Monday, November 8, 2010

A Happy Day for Cat

A hearty congratulations goes out to Catherine. Cat has been a reader of this blog for a while and has just finished and launched her (second?) hand-built canoe - a Wee Lassie II:

The canoe is named Constance and is a slightly stretched version of Mac's design. As you can see from the pictures, Cat did a beautiful job of building and finishing Constance and should be justifiably proud of her new canoe.

However, launch day for many builders is both a bit nerve-wracking ("Oh no! I might scratch my new boat!") and leaves them feeling a little bit lost. ("Ok, I'm really done building my canoe? Now what?") I've noticed that there are paddlers and there are boat-builders and there are those who are both.

When working with two of my current students outside of class, I happened to meet a man who had tried to sign up for my class last year. Unfortunately, the class was full. He decided that he couldn't wait another year and ordered a kit from Newfound Woodworks for a Wee Lassie. He has since completed the kit and has spent some time paddling, but would like to build another boat. While he said that he liked to paddle, he admitted that he's one of those people who feels like more of a boat-builder than a paddler. I think we'll find that he builds more boats in the future.

One of my students who completed his boat last Spring enjoyed the class, but I think will probably not build another canoe. He was a paddler before he started the class and when his wife signed him up to take the class, I think for him it was a means to an end - paddling a home-made canoe. He's been having fun paddling his canoe and will probably continue to enjoy it for a long time to come.

Cat is one of those people who seems to fall into both categories. She appears to enjoy her paddling and her boat-building. Can't you tell?

Cat - time to make some home-made paddles now! (Just kidding!)


Cat said...


Thanks. :-) I'm very proud of her.

Constance is indeed my second canoe. I hope to have some better pictures soon but I have been too busy paddling (and building a canoe rack to hold my boats out of the way so I can free up the boatshop) to do it.

I was a paddler long before I became a builder, and built my first because I really wanted a good solo canoe and couldn't afford to buy one. Four years later I was feeling the constraint of not being able to take a friend along, hence Constance. Now I want another, so I can hit the lake with my dad and my brother when they come to visit.

I love the peace and quiet of the lake. I love watching the wake curl away from the bow, watching the contours of the bottom as I glide overhead, watching fish, from the smallest minnows that panic in schools and pop out of the water like reverse raindrops to the big monsters that are just a "gloop..." and a swirl in the water, and perhaps a fleeing shadow in the depths. I love filling up my ears with the silence that isn't silence--the whisper of the wind in the trees and the slurp and chuckle of the water around the hull, the plop of the paddle, the rattling cry of a kingfisher chasing a rival, the annoyed exclamation of a blue heron as your approach pushes her off the perch she just landed from to get *away* from you.

But to tell you the truth there is also something addictive about the long anticipation as I see the sweet lines of the canoe take shape in the boatshop. It's like being a kid in the Christmas season, except it lasts longer. So I put off paddling in order to work on the new boat :-)

I was initially planning to just slap Constance together real quick to have a loaner boat, but I have a hard time persuading myself to cut corners when a little more work (I always tell myself it will be just a *little* more work) will make it so much better. The epoxied surface will be there forever; why *not* take two more days to sand off *all* the glue? And so it goes...

Cat said...

Oh, and I meant to say, I have thought about building paddles.

But the weight of paddles is very important. A canoe you handle at the beginning and end of the trip (and any portages, if that applies.) A paddle you pick up and swing twenty or thirty times a minute. I'm concerned that if I made a home made paddle it would be too heavy.

Also I use a double paddle; the commercial ones break down for storage. I don't know how to make a joint like that (especially not a lightweight one) and I don't know anyplace I could buy one.

So I've toyed with the idea of paddles but never done anything.

Canoez said...

Paddle making isn't as difficult as you think and if you are careful with your wood selection, it will be a light-weight paddle - probably lighter than those that you can buy. I've used both redwood and cedar for shaft materials with good luck.

Chesapeake Light Craft sells both carbon-fiber and stainless steel ferrules to make take-apart paddles, BTW.

Cat said...

Hmm. I went over to Chesapeake Light Craft to have a look, and now have several more items to add to my Christmas wish list :-)

Thanks for the pointer.