we dont need a bigger boat

small craft building and sailing

It starts with a plan

Last Month I went to Chesapeake Light Craft’s Open house and “Okoumefest”. There I was introduced to all their boats and how they are designed, built, and kitted up. I also learned that they buy all their Okoume and Sapele Plywood from the importer based somewhere in New Jersey. My local mill also carries Okoume and Sapele, so it is a safe assumption they get it from the same source as we are both Located in NJ.

With tools in hand, a small amount of dangerous knowledge, and a bit of know-how. I ordered just the plans from CLC and the plywood from the mill. Once both were in my grubby little hands, it was time to get down to building.

First up came the building table. This is two 8×3 foot tables clamped together to form a 16 foot by 3 foot long place to work. It takes up a large chunk of my basement and makes it possible to build in some amount of comfort.

 photo the table_zpsice4l7it.png

In the Beginning

Some of my fondest memories from being a small boy was of the summers. My best friend at the time would spend the summers with him mom and brothers aboard their 33 foot Owens Margarita “Gypsy Queen”. This run down old boat was moored semi-permanently in a run down old marina where they really didn’t care what you did. My best friend and I would make off with their Roto-molded “little orange dinghy” and spend our days being a general nuisance. We would row all over the marina, scooping crabs off of the poles for dinner, exploring the marshes, going swimming, and occasionally fishing.. not that we ever caught anything. It was a fun time that still molds who I am to some extent.

As I got older and moved on to High School, I joined the rowing team. Illness kept me from doing much and the team never did win many regattas, but it was great fun and taught me a lot. I still yearn for those days on a needle thin shell, the water rushing by with each pull of the oar, and the general simplicity of a thoroughbred racing machine.

Which leads me to my first building project: Chesapeake Light Craft’s “Expedition Wherry”. This 18 foot long boat is a combination of sea going Kayak and Recreational Shell. With it’s long and tapered bow, you can see the racing shell in it’s lines. The Decked hull with it’s sealed compartments reminds one of the ocean Kayak, while the flat stern and the small open cockpit give it a seaworthy look that invokes speed. This is a fast and stable boat, perfect for dealing with the chop of speedboat and wind driven waves.

A recreational Shell has the disadvantage of being long and narrow with very little freeboard. Take a wave the wrong way and over you go. A really tall and steep wave could even damage the boat. The Kayak, while made for open and rough waters, never uses the full potential of the body’s movement to propel it through the water. It does not help that I prefer rowing over paddling and my ever softening body needs all the exercise it can get.

 photo expidition wherry drawing_zpsbpjmvld7.jpg

I also enjoy building and working with my hands..

Small Craft Advisory

In the beginning there was nothing.. just smooth unwrinkled sheets of plans and unmarred plywood. It was good. Dreams were made, imaginations ran amuck, and thoughts of days plying the soft waters of the South Jersey back bays wafted across all rational thought.

I grew up on the water. My Father was still in the Navy when I was born so many years ago. I think my earliest memories have visions of the sea in them. Unlike my Father, I am more a small boat sailor. I do not need a 40+ foot sailboat to feel safe and have fun on the water. My biggest boat is a mere 22 and a half feet long. It’s not that I dislike big boats, but that I feel more in touch with the living waters of this planet when on a smaller boat.. simply put, I am closer to the water and more subject to it’s whims.

Blog at

Up ↑