September 2017

Reader Built Boat

GYPSY SOUL

GYPSY SOUL brightens up a dreary winter landscape.Photographs courtesy of Scotty Pugh

GYPSY SOUL brightens up a dreary winter landscape.

Scotty Pugh of Sardis, Tennessee, grew up riding dirt bikes and later indulged his passion for motorcycles as he collected vintage Harley-Davidsons. But a ride gone wrong landed him a hospital trauma ward for a week and he was forced to consider something else to focus his interest upon. “Wooden boats,” he thought, “will keep me entertained.”

Scotty's shop was an old rural grocery store that was part of his childhood. He couldn't stand to see it go down, so he rebuilt it into a shop. The photographs on the wall are a mix of motorcycles and wooden boats.

Scotty’s shop was an old rural grocery store that was part of his childhood. He couldn’t stand to see it torn down, so he bought it and rebuilt it as his boat shop. The photographs on the wall are a mix of motorcycles and wooden boats.

After he built his first small wooden boat there was no turning back. GYPSY SOUL, a Caledonia Yawl, is his fourth boat. While he had acquired a lot of the necessary skills building the first three boats, “the road to building the yawl was not without some curves and potholes.” Work was interrupted when he was installing floorboards and “acting like I was 20 again, inflamed a muscle in my hip and mashed a sciatic nerve. That took me down for couple weeks.” While work on the yawl was slow, it was not without its daily rewards. “The more I’m buried in technology at work, the deeper I bury myself in wooden boats at home.” Scotty’s career has been in the highly technical field of robotic welding, so he counts the time he spends with a hand plane as meditation.

As engineer and longtime woodworker, Scotty is, by his own admission, "a bit ticky about correctness, so construction took awhile." His tidy work with the epoxy fillets paid off in the bright-finished boat.

As engineer and longtime woodworker, Scotty is, by his own admission, “a bit ticky about correctness, so construction took awhile.” His tidy work with the epoxy fillets paid off in the bright-finished boat.

Scotty spent five years building GYPSY SOUL, often working with Juilio, his sweetheart at the beginning of the project and his wife by its conclusion. One cold morning in December last year, Juilio called from work: “If I can get the afternoon off can we launch the boat?” The yawl was not quite finished, but close enough that it was ready to sail. Scotty called his parents to announce the plans to launch, and his 83-year-old mother insisted that they wait for her to get to the ramp. She warned him that if she wasn’t “standing on the dock when the boat hit the water there would likely be adjustments to the will.” Scotty agreed to delay the launch long enough to give his parents time to get to the lake. “Pop has some neat old tools,” thought Scotty, “so it wasn’t worth the risk to rush.”

The most recent version of the Caledonia design calls for seven strakes; Scotty opted for the original four-strake hull.

The most recent version of the Caledonia design calls for seven strakes; Scotty opted for the original four-strake hull.

At the ramp, GYPSY SOUL slipped into the water for the first time. Scotty and Juilio hadn’t sailed a lug rig or a mizzen 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.”

Scotty has two cat-rigged boats and two sloop-rigged boats, but the Caledonia's lug rig with the mizzen is his favorite by far.

Scotty has two cat-rigged boats and two sloop-rigged boats, but the Caledonia’s lug rig with the mizzen is his favorite by far.

Since the winter launching, Scotty and Juilio have sailed many of the lakes and rivers of West Tennessee, and while GYPSY SOUL’s home waters are well inland, she’s not landlocked. Scotty and Juilio have entertained the idea of driving 45 minutes from home to launch in Pickwick Lake, make their way to the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, and in a week’s time sail out into the Gulf of Mexico.

GYPSY SOUL does most of her sailing on the Tennessee River, but she was built with island-hopping the Florida Keys in mind.

GYPSY SOUL does most of her sailing on the Tennessee River, but she was built with island-hopping the Florida Keys in mind.

After a 25-year career, Scotty is ready for an early retirement so he can devote his time to boats. “I don’t want to build wooden boats for a living, but for the poetry of it.”  While there will be other boats, GYPSY SOUL is tied to an important time in his life. “I had my house rented to pretty young gal who turned out to love classic literature and history. I taught her to sail, we built GYPSY together, got married, and the small-boat thing fits us and our lives perfectly. I may be buried in GYPSY.”

When Scotty taught Juilio how to sail, she was quick to pick up the skills and "the touch." She's handling the main sheet here, but Scotty notes: "She's the best helmswoman I've ever sailed with."

When Scotty taught Juilio how to sail, she was quick to pick up the skills and “the touch.” She’s handling the main sheet here, but Scotty notes: “She’s the best helms man or woman I’ve ever sailed with.”

End of article

 

Have you recently launched a boat? Please email us. We’d like to hear about it and share your story with other Small Boats Monthly readers.

Comments:

We welcome your comments about this article. If you’d like to include a photo or a video with your comment, please email the file or link.

6 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *