Saturday, October 22, 2011

The World's Most Expensive Canoe

While you probably don't believe me, the canoe below is probably one of the most expensive canoes that I've ever seen:

Until this morning, I hadn't thought about it much.  One of my students commented on the thought and I started putting two and two together. (and two more and two more....)   It's sort of like the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.  (If you haven't read it, you should - even if you're not 6 years old.)  It started out innocently enough - and built upon itself.  

Let me tell you a story.

About 2-1/2 years ago, a woman came to the first night of exhibition at the school where I teach.  At this exhibition, the students display the work they've been doing in their various classes, including our canoes.  This woman saw the canoes and returned with her husband the next day for the second part of the exhibition.  She insisted that she and her husband wanted to sign up for up-coming session of the class that would start in the Fall and that they wanted to build a tandem canoe.  When I informed her that we did solo double-paddle canoes, she still insisted that it should be a tandem.

As I'd had others interested in building two-seat canoes, I spent time over the summer choosing what I felt would be the best, most versatile design  - and one that we could actually get into the shop.  The canoe chosen was the Prospector Ranger 15 from the Bear Mountain Boat Shop.  After some real thinking about it, I figured out how to lighten both forms and strongback as well as lowering the forms so we could get it into the shop every week.

True to their word, this couple came to sign up for the class - the die was cast!

In the first session, they brought in stock to build the strongback and station molds, along with the Western Red Cedar that would become the strips for the hull.  They then proceeded to select one of the more expensive woods we use for accent strips - Peruvian Walnut for use in the feature strip and for all the major trim work but the decks.  The decks?  Oh, they're just from a piece of Mesquite - custom cut on a friends bandsaw mill, no less.  In addition to the materials they've purchased, they've also purchased hand tools necessary to build the canoe including saws, plane, chisels and the like.

We'll fast forward a little bit here...  After having two students sign up for a total of 4 semesters (that's tuition for 8 class semesters total at at this point...) we are in the middle of the 4th semester.  Glassing of the the hull's interior is nearing completion and seats are being built.  At this point, the couple realizes that they need a vehicle that will be able to carry this canoe as they don't feel the small cars they have are appropriate - and one needs replacement anyway.  So, they get a new car to carry the canoe.  Then something happens to the car - there was an accident under some concerning circumstances. (perhaps the car, not the driver...)  They decide they are uncomfortable with this vehicle and get a different, new, vehicle for the canoe.  Oh - and the racks to go on the vehicle.

At the end of the semester, a serious blow has been dealt to their plans.  The couple live in a condominium that is several flights of stairs up from ground level and don't have a garage.   The canoe was going to live in a garage belonging to friends to keep the friends' existing canoe 'company'.  However, the friends have purchased two plastic kayaks and now there is no space in the garage for the Prospector.  Brains are wracked for solutions, but none come to light.

Until August.

We had a nice summer picnic at the camp belonging to one of the other students to work on the caning of the canoe seats.  It is a lovely place on a pond not far from here.   The couple building the Prospector had a wonderful day at the camp and was enamored of the idea of a rustic little place on a lake somewhere.  

Fast forward to this Fall.

The couple returns to sign up for their last semester of boat-building.   We hear the excited news that the couple has purchased a log cabin on a piece of water a bit further away so that the canoe will have a home.

So, to tally:

Materials to build the canoe - Check.
Hand tools for building the canoe - Check.
10 semesters worth of tuition - Check.
Two - count 'em - two new cars to transport canoe - Check.
Log cabin at the lake to store and use the canoe - Check.

While I don't know the actual dollar total, all I can say is that at this point it is a substantial sum of money that has been expended here.  I hope they love to paddle!  

This morning, the subject of their planned launch party - to take place this June at the log cabin at the lake - came up.  Perhaps the last expense of their canoe-building odyssey.  I half-jokingly said that if they served no beverage other than champagne at the party (Dom Perignon at that...) that the party wouldn't be the most expensive part of the whole building process!

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