Rediscovering WoodenBoat

On board our trawler is my collection of well over 100 books on anything ranging from “This Old Boat” by (Casey) to “The Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Manual (Calder) to a book simply titled “The Western Flyer” (Bailey) Steinbeck’s Boat, The Sea of Cortez, and the Sage of Pacific Fisheries; plus a great dozen or so feel-good reading magazines.

WoodenBoat Magazines dating back to early 2011 seem to be my favorite go to non-digitized magazines, for my reading pleasure.  Why?  Crack one open anytime of the day of the week and it just may start to feel like a quiet Sunday morning; about as close to entering the world of the do-it yourselfers, as possible.  A world where working with your hands, mind, body and soul is pure bliss.

Creating something out of nothing in one’s mind while reading a magazine on a topic like boat building, to me, is like finding a great Craigslist price on a classic anything (boat or card) or barn find.  One may not necessarily act on it but, it’s a distant second to not finding what you were not yet looking for in the first place.

Ones own adventure (if in mind only) just has that deep down “feel good” do-it yourselfer perfect project.  Except, that you don’t lift a tool, spend a dime or half-way start anything you may well never complete or really use.  The perfect “happy spouse” sort of project.

Old time magazines like WoodenBoat are extremely easy on the advertising yet the stories and pictures of boats easily resemble art; the projects included can range anywhere from the simplistic to the futuristic.

Take for example, an article by Joe Youcha – “Building a Skiff to Teach Math”.  ……build a boat with kids and they’ll learn fractions, geometry, and maybe a little bit of algebra.  Add lumber, boat plans and students and you have a great way to make learning math fun and useful.

Just a quick side note.  Those are the kind of stories or articles that I don’t tend to gravitate towards.  The go-to stories that always seem to perk my interest or attention are the ones whose pages are now dog-eared.

Like for example, “The Wee Pup”, a story that says the Wee Pup first appeared in a 1906 article in “The Rudder”, a boat building magazine of a by-gone era.  This small, able tender is in the wake of the Monhegan punt.  What you may ask is this language now spoken?  In boat talk, a tender is well, I’ll just let you look it up if you don’t already know, sort of a way to coax you into the next story about a punt.

I want to build a boat – at least, I’ve always wanted to for a very long time, going back to when I was a teenager.  An alcoholic master carpenter once told me that unless you build a boat you can never become a master carpenter like him.  I’ll drink to that……. Two such boat building projects were first started by me as a teenager.  One was free and the other I think cost me $100.  Both never finished, one my father gave me a deadline which I did not meet so, with sledgehammer in hand he quickly made short order work out of this seventeen foot Biscayne Bay runabout.

And out onto a Miami, Florida street it went along with the avocado tree trimmings and assorted now discarded lawn chairs and mattresses.  No television sets, refrigerators, or washers and dryers; those things back then seemed like they lasted forever.

To be picked up and deposited onto a Florida landfill mountain on the very next garbage day, by a dump truck equipped with this claw like apparatus that seemed to enjoy chomping down on the awaiting garbage pile.  Up into the air it all went, before the iron claw mouth opened up spewing rubbage that did not fall onto our street, onto an awaiting dump truck.  Chomp by chomp this 20th century metro garbage service went, down streets whose very own awaiting designated piles now rested, along with the yet to be disturbed Florida snakes, rats, cockroaches and dehyrated stray mongrel dogs.

My second boat project.  Our nearby neighbor invested more time and bondo in the boat than I so, it was  fitting that he take it off my hands and property before the next sledgehammer derby.  And no, I never saw that boat touch the water either.

Just reading the classifieds in WoodenBoat magazine brings a smile to my face and a desire to want to return to land – to build a boat!  Just listen to these possibilities.  The Marisol Skiff – a rugged day-sailor whose plans could be had for a mere $19.95; or build the Nutshell Pram; or a kayak, a rowing skiff or bicycle powered boat or join a boat building shop and start building one while learning the basics of wood working.

A tiny waterfront floating home in your future?  Why not, according to Harry Bryan (WoodenBoat article) join the Shantyboat Renaissance and build a simple floating cabin of approximately 130 square feet with clapboard siding, opening windows adorned by flower boxes, a wood burning stove, and a spaciousness befitting a landside abode.  “The boat/home also nods to its nautical ancestry, with a graceful sheer, opening porthole, and built-in storage throughout.

Sometime the stories are enough to satisfy the desire to build – at least temporarily.  Recently, the desire to build was quenched with a story about not building but using.  Part II of the Story – Cruising in the Shallows (by Dan MacNaughtor) seems to be a story within a story about the author reading about a 1956 cruise on a boat the Amphibi-ette, then intentionally running aground in the shallows, playing in the mud while looking for clams, crabs and exploring tidal pools.

Just enough to fire up the imagination, outfit my very own inflatable catamaran dinghy with exploration gear and head out to Isla Espirito Santo.  But first, let’s fire off the imagination with Paul Thiel’s Quiet and Simple Boats that are pedal powered; described simply as “Flaneur” a French word without a good equivalent in English – who knew!  Simply meaning “deliberately but aimlessly wandering as a pedestrian unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency”.

Similar in everyway to this little story in almost every way.  Enjoy your do-it-yourselfer project, I know I will!