Local Boy Makes Good

What a ride folks. It has been nothing short of a whirlwind wrapping up here in the corn crib and I apologize for the lack of updates. It was a big shift to change gears and build the carbon fiber shell that will be raced, while the wooden hull we have built will just be used as a dummy to fool the rest of the fleet. It will be tricky to tow both hulls to the race course without anyone noticing, but we’re working on some 007, double-secret-probation kind of stuff to pull it off..

Ah, come on. I’m kidding. The punch list just took quite a bit of time; didn’t see that one coming.

After we glassed the deck, I had some help from other hands in the yard to apply a lighter weight fiberglass cloth over the bottom of the hull to help protect from impact and abrasion. Once the whole hull was covered we flipped her sunny-side up again and began work on the coamings, chicken beak, bowsprit and bumpkin. The curved sections of the sapele coaming required laminating thin pieces around a jig before trimming the upper and lower profile and finally cutting a rabbet in the outboard side in order to notch over the deck. The chicken beak I made out of two pieces of sitka spruce splined together before installing it on the bow with tenons and a healthy dose of G-Flex. Next I laminated more spruce with some fir mixed in to build the bowsprit.

With the chicken beak and bowsprit finished, I built the outrigger by laminating more fir for and then marine plywood for the seat and seat-back where the mainsail trimmer will sit. This iconic perch off the stern of the canoe is called the bumpkin and makes for one of the best seats in the house... albeit the main trimmer will frequently end up in a stare down with other boats’ bowsprits. Next came supports for the centerboard case and thwarts to brace the centerboard against the inside of the hull. The final component of the centerboard case was the cap; two pieces of sapele mitered together to cover the aft end of box while providing access to the centerboard up forward. The final pieces to be installed on the boat were blocks of sapele at both sets of mast partners to serve as the bearing surface for the masts.

I was able to snag some helpers from the yard in making the spray rails which attach to the deck on either side of the bowsprit. Then we built the stongbacks which run on the deck for the length of the cockpit and serve as the resting surface for the hiking boards when out over the windward side of the hull. On a boat with this much freeboard in the bow, the spray rails will be more for looks than the degree of function that other canoes rely on to keep the wakes of passing Sea Ray’s at bay (please slow down when passing a race in progress, or log canoe in general). With these last pieces built, I shaped them to fit the deck, but the owner will be installing them once the hull is painted. Then with a final fillet around the outside of the coaming, Caroline’s time in the crib came to an end.

I spent a morning with some other hands from the yard and some forklift finagling, getting the trailer underneath the boat and the afternoon adjusting and rearranging bunks on the trailer to better fit the hull. The next morning, with a gentle yank from the electric yard cart, trailer and canoe rolled out of the crib for the very first time. In a moment of sunlight and surreal splendor; what came into the crib as five separate logs, left as a complete log canoe. This was only the beginning for Caroline. Once she is painted, has a rig, hiking boards, spars, sails and foils; she will embark on the most exciting part of her journey yet. As for me, it’s time to get back to my roots, fire up a chainsaw and and join the fellas big footing timbers for the new Maryland Dove.

Lucky enough to have grown up with the Miles River as an integral part of my life and watching the canoes sail before sailing them myself for years; really means I am lucky enough. But, I owe a great thanks to Michael Gorman and CBMM for including me in this project and giving me the opportunity to join the other esoteric craftsmen who have built canoes long ago and over recent years. I hope all have enjoyed this project as much as we have and if you are worried about your weekly blog intake, don’t think you’re rid of me yet. If I work on a canoe in the corn crib any longer I’ll get yelled at, but the Dove can’t blog itself….

CM