Boat #1: "Dory" (Plan #304) by Glen-L Marine
For a first boat, this one came out well. The full size plans from Glen-L Marine were excellent and included plywood layouts to show how to fully utilize each sheet. I used exterior grade plywood and covered it with a combination of fiberglass cloth, fiberglass mat and polyester resin. My friend, Steve Hutchins (on the left), helped me with the coating. Basically, we slammed multiple coats of matting/cloth on the boat and then covered it with generous coats of polyester resin. The problem that this created was that a huge amount of sanding was needed to put a glass smooth finish on the boat. Later, I attended Wooden Boat School and learned the proper way to finish a boat from Ted Moores.
Boat #2: " Can-Yak" (Plan #300) by Glen-L Marine
Launch day at Tierra Verde, Florida
This Glen-L boat was harder to build than the dory. I built the boat out of luan and had a hard time torturing the wood in the bow and stern into place. I finally started cutting the wood into strips, and invented my own version of "stitch and glue" and strip building (without the stitches or the taped seams). The project finally came together and I sanded the whole thing smooth and covered it with epoxy and cloth. The end result was a crude but tolerably good looking boat, and a friend who lives near the water was glad to get it.
Boat #3: "Charlotte" by Tom Hill
Outwale being clamped. Note that the jig for this boat is off to the left.
Bare boat - planking completed, outwale installed, and ready for breasthooks, inwale and spacers.
Completed boat - ready for paint.
Skiff near completion.
This boat was built during one of two trips to Wooden Boat School (WBS). Words cannot describe the WBS experience! WBS is located in the small town of Brooklin, Maine, on the Downeast Coast. The school is housed on what used to be a small farm. Workshops are located in converted barns, and the administrative offices are located in the old manor. For a more detailed description, see the section titled WBS.
Our instructor, Tom Hill, is a master boat builder and has been involved in and/or supervised the construction of numerous large and craft. Tom has a dry sense of humor and ran an informative and interesting class. Classes started on a Monday morning and the first order of business was to learn how to sharpen chisels and planes. That being accomplished, the class of ten students was divided into two groups. One group built the ultra-light 11 1/2 lapstrake canoe Charlotte, and the other group built a 14 hard chined skiff. At each new phase of instruction Tom would gather the class and explain and demonstrate a procedure/skill. At the end of the week the entire class had worked 5 eight hour days and the finished products were two absolutely drop-dead handsome boats. The class drew straws and the winners were allowed to purchase the boats for the cost of materials!
Tom has written an excellent book - Ultralight Boatbuilding, which can be purchased by contacting The Wooden Boat Store.
Boat #4: "Six Hour Canoe" by William Bartoo, John Montague, and Richard Butz
While at WBS I bought a lot of books. One of them was Building the Six-Hour Canoe, written by William Bartoo, John Montague, and Richard Butz (which can also be purchased at The Wooden Boat Store.) I had read a lot about this boat, which has been used by numerous organizations to introduce families to boatbuilding. When I got home I put the book on a shelf with the idea of building a canoe in the future. The kid next door, Steve Petagna, was talking with me one day and out of the blue asked me to help him build a boat. He had just taken up fly fishing and needed a way to get out onto the flats. I dug out the my book on the Six Hour Canoe and he really got excited. Within days he had badgered his mother into buying the supplies. We selected 1/4 inch marine plywood. He came over every day after school and religiously worked on his project. I gave him basic instruction and looked over his shoulder, but he cut every plank, glued every joint, tightened every clamp, and sanded, varnished and painted the entire boat. We stuck with the basic book plans, but added a few features that I picked up at WBS - a fancy breasthook and an inwale with spacers. We also reinforced the bow and epoxied a section of PVC pipe through the reinforced area to allow for a carrying hook/tie down strap. Steve was thrilled with his boat and it was a very gratifying experience for me. An interesting note - John Montague, one of the writers of the book, grew up a half a block from my house!
Boat #5: Six Hour Canoe
You guessed it! I had such a good time with Steve that I decided I needed a Six Hour Canoe for myself! This boat went together easily and I've enjoyed paddling through the mangroves and bayous where I live.
Boat #6: 16 Foot Cedar Strip Canoe by Ted Moores
Part of our WBS class. I'm the only one with a cup in his hand. Directly to my right is Ted Moores. Over my left shoulder with a light cap is a student with whom I've stayed in touch, Nate Podkaminer. Nate's daughter, Kara, is the young lady to the left of me in the bib overalls with the tanned arms.
This was my second trip to WBS, and it was every bit as enjoyable as the first. Ted Moores, our instuctor, is probably one of the most meticulous craftsmen I have ever met. Before the class started, he explained that this was not to be a "practice" boat. He wanted us to build the boat to professional standards so that we would be proud of the finished product. He also said that he did not like noise, dust, or a messy work area. He lived up to his word. He explained numerous techniques that he had learned over the years and we built a beautiful, precision boat. Ted recently put out an excellent book, Canoecraft, which can also be purchased at The Wooden Boat Store.
Boat #7: Sculling Skiff Plan #353 by Glen-L Marine
Sections laid out before assembly.
Sophie inspects the first stitches and the jig at the center of the boat.
Boat with deck glued, outwale installed, and forward and aft bulkheads installed.
Interior painted and fore and aft thwarts installed.
George inspects partially finished boat on trolley made of wheelchair.
Photo courtesy of Dennis Whalen
This is the first boat I built using the stitch and glue method, and was highly labor intensive (due to the sanding/finishing). This 17 foot shell was built to order for a neighbor, who as a young man rowed shells on a lake in Switzerland. The plywood was made out of 4mm okume, the outwales are cedar, the thwarts are mahogany, and the top is cedar strip, (a recently learned skill from WBS). The boat weighs a little over 40 lbs and goes through the water like a scalded cat. (Note: If you have never rowed a shell before you should know that operating this boat requires a high degree of skill/practice as it is stabilized solely by extending the oars i.e. if you are at a standstill with the oars in, the boat will tip over immediately. George is highly proficient and rows this boat every other day.) This boat also features a high tech sliding seat and specially ordered oars.