Carved Boat Indoors

Shake up your routine

Tracey Columns

I had a little break from my work routine this week and I found it quite enjoyable. But before I explain what I mean, you need some background information.

As you’ve read here before, my husband is a wooden boat builder. Over the years he’s crafted everything from a 6’ dinghy to a 23’9” Chesapeake Bay Pilot House cruiser, six boats in all.

Sharing time on the water and all the related adventures is something we’ve enjoyed now for many years. Thanks to his boats our kids learned to sail and because of his efforts, as empty nesters, we’ve spent time happily exploring the waters off of British Columbia.

With our eye set on being able to enjoy boating well into our Golden Years, yes, we are that optimistic, we knew we needed to make a few adjustments in what kind of boat we had. So last September we sold our last boat at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. While both of us were sad to see her go — surprisingly sad because really, she was a boat after all — we knew it had to be.

Why? Because my husband was already half way through the next boat, a 27.5’ foot wooden beauty of a similar design and the money to finish her had to come from somewhere!

This next boat will have all of the creature comforts we can possibly imagine: a 9 foot enclosed cabin; a table with seats; a two burner stove; a fridge; a (cold) water supply with a sink; and even a head! (Oh, what a glorious step up from the porta potty years!) We see ourselves ending up as a couple of weathered old sailors … duly noting that we are already well into that image.

Fully retired, my husband spends most of his waking hours down in his shop, plugging away at this truly enormous project. The amount of work that goes into such a well crafted vessel is staggering. But it’s his passion and I am grateful, on so many levels, that this is how he chooses to spend his time. (I’d be in a major pout if model trains had caught his attention. Now, don’t get me wrong – I love model trains. But you can’t take an HO gauge train set to the middle of Desolation Sound, British Columbia and drop anchor. Well, you could but what fun would that be?)

He’s an accomplished woodworker and his skills on this boat are tested daily. So you can imagine how surprised I was when he asked me when I could help him attaching the ‘rub rail’ all along the sides of the boat. Forget work. I jumped at the opportunity!

The rub rail is a 1”x3” strip of African Sepele wood (a sustainable forest product, more dense and heavier than mahogany) that runs the length of the entire deck. It is finished off with another 1”x1” piece of Sepele on top. Everything is screwed into place — about 140 screws in all — and each of these holes is filled with a wooden plug dipped in epoxy resin, set with a couple of taps of a hammer.

My job? To help hold things as he bent, and then secured, the pieces into place, a two-step process that took some muscle (mostly his) and ingenuity. (All his!)  After this phase, I wiped off the excess resin and then started plugging up all of those little holes.

Rocket science? Hardly. But I can’t tell you how much fun it was to be part of the process for a couple of hours, to be down there amidst the endless sawdust, getting dirty, sharing in this tiniest of ways, building our boat. The dog happily ran around under our feet and I felt like life was good.

My take away? Mix things up whenever you can. It doesn’t have to be complex, it doesn’t have to take a ton of money or time. Just aim to do something a little out of the ordinary. Break up your daily routine and see how you feel as a result because at this age, we need all of the satisfying moments we can find!

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