Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rangeley Lakes Rowing Boat

Susan Van Leuven built the Rangeley Lakes Boat from The Newfound Woodworks to demonstrate wood strip boat construction for her very fine book:
"Woodstrip Rowing Craft, How to Build, Step by Step"

Crystal Ember is a fixed seat, stable 15 foot rowing craft designed for sport fishing. Easy to row and fast, this lovely boat can be built by amateurs and first time boat builders using Susan's thorough step by step explanation. The wood strip method has the advantage of being less technically challenging than other boat building methods, but as Susan is quick to acknowledge, very time consuming.

While working full time as a wildlife field biologist, Susan created Crystal Ember and the sliding seat rowing shell Gold Lady (pictured on the book cover) to demonstrate her technique and write a book about it.
The book is illustrated with pictures taken by her and her husband (who is a habitual boat builder) during every stage of building these two boats and the pictures alone are worth the price!

It took Susan five years to build her boats and in the process she reworked the designs to accommodate the wood strip construction process. It's a credit to her work that the wood strip method has become very popular with home builders.

I met Susan and talked with her at length about writing such a fine book about a gorgeous boat and came away very impressed with the woman and her work.
Look at that inlaid feature strip, and the classy finish!

Susan is also a painter who works with water colors. Her sense of color combination and graceful proportion are readily apparent.
Her boats are a compliment to the natural surroundings of their intended purpose.

She builds boats for the pure pleasure of it and takes them to shows all over the west to encourage others to build their own boats at home.

Her advice to women who want to build a boat for themselves?

Draw a line in the shop and declare your own work area independent of your boat building husband, crossed by invitation only!

Her book is available in hardback and a worthy addition to any boat building library.

Susan has also written "Illustrated Guide to Wood Strip Canoe Building".

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