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.
I also enjoy building and working with my hands..