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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Building Wooden Boats: Pollard Speaks!

Mike Pollard, the builder of that beautiful little two man canoe shot back an email to me that was so on the money I figured I'd post it whole. If you're thinking about jumping into a wood boat project, you'll want to read this one:

Aloha John,
Much mahalo for the writeup and kind words about the canoe.  Here's some info to share with anyone interested in canoe building - or boatbuilding in general.
Rules and guidelines for boatbuilding:
1) Patience
2) More Patience
3) Plan out every detail of your work.  Visualize every process you do and make sure you understand what the worst case outcome could be and how to prevent it.  Keep a notebook and log everything you learn.
4) More of that patience thing.  I think John said that his boat was in his garage for years and then he started working on it again.  It took me one full year to build the canoe, and the one thing that I would suggest to anyone building a boat/canoe is to make sure you're in the right frame of mind to work on it.  Don't make yourself work on it just because it's an unfinished project.
5) Did I mention patience??
6) Baby steps.  Whenever you work, don't start something that you can't finish in that session, ex. don't glass half the hull one day and the other half next week.
7) Patience bra!
 Photo: So beautiful I had to post it again!
Wooden boat building is a craft that is growing rapidly, particularly in places like the east coast where there's a rich history in it.  I built most of my canoe in Kailua Kona on the island of Hawaii, which used to be a hotbed for canoe building back in the early 1900's, and is in fact where modern 6-man canoe designs stem from.  Outrigger canoes are cool becasue they're fast, can be designed with more stability than most other displacement hulls (all dependent on the ama placement), and can be set up with lots of room for stowing camping and fishing gear, a couple of SUP's, and rigged for sailing.  I'm currently working on my safety ama and sailing rig.  Although my canoe is only a two man, the sailing rig will be set up almost exactly like the 6-man Hawaiian sailing canoes.  Those guys sail from island to island in a matter of hours and sometimes in huge seas.  The Hawaiian island were originally populated by polynesians that sailed here from the southern hemisphere in big double-hulled canoes, similar to Hokulea.
FYI, here's my philosophy on why a lot of men have the desire and "need" to build boats:  it wasn't until the last few hundred years that men started sitting ask desks and working at cush jobs.  Prior to this, men worked hard, hunted, and crafted many of the things that helped them live...with their hands.  It's in our blood.  My friend Jeremy couldn't have said it better when he called the modern age "the feminization of man".  With that, if your wife or girlfriend gives you a hard time about spending too much time in the garage, tell her you don't have a choice - it's in your blood and you have to do it.  I liken it to eating.
So, that's my shpeal on boatbuilding an why every waterman should have an outrigger canoe.  John, thanks again for the write up!  I miss paddling with you and having coffee and sausage tortillas afterward in the parking lot at La Jolla Shores.  I still remember those sessions at Blacks!  Good times bruddah!

Mike Pollard

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