By Bob Booth - Warwick, Rhode Island - USA

And Other Observations from the 17th Annual Wooden Boat Show


Tacking the Dog

Sunday morning, in the quiet before the crowds, sunrise a couple hours past and last night’s cooling mist giving way to sun.  Already it is warm, sticky—promising rare confirmation to the weatherman’s prediction: 85 degrees and 96-100% humidity.  Now though it is reasonably comfortable still and I sip my coffee while seated in the shade next to BROUHAHA awaiting the onrush; an onrush I would be late for, being lost in conversation with Uncle Billy (Bill Rickman of American Rope and Tar) and several other traditionalist albeit amateur boat builders about pine tar, turps, bees wax and other good smelling and practical things at the time the throngs arrived.  Yet, that was sometime off.

Now, as I sipped my coffee and looked over the set of sail, it had been windy during the night and my sail, though brailed, had worked some at the halyard, I caught the movement of dog and owner slanting across the central green of Mystic Seaport’s quaint historic village.  The dog was medium sized, dark colored and curly headed.  Portuguese seadog thought I.  The dog tended away to port and a bit forward of its owner, painter slack, dog and owner approaching the mid channel tent post, a heavy metal peg helping to support the Exhibit “A” tent which marked the junction of the tent channel, the Boat Building on the Green channel and the I Built It Myself shoal consisting of 20-25 owner built boats participating in Wood Boat magazine’s remarkable brainchild, the interactive I Built It Myself exhibit.   It was obvious that the owner’s intention was to put the helm up and shoot the channel between tent and boat building exhibit.  It was equally obvious that the dog was intent on examining the shoal, wherein might be found jetsam, and was therefore falling off to port.  “STARBORD” stated the commodore (for obviously this was a small squadron), whereupon dog immediately tacked and fell in beside the flagship in time to round up and enter the channel.


Captain Cordelia

Riding easily in a light breeze on the grassy tree lawn lay Captain Cordelia’s command.  This beautiful 60” dark blue rowing craft with sparkling bright work designed and built by Wil, her father, a professional cabinet maker, for the six year old, had just returned from a far voyage, a treasure salvage operation, yesterday, and now lay at rest outboard BROUHAHA.  Not so yesterday.  Yesterday had seen Captain Cordelia (no Elizabeth Swan this, for I heard no mention of krakens nor Sparrows—no this was the embodiment of Captain Nancy, the formidable Nancy of AMAZON), ship’s boy and focs’al hand (her brother Gideon--one and the same as Roger of SWALLOW) and one crew embark upon a hazardous salvage voyage which took them through the I Built It Myself shoal to the far reaches of Picnic-table Bay wherein diving operations were conducted.  Foul weather and seas proved no deterrent; the little ship had rocked mightily—ship’s boy fully erect in the bows moving from side to side under the commands of Cordelia who commanded not only ship and crew, but weather and sea alike, fore at her command the boy was seated and the sea calmed.  Never before had a tree lawn exhibited such behavior and I doubt none would ever again!

Brouhaha and Cordelia's Command
IBIM Shoals & Picnic - Table Bay



A favorite topic of adults in my age group seems to be the lack of gumption, work ethic, understanding and motivation in the current crop of teens and twenty-somethings.  It is a general observation of business owners of my acquaintance, as well as restaurant goers and store customers.  I have to admit, I have often shared this opinion, but no more; the weight of worry about the future has lifted, I have been changed. 

Sunday afternoon, in the heat of the afternoon, in the midst of the crowd around BROUHAHA a face appeared.  A young face, a boy’s face, a twelve-year oldish face. It was a face that wished to speak, to be acknowledged; some little anxiousness showed yet the face did not speak.  Its owner, well mannered, did not wish to interrupt.  As one party of seekers moved on I asked if I could help him.  A question said he, he had a question.

I had been answering questions for three days but my reason for being there was to talk about home building, boats in general, my boat in particular.  I nodded and the question came.  I was surprised; this was not the type of question I had expected.  Then I noticed he had already picked up and read the source sheet I was handing out: three boats worked through, four plus years of research into traditional sources—all my worldly knowledge on the subject. 

The question was, to the effect, was I the designer and if so was the plan available?  ‘No, Steve Redmond was, but the plans were available through him’, while I pointed out Steve’s contact information on the sheet.  Next question, “How much were materials” (not how much does it cost—MATERIALS!) and “labor hours”?  This was no ordinary 12 year old!

More people arrived, they too had questions, but they were adults and this just a child, clearly they felt their questions higher priority fore they showed none of the manners and forced in questions without regard.  I asked the youth to excuse me, which he did while reassuming his inquisitive look.  I listened to the adult questions, but watched him in my peripheral vision, looking, seriously looking.  Eventually the adults moved on yet he remained.  The conversation was again taken up: he and his father were building a 12’ boat, a new hobby for him as it was believed by his parental units that he may have a few too many crashed radio controlled aircraft.  ‘Aircraft’, wing theory thought I as I moved behind the sail to demonstrate airfoil shapes.  He knew already, though Mr. Bernoulli was not yet familiar to him, he understood lift and foil design.  We moved into construction — technical aspects.  I was enjoying myself, the most intelligent conversation all weekend.  His mother arrived; obviously concerned he was bothering me.  No I assured her, most enjoyable, very smart kid.  Still they left.

Sunday evening, in the heat of the evening, in the midst of the crowd around BROUHAHA a face appeared.  A young face, a boy’s face, a twelve-year oldish face.  This time he was not alone, he had brought his father to see, to look, and to ask.  ‘Brought your Buddy’ says I, to the boy, but the father misunderstood for he too was an adult, the parent, and assumed I was addressing him.  It was OK, both the boy and I understood.

The boy eased over and mentioned, while his father looked at BROUHAHA, that he was now mowing yards to save up for flying lessons.  Flying lessons, physics, airfoil theory, cost and labor analysis, boat construction...a 12 year old!  The weight lifted, there was hope in his generation, hope too that this nation might yet find light and guidance there.

Block Island 19: Carl Kaufman



Last year at Wooden Boat show time I had a boat abuilding.  This year it would be done come show time.  Sometime in April my friend Nim Marsh forwarded me a press release from Wooden Boat magazine announcing the formation of an I Built It Myself exhibit—conceived with the idea of having home builders bring their boats and talk with prospective builders about the process.  I contacted Kate Holden at Wooden Boat and got accepted.  I was now an exhibiter.

My friend Nim attends boat shows often for Points East magazine of which he is editor, “boat shows”, he says, “can be draining” and after all was said and done I was exhausted but also elated.  Thousands of people attended, hundreds stopped by to chat about BROUHAHA, and eighty were interested enough to pick up copies of my compiled list of sources for traditional supplies. 

The craft in the exhibit were varied--stitch and glue kit kayaks, a 60” rowing boat, an 8’ powerboat, a 19’ owner designed and built day sailor.  Some well researched boats to historical models—a sailing canoe (Oughtred’s MacGregor), Merrimac Beach Skiff (modification of South Jersey Beach Skiff from Chapelle), Kingston Lobster Boat (lines from Mystic Seaport Collection), my own skiff with cotton sail finished to 1800’s models.  Then come the high tech racing boats with bendy masts and Kevlar sails. 

In the early morning hours each day before the show opened, we traditional/historical sail oriented IBIM exhibitors chatted over coffees.  From our perspective it was working, people were interested; people were asking serous questions and probing ideas. 

What follows are examples of the home built boats exhibited.  I have to apologize up front; I have much to learn about the exhibitor side of things and time got away from me.  I had hoped to compile and provide builder credits along with the pictures but didn’t have an opportunity and while I have requested the list from Wooden Boat magazine, it is not yet available at this writing.

Kingston Lobster Boat: Nathan Rome

Oughtred/MacGregor:  Andrew Kitchen

Little Power Boat: Unknown

Merrimac Beach Skiff:  Steve Dwyer


Kit Canoe: Unknown

Arch Davis design?

Art Craft….Merrimac Skiff

Kingston Lobster Boat


Captain Cordelia, Gideon.  Boat: Wil Zogbaum


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