I became involved in boat building because I wanted a canoe and could not afford to buy a factory boat. Over the years, I have built several different boats for different uses. In the meantime, I have restored boats for friends and for myself. Here are some of my projects and some of the boats I enjoy paddling.

Guillemot Expedition Single, Current Project
I have drooled over the gorgeous photos of this boat for years now and it seemed that the winter of 2014-15 was the right winter to tackle a new kayak project. The 19' length is probably the longest boat that I would be able to build in my garage and I've had some trouble getting around it. The hull is completed and has fiberglass on the outside. The deck has been completed, and I am currently fairing and sanding it in preparation for inlaying some details. I have specific ideas about design and the appearance of this part of the boat. I plan to take my time even if it takes an additional winter. The boat, however, is already named. The birth of our granddaughter calls for a boat in her honor. Miss Emmala will be launched whenever it is ready. I do not yet have a launch date in mind. I may post a builder blog later. I've got all of the construction pictures, but I am waiting to post them to the web.

We no nah Recon, acquired February, 2015
The years are going by and I am not getting any younger. A safe boat for traveling down rivers solo and perhaps a bit of playing seems to be in order. I got an opportunity to purchase a bare hull and custom outfit it to my needs and style. Driving home from Denver in very high winds with a brand new canoe on the roof of our Subaru Imprezza was a bit of a challenge, but we had no problems. The shiny new boat has no scratches on it yet and promises to be a lot of fun.

Wavesport Z
Wavesport Z, acquired July 2013
I’ve been thinking about getting a play boat for some time now. I am not up to running the creeks and rivers with the really high ratings, but I have paddled rivers quite a bit in other boats and was looking for something that would be fun, take a beating, and allow me to play in creeks like Rapid Creek, which is really quite tame, even at high water flows. The opportunity to purchase an old Wavesport at a reasonable price gave me a boat without much investment. The Wavesport Z is designed for larger paddlers, but with the addition of a little extra foam around my thighs, it fits me quite well. It turns on a dime, paddles forward and backward with equal ease, edges easily and in general is a fun boat for play. I can’t wait to get it into the surf!

Chester Yawl
15’ Chester Yawl, Launched July, 2012
The birth of our grandson demanded a boat that was a bit more stable than canoes and kayaks for first explorations with a young boy. I chose the Chester Yawl kit from Chesapeake Light Craft and spent most of a winter assembling and preparing the boat. The kit was first rate in every aspect and I added a few unique touches including an inlaid compass rose on the bow seat, three rowing stations so it can be rowed by one or two rowers, full bumpers all around to take a bit of abuse around the dock and a few other assorted features. The boat has been rowed in nearby lakes as well as making a trip to the Puget Sound for its sea trials in salt water with our grandson on board. Our grandson is named Elliot, so “Mister E” was a great name for the boat (pun intended). The gold letters fit just right on the wineglass transom of the boat.

Skin on frame kayak
17’6” Greenland Kayak - Launched 2007
With our son and daughter-in law living in Olympia, Washington, I decided to build a longer kayak to use for exploring the Puget Sound. Additional speed and versatility were goals for this boat. Built to the lines of the 17’ Greenland Kayak in George Putz’s book, “Wood and Canvas Kayak Building,” I stretched out the bow and stern to make the boat pleasing to my eye. The skin on frame construction began with the gift of two planks of quarter-sawn Black Hills Spruce from a friend. I milled the spruce and built the frame exclusively from these boards. After the frame was completed I decided to cover it with aircraft fabric rather than canvas. I decided to go with the Stitts polyurethane process and was pleased with my results. The color is Juneau white on the top and forest green on the bottom.

I decided to go with redwood strips for the floor of the boat - a little overkill and it made the boat a bit heavy, but the weight makes it very stable in the water. Without a rudder, it turns a little more ponderously than my other kayaks, but it is a joy to paddle once one gets used to it. I am delighted with the results and am sure that I’ll build other skin on frame boats in the future. The boat had original sea trials at Sheridan Lake after its launching on September 7, 2007 and got its first sea water in the Puget Sound in the last two weeks of October. More adventures lie ahead for the little boat, I’ve named Paha Sapa, for its heart of Black Hills spruce.

Old Town Otter Kayak
Old Town Otter - Acquired June, 2007
Lest anyone think that I am some kind of canoe or kayak elitist, I will admit that I do own a “tupper-boat.” It is built by Old Town to the lines of the Otter, but with a bulkhead, a rear hatch and without the otter decals. I bought it at the Old Town factory outlet store in Maine when on vacation there in the summer of 2007. The boat is stable and fun and perfect for beginners. And it is not as fragile as my other kayaks so can be used on ice snow and other forms of water and also can be used in rivers where there are risks of hitting rocks. With its short length it turns easily, but it isn’t a true white water kayak by any means. It is just a fun play boat.

Old Town OCTA Canoe
1960 Old Town OTCA 16’ - Relaunched May, 2006

I got my opportunity to own my own OTCA through a letter one day. The letter-writer informed me that he had heard that I liked wooden canoes and that he had a canoe that would be heading for the dump unless I wanted it. I called the letter writer immediately and went over to take a look. The canoe wasn’t trash at all! The canvas was shot, and there was rot in both stems. One deck board was cracked. There was a break in one gunwale (both rails) , two broken ribs and three or four holes in the planking. I offered them a modest price, but they refused the money and were happy just to have me take the boat off of their hands. It took two years of very part-time work to get he boat ready for the water.

The boat originally belonged to the Whitney family. David Gwinn purchased it after he had damaged it when he borrowed it. It sat for nearly 20 years on saw horses under a tarp in the family back yard before coming to my garage for work. It is a little heavy for an everyday canoe, but what a wonderful boat! It is so quiet in the water and stable to paddle. It is a great boat for beginners or those who aren’t quite at home in a canoe.

Prospector Wooden Canoe
16’ “Prospector” Woodstrip - Launched May 2001 - (middle boat on trailer)
After completing the restoration of the Bray OTCA, I decided that I wanted another tandem canoe, this one with a little more rocker for quicker turning and use in rivers and lakes alike. I chose the lines of the Chestnut Prospector and purchased plans from Bear Mountain Boat Shop. The boat turned out to be one of my all time favorite canoes. “If I could afford to have only one canoe . . .” This one might be the canoe. It is made of cedar that I obtained in Port Angeles Washington and brought back home, with mahogany gunwales and accent strips. It is a simple, basic and wonderful all around canoe with great manners and great handling qualities for one or two paddlers and has good cargo capacity for trips and adventures. I built a mount for a trolling motor one year, but decided that it was little advantage to us and definitely not worth the hassle, so sold the motor and have gone back to paddling.

1942 Old Town OTCA
1942 16’ Old Town OTCA - Relaunched April 2000

I met Eleanor Bray because I stopped in a gas station with a couple of canoes on the roof of my car. Our conversation soon led to talk of canoes and she informed me that she was seeking someone to re-canvas her 1942 OTCA. It was in original shape, with a little rot in the stems and the cane seats broken through.

After studying the process of canvassing canoes, I decided to tackle the project. The old canvas was removed and the interior of the boat was stripped. Repairs were made to the stems and a small amount of planking near the bow was replaced. A split in one of the decks was repaired, taking care not to disrupt the original Old Town Decal. The seats were re-caned and the interior varnished.

I used the same canvas as originally used, and lead-based canvas filler. After filling the weave, the boat was painted in the original green color with paint obtained from Old Town. All of the diamond bolts were polished and the canoe was reassembled. The results were beautiful and the canoe paddles like a dream.

Little Awk Sea Kayak

Little Awk Sea Kayak, launched May, 1999
After swamping my Wee Lassie in the Puget Sound and reading Nick Schade’s “The Strip-Built Sea Kayak,” I ordered a set of plans and built the Little Awk. It has proven to be a great overall boat that I have paddled in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as numerous lakes and rivers.

I employed pine and a little bit of redwood on the decks to provide some contrast with the cedar hull. With an occasional sanding and fresh coat of varnish, the book has held up well to a lot of use in the water and a lot of being hauled on the roof of various vehicles.

After paddling for a while on my homemade seat and with homemade foot pedals, I purchased a seat and a set of foot pedals from Bear Mountain Boat shop and have been very pleased with them. I have a spray skirt and a cockpit cover for when I’m not using the boat.

It was a great project and a fun boat.

Wee Lassie - Cedar Strip Solo Canoe, launched June, 1998
Built to the plans in Mac McCarthy’s excellent book, “Featherweight Boatbuilding,” this is actually the Wee Lassie II design that will carry more than 300 pounds while maintaining the shallow draft and light weight that make the Wee Lassie such a fun overall boat. The seat is very low in the center of the boat and it is easier to paddle with a double paddle than with a conventional canoe paddle. This boat has traveled extensively on the roof of various vehicles and has been paddled in the Pacific Ocean, Puget Sound, and lakes and rivers throughout the midwest and northwest.

17’ Sailing Canoe - “Stripper” - Launched April 1994
This woodstrip canoe was built to a design from Clark Craft over the winter of 1993-94 on our patio in Boise, Idaho. The seats were hand-caned and the results were acceptable.

In 1999, I undertook a re-building of the boat, making several changes. The gunwale system was replaced with mahogany and an open design as I had used in subsequent boats. New thwarts and a mast step were designed and built as well as new seats. A mast, boom and sail were added along with lee boards and a rudder.

I am not a sailer and haven’t had much experience sailing this canoe, but it is a lot of fun and the basic tandem canoe is still a good boat for a paddle. We’ve had the boat in the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers in Montana, area lakes, and a lot of other places.

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