I originally believed I would have completed construction of my row boat and embark upon the Missouri River at Three Forks, Montana on June 14th, 2018. However, as of the writing of this update, I'm still in Monroe, Utah, where I arrived almost 5 weeks ago to dive into this project. Overall, construction of the boat is going well, but not according to my original schedule. I estimate it is about 40% complete. As everything sits at the moment, I could be launching later this Summer, or, more likely, in the Spring of 2019.
As with many construction projects, especially first-time, do-it-yourself projects, I’ve discovered there is a lot more to making a boat than I initially appreciated. There are many steps involved and new technical processes that often include wait times. This is especially true in working with epoxy, a key ingredient and process for my boat. This stuff… wow, not your typical glue. You’ve seen art encased in it, shiny bar tops leveled in it and maybe boats held together and waterproofed by it. It’s one of the time-consuming factors I overlooked for lack of prior experience. I often have to wait for the epoxy to cure before taking the next step so not to compromise the strength of the epoxy bond (it takes about 24 hours to cure). Mostly working in small batches, I’ve had to mix epoxy dozens of times and dozens of more of the same are ahead of me. Bottom line, the time seems to evaporate with less done than I hoped for.
I’ve built things like walls, books and other structures, but a row boat is a whole different creature--it has to float and swim and be seaworthy, as my life depends on it. Through this process I’ve found myself wishing I had a mentor standing over my shoulder saying “this should look like that” or “don’t worry about that gap there ‘cause it will be filled later” and much more. For guidance I have you-tubers (who are rarely specific enough) and my holy scripture, my paper plans.
As I work toward the final product of a seaworthy vessel I realize that the amount of tedious work involved is daunting. Initially I was tempted to cut corners, and I even tried at first, but really there’s no corner cutting when it’s in my future self’s best interest to stay safe and dry on the river by taking the time now to do the job right.
In order to keep my promise to my friend Jeremy Burns, I will not launch until I’m fully prepared. In addition to having a sound boat for an epic journey I also would like to have a sound plan for travel, and a detailed plan for documenting my journey, including up-to-snuff recording equipment.
While I’m sometimes challenged or frustrated in the endeavor, it’s been a rich experience so far to study the route, to research and collect gear, and especially to turn a stack of 4x8 sheets of marine grade plywood, lumber and epoxy into something that resembles a boat. Sometimes I feel that even Noah would be proud of my work. Joking aside, thank you to everyone who’s helped/ is helping me sling shot into this! I’m truly grateful for all your support that makes doing this a possibility! As I continue to work toward completing this project, I will keep the updates, the progress and related creative work rolling.
Stay tuned for an upcoming 1st time boat builder’s video log..