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I have decided to build a boat.
From roughly 1982 to 1988, my dear friend Chuck Shamel would take me sailing on his 36'(?) Pearson sailboat. I gained some level of confidence but never a lot of expertise. I can remember being terrified as Chuck hung his head over the side in heavy swells while we lurked in the Gulf waiting for the Elissa to appear over the horizon. I can remember dark, damp, cold dawns as we tacked up channels. I can remember surfing down the faces of waves as we watched dolphins nearby. I can remember hearing the clicking of pistol shrimp when the tide pushed us closer to shore on our spring line. There's a particular sound that a halyard makes as the wind smacks it against an aluminum mast. There's a particular sound of near silence as a sailboat traverses the open water.
Well, Chuck has decided to build a medium sized catboat from some plans (Charles Wittholz) and so invited my son and me to help build over Spring Break 2004. That's when I got bit (by the boat building bug).
He had sold the Pearson and had acquired a small day sailer. We sailed it once during this trip, up from Rockport along the Intracoastal into Ingleside (or was it the other way around).
I'd not lost much skill during the years I'd been boatless in Sherman (TX), Wheaton (IL), and northeast Ohio. My son (age seven at the time) even got his hand on the tiller.
It was love with the water at first sight. Again. There's no better way to be on a body of water than in a sailboat. Guildenstern and Masefield both seem to agree. There's just something in me that needs to be back on the water. (I even started writing again.) I wonder if lake Erie will satisfy me or if it will need to be saltwater. I also wonder if the LaDue Reservoir (where I'm likely to spend most of my water time) will suffice. Perhaps it is the endless horizon, giving one's eyes some "elbow" room. Recently (06/09/2004), my family and I went to Gordon Park and East 55th Marina to observe the Venus transit. (Read Jamie's thoughts on it here (as quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Turns out either would be perfect for launching my little CatBoat and are within five miles of my house.
The construction costs associated with this project are expected to be quite low (in comparison with purchasing a new Beetle Cat, for example).
I am building a 1/12th-scale model to help me understand some of the techniques and issues involved in building the full-scale version. As of 06/06/2004, it has frames, side panels, the bottom panel, both bilge panels, the kedge and shoe as well as the deck and gunwales. The next thing to do is the mast and the coaming, then the rudder and the waterline. Photos
True construction on this project won't commence until the China Cupboard is complete.

© 2001-2010 Jeffrey D Gifford