Friday, August 5, 2011

The Trouble With Building Your Own Boat, you start thinking about building other things.

When I hear from someone like Erik Mancini, it's a really good day.
Erik wrote me a few months back with a wide open question - "what would you recommend I build?". He had a few choices and I remember making mine based on the beauty of design coupled with reports of good sailing qualities in a rowing boat. There was a video of the Northeaster Dory from CLC with a modified lug sail rig making good time to windward and I said "this is a boat I would like for myself".

Apparently the design spoke to Erik too because he ordered a kit for the boat and is about to finish his first build, ever. He sounds serious because his most recent note asked about making his own oars. All this from a guy who's never built anything before!

This is what he told me:

"I am by no means a handy individual, so it was with some serious trepidation that I decided to try and assemble a boat from a kit. Truthfully, much of the impetus was economic. I wanted a boat that was small enough to keep in my garage and that was capable under sail and oar. Boat builders that specialize in this are few and far between and are quite costly."

"I must say that the act of building it has given me a certain amount of confidence with other projects that I would never consider before. I guess you learn that going deliberately and seeing steps in chunks takes away the uncomfortable feeling most unskilled guys like me get when they're confronted with a technical task. Most of all, you learn that asking for help from people with more experience is the only way to fly. I think the guys over at Chesapeake Light Craft recognize my voice over the phone by now. They've been super helpful and tolerant of my newbie questions. Also, online forums and bloggers like yourself are indispensable to a first time builder."

"When I tell people I'm building my own boat or when they see my progress in person the look they give me is worth all of the sanding and head scratching. This may sound a bit out of left field, but I think accomplishing something like this engenders a real sense of nonconformity (at least for a suburban American). A lot of people I know cannot fathom why I wouldn't just save up and buy a boat (preferably with an engine)...isn't that what we're taught to do in our consumer culture? It's funny, every day I get closer to finishing this boat I feel happier and happier I decided to build it. At this point even if I could have just bought one, I'm truly glad I didn't."

"This way, it really is my own boat."

Amen, Erik!

The last two photos of the Northeaster Dory, courtesy of Chesapeake Light Craft, tm.
Remaining photos courtesy of Erik Mancini.


Chris Partridge said...

Looks like he is doing a great job!
Makes my three year prevarication over my build look wussy indeed.

Graham Neil said...

I've seen that look of bemusement in peoples faces when they just don't comprehend. I've also seen that knowing look of understanding and recognition in the eyes of a like minded stranger.

doryman said...

Yes, Chris - we're waiting...

That's why we hang out with other boatnuts. The world-at-large thinks we're just nuts.