Canadian Woodworking

Basement Boatbuilding – Part 3

Author: Don Wilkinson
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: February March 2016
basement boatbuilding
basement boatbuilding

For those of you who have a short attention span, or are just joining the ranks of the enlightened by purchasing this magazine, in this issue I am making yet another feeble attempt to conclude the saga of my basement boatyard (back issues are available at the gift shop on your way out or can be mailed to your home in a plain brown wrapper).


You may recall that I had success­fully(?) removed most of the walls, some of the wiring, part of the plumbing and all of the goodwill, peace and harmony, such as it was, of the family home. Now I was as ready to begin construction of my treasured kayak as I ever would be. All I needed to complete my dream was to choose what model to build and, some­what less importantly, figure out just how I was going to build it.

Part of the problem – okay, all of the problem – was that this was my wife’s dream, not mine. Kayaks are dan­gerous, just watch any adventure video and you see those stupid little boats tip­ping over right, left, and center. And if by some miracle they happen to stay upright, they are constantly falling over waterfalls or getting sucked under the rapids. Who needs that crap? I have enough trouble staying alive just getting out of bed in the morning.

Eventually, however, I (my wife) found the kayak that I (my wife) wanted to build. Admittedly, this little boat looked pretty sleek and possibly even somewhat sea-worthy, and not one photo in the brochure showed a waterfall or set of rapids anywhere. The fact that the boat was shown sitting on the display room floor of the manufacturer somehow slipped my notice as Kelly ripped the bro­chure from my hands. Clearly, this had to be the boat specifically designed for me; at least, according to Kelly and what she claims the brochure said.

So, having concluded that I was destined to build a kayak, I happily (?) placed my order for the bits and pieces they referred to as “a complete kayak kit” and made arrangements to pick it up after discovering that shipping it from Portland, Maine was going to cost twice as much as the boat itself. I won’t go into detail of how that episode went, suffice to say that the border control people are still wondering what that blue streak with the large brown box on top was. (Note to border control: It was my wife’s minivan, she was driving and I was sound asleep in the back with no idea she was going to drive through your flowerbed behind your tollbooth in order to get back into the country. And without paying the taxes, duties or admission fees, I might add.)

Safely home the next day, Kelly happily headed off to work while I trudged downstairs to see just what trou­ble I (my wife) had got into. I certainly had no intention of unpacking every­thing, or building the frame to construct the kayak on just yet. Or reading the con­struction manual from back to front. And I was definitely not going to dryfit the hull pieces together or drill the thousand little holes or sew it all together (that’s wom­en’s work). Nor was I going to sew the sides together (still women’s work) that turned the myriad bits and pieces into the completed hull of my kayak. But that’s exactly what happened. Somehow.

Golly, but building a kayak was such a grand idea of mine. I still wonder why I never thought of doing so before.

To say that Kelly was somewhat surprised to see the completed hull of the boat when she got home is a wee bit of an understatement. But really, the woman had been married to me for most of the past 30 years or so and should have known me better by now, right?

By the end of the following day I had drilled several thousand more holes into the pieces that, if I had read the direc­tions correctly (stop laughing), should have made up the kayak deck. According to the instructions (you’re still giggling), it should have taken me at least two weeks of evenings and weekends to reach this point in the construction. It was clear that either: (A) I was really, really good at kayak building and should consider get­ting into the business, or (B) Americans are really bad at following directions, or (C) I had done something wrong.

I choose to go with a healthy dose of (A) followed by a smat­tering of (B). And I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

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