Wooden boats are beautiful. The whole lot of them. Particularly lapstrake. I just love how they look. However much I might appreciate them, it isn’t quite the same thing as understanding them, of course. Each day when I check my email I always keep a wary eye open for those emails. People who are building their own wooden boats and have questions for me. Some I can answer easily enough – what kind of paint, what fasteners, where do we get our lumber or oars or tholepins. Easy questions get easy answers. The tricky ones are, well, trickier.
Today’s was a question about splining. The builder in question needed some explanation as to why his splining was not working for him, and advice on how to make it go the way it was supposed to. That is just so very far beyond me.
Mike, our builder, is wonderful. I love him. Not in a creepy way, in a ‘what a great guy’ way. He’s a hard and honest worker, his work is topnotch, he knows so much about so many things, and he’s almost always up for a laugh. What he isn’t, though, is connected digitally to the world. Unreachable by email or cellphone, the only way to reach him is to either walk down to the work yard and hope to catch him at a convenient moment, or phone him at home at night (which I’m loath to do – nobody wants work pestering them at home!).
These difficult questions do eventually get chatted about with Mike, but sometimes that can be days after someone has asked me for an answer, and that is less than helpful to that person. So I need to try my best to help them out in the meantime. And for that, I have two quick & easy answers that help with most things.
The first is, of course, John Gardner’s The Dory Book. It’s a really helpful book that includes plenty of tips, advice and recommendations for all sorts of dories, not just the Grand Banks ones we build. Pretty much any dory-specific question can be answered by that book. Everyone should have a copy.
The other place I send people is to the online Wooden Boat Forum. Have you heard of it? It’s a great place where boatbuilders, professional and hobbyist alike, meet up in a virtual online world to ask and answer questions, share tips, provide new sources of materials or building plans. If you haven’t heard of it, you should check it out. http://forum.woodenboat.com/ even if you don’t have any specific questions. The information contained within that site is quite remarkable – you might get answers to questions you didn’t even know you have!