upwind she is a filly! On a reach you could pull a water-skier. What wonderful big-block power those sails gather. Downwind, stable, light on the tiller, a wonderful gurgle of chines underwater.” His mother, who had never seen a boat sail, said, “When the wind took that boat, the way it moved was like magic.”


While this is the scene Bruce has been hoping for, the boy is not a grandson, it's his office manager's son.

Bruce Holaday got an early start with boating. His father ordered a $50 pram from the Sears & Roebuck catalog and turned Bruce loose with the boat on a clear-water lake in Indiana. Bruce spent his boyhood summers in the company of ducks, turtles, muskrats, and fish. The experience of independence and of being in command of his own vessel stuck with him; the prospect of a grandchild got him thinking about his childhood and the important role a boat played in his growing up.


The loose-footed sprit sail makes sailing about as simple as it gets. Light summer breezes make for unhurried passages between islands.

After moving ashore from living aboard a schooner, and acquiring a wife and a small son, Michael Colfer of Bellingham, Washington, needed a smaller boat. He built a Nutshell pram and a Good Little Skiff, but then wanted a boat capable of taking on some more challenging weather in the more exposed areas around the San Juan Islands.

A Bit of Venice on the Thames

Richard Nissen lives in a houseboat on the Thames, and naturally he has gathered a collection of small boats for taking advantage of the river that flows past his home. He has an 1890s lapstrake single racing shell that he restored, a double, and a catamaran single—all for sculling—a stitch-and-glue canoe that he and . . .

A Tenacious Tween

Hannah Dumser, at the age of 10, passed her Michigan boating license test on her first try. It was quite an achievement, as the state’s boater education course covers some 61 topics, ranging from tying knots to dealing with an onboard fire. Having earned her boating safety certificate for the waters near her family’s summer . . .

Boy Scout Boatbuilder

Thatcher has a powerful stroke with good torso rotation, not to mention the game face of a kid with no shortage of determination.

“My name is Thatcher Unfried. I have grown up in a family that thinks building boats is normal.” Thatcher is a 14-year-old eighth grader who lives in Redding, Connecticut, with his parents, brother, and sister. Even before the kids were born, his parents built a canoe in the living room, so they were all indoctrinated . . .

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