Well, in fact, the title of the book is Building the 6 hour canoe , but why would we spend only six hours having fun when we could stretch it into 60 ( give or take a few)! Two summers ago I was talking with the son of the owner of the campground where we were working, and I floated the idea of building a boat. He seemed interested, so I lent him the book which described the project in great detail, and I figured that if he read it over the winter and got inspired, he would say something when we returned the following spring.
It was all I could do to keep from broaching the subject early in the season last year, but I resolved that if he was really interested, he would initiate the conversation… My patience was rewarded when , soon after finishing school, he said that he thought he would like to build the boat! At that point, I wasted no time and started to collect materials. I was thrilled to tackle another boat project, to putting the shop on the property to good use, and to be working with my new boat building partner !
But, he had a busy summer planned, and we had to work around camp, and entertaining friends, and all sorts of other summer distractions.. In the ideal world, with all of the parts cut out and ready to go, we probably could fabricate the boat in six hours.. That is the design purpose.. the plans were designed so that young students, with the help of mentors, could put a boat together and be on the water in a weekend…. a minimum of materials and expense rewarded with a great deal of immediate fun and satisfaction and, perhaps most important, an experience which plants the seeds of interest in wood working, boat building and boating that will only grow over a lifetime!
The time table that I had in my mind did not quite work out.. but that is nothing new for me 🙂 The picture at the top of this article is from last weekend when we returned to the camp ground with the specific purpose of putting the final touches on the construction phase. My young boat building partner was joined by two friends as we fit the keel and gunwales and then declared the boat finished, save for some final sanding and painting.
this is from last summer when we first started laying out and cutting the pieces of the boat.
things take shape pretty quickly when constructing a boat out of just two sheets of plywood – but we added the steps of covering the boat with fiberglass.. not only an introduction to woodworking but to working with fiberglass and epoxy as well…
no, this is not an advertisement for West.. always good to have a bottom on the boat.. This is about how far we made it last fall…
fast forward to last weekend !
when I first walked into the shop three years ago, and saw all of those clamps.. I thought, what a great place to build a boat.. and it is!
that is my wife surveying the progress… I think that she was beginning to feel like the project was going to get stuck in boat limbo.. like some of my other projects 🙂 Of course, I will get around to finishing all of them one day…
and there it is.. So why is a boat such a great project for kids.. well, we found that we could break the job up into a bunch of little pieces and spend no more than an hour at a time.. given the demands and the distractions in the world of young teens these days, that is about as much concentration as we can get at one time. But it also teaches the understanding that the way to tackle a big project that seems insurmountable, is to split it up into manageable pieces..
I would like to think that completing this boat will contribute to building a level of confidence that will inspire my young friend to dream and to tackle similar and even more complex projects on this own.. time will tell.