Before I became captivated by designing and making jewelry I was obsessed with building wooden boats. In the mid 90’s I built a few small wooden boat models from kits. One evening I was working on one when my dear wife said something like, “Why don’t you build us a real one...ha, ha, ha.” Hmmm, I thought, why not. After some research, I ordered the plans for and completed a small wooden dory.
That first boat was in some ways the most interesting and certainly the most challenging of all my boats. The advertisement for the plans clearly stated, “Comes with complete building instructions.” When I opened the plans, one 8½” x 11” hand written page came fluttering out. About 10 numbered steps were written on yellow lined paper, very elegant. They were the “complete” building instructions. To make it worse, the dimensions on the plans were in metric! But I was not discouraged. After much thinking, a lot of sweat and not too much blood I had a beautiful wooden dory. It not only looked great it rowed very well. I sold it to a coworker, I knew that I would be building more boats.
When a friend saw the completed dory, he asked me to help him build a kayak from a kit that he had purchased. He had started it but soon realized that he needed help. It was an 18-foot sea kayak, a stable and comfortable boat. That was my first kayak. After that came more kayaks, three sailboats, two canoes and then more kayaks. I’ve completed 17 boats in all.
My “shop” is a one car garage where I keep tools and a two-car carport where I build my boats. Except for mid-summer, working outside in Austin is generally pleasant.
I built a worktable on large rubber casters. It can be moved so that both cars can still park undercover. I take the table apart and store it in the garage when not in use.
Most of the boats were sold, one I gave to a friend and one sailboat was such a bad design that I cut it up and it went to land fill. Four of the kayaks are in the garage or under the carport. The last one I built, a 14-footer is for sale. Contact me if you are interested.
My wife and I enjoy kayaking and are paddling on local lakes most of the year. All of my kayaks are sit-inside. We wear a spray-skirt that keeps us mostly dry in a rain shower and keeps water out of the boat. It also keeps the sun off of our legs in the summer.
I’m thinking about building one-more-boat. It will be a 17-foot sea kayak built with cedar strips. It’s similar to one that we have had for 20 years but will be lighter weight and even more beautiful.