At The WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Connecticut, Scott Williams brought ESCA, his impeccably built Christmas Wherry to exhibit among other small boats for “I Built It Myself.” The sail-and-oar boat won Best in Show for owner-built boats in the Concours d’Elegance awards, and this video shows why.
Scott built ESCA’s hull with glued, lapped Okoume plywood on white cedar frames. She’s got a 1-1/2″-thick Okoume keel, a stem of white oak, and the transom and thwarts are of quarter sawn Sapele. The spars are solid, laminated Sitka spruce.
What does Scott appreciate about boatbuilding? Well, as a contractor and builder normally working on land structures with straight lines and 90 degree angles, boats give him the opportunity to “throw away the square” and to do the satisfying work of sculpting and shaping wood “to the perfection of the boat.”
Learn how to make masts and other spars at the Sparmaking Workshop at Chase Small Craft’s shop in Saco, Maine. Bring the family: with a water park across the street and so close to Old Orchard Beach, there is plenty for the family to do while you learn the ropes. You will learn the birdsmouth technique as well as tips on how to make your spars smooth, straight, and sturdy. This is a 5-day workshop, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Make plans to attend the Fifth Annual Port Aransas Wooden Boat Festival on April 12-13, 2019. This is a great family friendly event in the beautiful beach town of Port Aransas, Texas. Bring your wooden boats to display. Boats don’t have to be fancy, just made of wood. It can even be displayed unfinished. There is no entry fee for boat or spectators. Attend informative programs on boat building and boating. Build a boat at the Family Boat Building. Kids can build a model boat, too. April in Port Aransas is a great time of year with great weather and plenty of thing for the family to do. Check out www.portaransaswoodenboatfestival.org for more info.
Rick Pratt, a friend of Small Boats Monthly, sent us this tip:
“This short 14-minute film made in the swamp country of South Louisiana in 1949 was funded by Standard Oil. It shows Cajun craftsman making a pirogue the ‘old way.’ Hewn of a cyprus log by hand; probably the last pirogue made this way.
Note the serving of Cajun coffee in demitasse cups with tiny spoons. It’s a tradition down here that still endures. If you haven’t ever had it, look out. Made in ole time ‘drip pots,’ it is sweetened in the pot. It’s thick as motor oil and super sweet. The areas along the bayou and the people looked much the same when I started working the oil patch.
A lot of the time, oilfield people (known as ‘Texakins’ by the Cajuns no matter where they were from) had to have an interpreter so they could communicate with the guys I worked with in the oil field. Just about everybody was Cajun French. A lot of the older guys couldn’t (or wouldn’t) speak English. Step back in time and check out the full-length video.”
Nick Schade has been documenting, on a day-to-day basis, his process for building Guillemot Kayaks‘ designs. The latest is a build of the microBootlegger Sport, a beautiful and sleek double paddle kayak. Here’s the whole playlist on YouTube, which will play the next episode automatically when you finish one.
If you’re building one of Nick’s boats in particular, then this is obvious gold, but there is a lot to glean here for anybody wanting to know more about strip-built or skin-on-frame boats. In an average of 20 minutes per episode, Nick gives a level of detail that both seasoned and beginner boatbuilders will appreciate, as he shares his own personal take on all sorts of aspects of the build, through the entire process, from buying the lumber to doing the finish work.
Not only do you get to see a professional in action, but you get to see Nick screw up, then tell you what happened, and how he fixed it. One episode, “Ruining Expensive Lumber,” certainly got us to click and watch, and he gracefully and openly admits to having accidentally ripped some strips in the wrong direction, yielding some undesirable grain orientation. This is the real deal.
Vidar Langeland, a Norwegian photographer, sent us a note about a 20-year-old boatbuilding non-profit he recently joined. The Oselvarverkstaden—The Oselvar Workshop—seeks to preserve traditional Norwegian boatbuilding skills by building new Oselvar boats and documenting and repairing old ones. The Oselvar design dates back at least 500 years and was used in the inland waters woven into the southwest coast of Norway and for a time were disassembled and packed for shipment to the Shetland and Orkney Islands. A few years ago, the Oselvar boat was named Norway’s national boat and the design serves as an icon of the country’s deeply rooted maritime tradition.
Vidar has filmed an informative video about the boats and the workshop. He wrote to us recently to let us know what he’s doing at The Olselvar Workshop, after he read Jaime Gallant’s piece about Ulf Mikalsen.
When we reviewed the Drake Raceboat in our September 2017 issue, designer Clint Chase was studying the prototype, putting the finishing touches on the plans, and preparing to produce kits. The boat is now available both as plans or as a kit.
Those of you who enjoy rowing a go-fast boat might enjoy the Drake Raceboat. Our review pointed out: “The boat is quite easy to accelerate; a half dozen strokes and it was off and running. I did some speed trials in a marina where there was neither current nor wind. With a lazy, relaxed effort I easily maintained 3-3/4 knots; a sustainable exercise pace brought the speed up to 5 knots. Fluctuations in GPS speed readings… in the lightweight Raceboat spanned at least 1-1/2 knots—I’d estimate that the boat’s sprint speed averages out around 6 knots. It’s a fast pulling boat. While the Drake Raceboat is designed ‘for the greater speeds in race conditions,’ you don’t have to compete to appreciate the boat. It will give you an exhilarating workout and reward improvements in your stamina and technique, but it’s not so high strung that you can’t take it out for a relaxing outing.”
With winter coming on, it’s a good time to retreat to the shop for a boatbuilding project. By spring you could have a Drake Raceboat ready to row. You can now order plans or kits from Chase Small Craft.