Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wanna build a boat???

I think most of us boaters at one time or another have dreamed about building a boat. The reasons for it are probably as varied as all of us are. Some of us consider the economy of building a boat from scratch versus buying one new off the showroom floor. Others think of the romance involved in designing and building your own boat and then sailing it around the world. I think boat building in general appeals to the rebel that seems to be inside every boater.

That's all well and fine, but the reality of boat building is seldom anything like the fantasy of boat building. To build a seaworthy vessel from scratch can be a truly daunting venture; one of years of work, frustration, disappointment and, most of the time, non-completion. It is a sad fact that those who actually complete a boat and go cruising on it often measure the task in the number of years it took and the number of marriages it cost.

However, boat building isn't all despair and heartache. If the amateur boat builder approaches the project with realistic expectations and an honest appraisal of his or her skill level, it can be fun and very rewarding! That is why I recommend starting small to everyone that comes to me interested in building a boat. That's where your good old Uncle John comes in.

I'm referring of course to Uncle John's Pirogues, a company here in Louisiana that sells kits for the first-time boat builder. For those of you out of state, a pirogue is essentially a flat-bottomed canoe. Uncle John's pirogue kit comes with all the instructions to build a pirogue any size from 12 feet to 16 feet. More important, the kit comes with the necessary frames, eliminating what is probably the most difficult aspect of building a boat. The kit sells for $57.50 and that includes shipping.

They call this boat the 6-hour canoe, because that's how quickly it can be built. In all honesty, it took me about 3 weeks of working a few hours at a time to build mine. But I built a big one (16 feet) and I fiberglassed it, stained the inside, and painted the hull. Start to finish, including the cost of the kit, I had a really nice boat for about $200. Here are some pictures of the one I built:

As you can see, it can be done! This was a very easy project, but it taught me a LOT of the basics of boat building. I now know that I really enjoy building boats and I'm ready to tackle a much larger project. If you think you might like to build boats, or just want a great boat for about $200, get in touch with Uncle John's and get to work!

Feel free to leave any questions or comments and I'll be sure to get back to you soon.

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