Row, Row, Row Your Boat …
Posted by Hal in Projects

What do you do when you want a boat for vacation but you don’t have one to borrow and can’t afford to buy?

Daniel Beard said build your own!

Every year we spend some time at my family’s little lake house in South Carolina, relaxing, writing, and doing some planning. We have a kayak we got from the boys’ uncle when he moved to China (I don’t think you’d want to be a  kayak in the ship channel in Shanghai), and we had a great time with a borrowed canoe last year but now we’re back to the one-seater and inner tubes again. We’ve been shopping around for a used canoe but since they start in the $400-range, other expenses have taken priority this summer.

But for Christmas this year our boys got a reprint of Daniel Beard’s 1911 book, Boat-Building and Boating (we ordered our from J. M. Cremp’s). Beard was one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America and their national commissioner for thirty years, and the thing which caught my attention in this book is the can-do attitude he encourages. So, boys, you want a canoe for yourself? he asks. You want your own rowboat, sailboat, or even a houseboat to explore around in? Well, get your hammer and saw and go build one! Here’s how …

Now Beard lived in an era when everything shipped in barrels and wooden crates. In his day scrap lumber was like used cardboard–freely available all over the place, and long, wide boards easy to come by. Things are a little different today. On the other hand, we have something Daniel Beard didn’t–plywood–not to mention power tools to make things easier.

So inspired by Mr. Beard, I thought to myself–why not? And now the boys and I (with some help from little sister Susannah) are working on our own boat, just like he suggested.  The picture shows it about half finished, but let me back up and tell the story in order …