Saturday, July 26, 2008

Canoe Decision

With the impending birth of my little one around early October, I've actually been stressing out and running myself ragged trying to get all my canoe & paddle projects out of the way before then. Everyone keeps telling me that when the baby comes, I'll have ZERO free time for the next year or two. I've therfore convinced myself (with the wife's approval) that this is the summer to build a canoe. Though I still fully intend to build a full scale birchbark canoe based on my completed Attikamek model, the amount of labour and time just for for harvesting the materials all by myself (especially so late into the season) made me realize that this should be a long term project and one that I should tackle gradually. In the end, I don't want to rush and end up with an unusable boat. But with the baby clock time ticking away, I'm eager to get my very own hand built boat made this summer.

Since the material cost of building a full-sized birchbark canoe is relatively inexpensive (but with no guarantee that I can pull it off), I've decided to pursue my canoe building dreams with a professional builder. I've officially enrolled in Pam Wedd's build course just outside Parry Sound where over 9 intensive days, we'll be building my very own 14ft cedar canvas canoe based on an historic, circa 1890's E.H. Gerrish mold. Pam's Bearwood Canoe Company is really famous around here and her premium canoes (decked out with Sitka Spruce inwales, Black Cherry trim, hand-caned seats) retail for over $5000. The course build cost is about half that price with the added bonus of learning all these skills in a one-to-one setting. Seeing a finished model of the intended boat at the WCHA assembly sealed the deal for was gorgeous!

Pam's 14ft Gerrish model I'll be building

As a history buff, I was also attracted to the fact that E.H. Gerrish is apparently accepted as the first commercial builder of cedar-canvas canoes having basically adapted the building process of the local Penobscot natives in Maine to use oil-sealed canvas as a replacement for birchbark. In the end, I'll end up with my own hand-built boat (under professional supervision) that is the next best thing to a bark canoe while probably learning some extra woodworking skills that'll help me out during the future birchbark build.

So basically during the days I'll be working on this Cedar Canvas canoe and in any spare time, I'll be gradually working on the bark build. Somewhere in there will be my wife's OB-GYN appointments and time for sleep.


Bryan Sarauer said...

Hi Murat,
I'm sure you'll enjoy building the cedar canvas canoe, and will learn a lot.

Don't worry, you'll still have some time after the kid arrives. Not as much perhaps, and maybe the hours will be odd, but you'll still find some time.

Now after number two arrives .....


The Knife said...

Well I have to admit that canoes are not something which I know anything at all about, let alone making one, but looking at that photo of the one you are going to build I have to say that it really is a beautiful object. Wood is a very appealing material especially when wored with skill.

Dawne said...

Such a beautiful canoe!! You do incredible work... I love the detail you put into the decks and center thwart.

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