Fannie Salter part 1


the sharpie book

It all started in 2013 when I bought this book at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

22' Cedar Keys Sharpie drawing rev to 23 feet

mostly From Reuel Parker’s Sharpie Book, modified slightly.





first of many trips to the lumber yard



those fresh cut white oak 3 x 10s are heavy


all ‘sticked’ up at home


Hope it is enough…it won’t be


lofting the frames


building the frames


first two done


Meanwhile wifey is starting to sew the cotton sails in the unheated great room. Notice the custom, gravity fed sewing runway.


cotton cotton everywhere


sew, iron,, iron, repeat


the beautiful and talented Elizabeth


a wood floor was a requirement to fasten the strong back down. It also is much more forgiving (warmer) than cement.


frames on the strong back. stem and chine logs installed


transom aligned..sort of.

DSC_0494 (2)

keelson installed, sheer clamps installed


now the planking begins. planking is fastened to the chine log, the sheer clamp, stem and transom.


The local sawmill could only go to 20foot lengths so the planks are scarfed and riveted together.


once the planking is complete oak frames are riveted in to tie the planks together.


now for the cross planked bottom. this method adds strength to the design and less frames are needed.


the after most bottom planks are splined as they are above the water line.


fairing and more sand paper than I care to remember

DSC_0468 small

the hull is now ready for caulking



cotton is rolled into the seams and puttied


skeg and gripe are installed a 3/8″steel shoe will be installed on them for protection, ballast and to hold the rudder.


how do you get the completed 23 foot hull out of the shop? Invite families from church and coworkers to a traditional ‘boat flip’.



It’s kinda like a barn raising


DSC_0134 (2)

Don’t forget to feed them or it might be more like a barn burning.




Little Orphan Part 3

April is still winter in New Hampshire. But there were enough nice days to get me thinking boat work so I laminated a couple hand picked 2x4s for a mast and I am scribing the cut lines to go from 4 to eight sided.

dinghy06apr13 029med

dinghy06apr13 028med dinghy06apr13 023med

then from 8 sided to 16 sided. And then round with an inverted belt sander.

dinghy06apr13 014med

Cold days are also good for working on sails. Modifying a used sail  to fit my proposed Gunter Rig.


small parts that you can bring in and work next to the hearth help keep the project going over the winter. Top is the original rudder used as a pattern and below is the new replacement


DSCN3033med DSCN3035med

no rigging came with the boat so spars are based on research of similar size and design boats.


DSC04444 DSC04443 DSC04442 (2)


Finally warm weather. Riveting oak gunnels and inwales to the sheer.

DSCN3280DSCN3282DSCN3283 dinghy 35DSC04432

Gunnels complete. Oar pads and Transom knee braces installed. Still need to steam bend and install the thwart braces.

dinghy 37JPG

Rigging complete. Now it is time to take her out for a sail.


little orphan part2

dinghy007smallfirst real look at the hull in good lighting. Transom had some rot at the top.

dinghy 011dinghy 006small  Gunnels were gone except the copper rivets. The seats were worn but surprisingly solid.

dinghy 029 First step was to clean the years of algae and pine sap from the hull and see what is left.

dinghy 018 dinghy 009

Not unexpected she would need a new gel-coat. Also would need glass repairs on the transom,  small crack on the port side near the oar lock and remove the drain hole plate. dinghy 012dinghy 015

It appeared she spent much of her previous life hanging from davits.

dinghy 033 small dinghy 034 small

All fiberglass repairs are done and finally a day that was not to sunny and no wind for the gel-coat. This reminded me why I like wooden boats.

DSCN3130medSteaming the oak keel to make the bow curve.DSCN3145meddinghy06apr13 002med

DSCN3273She is up right and ready for the new gunnels but..the shop has no heat so she will have to wait for spring.


little orphan

I was at a small boat yard on the coast of Maine. Really, it was a trailer parking area for a few local lobstermen and a private boat ramp. It had become, as is common, a sort of Island of misfit boats.

I was looking for a small daysailer for my friend Ed and indeed found an old O-Day Widgeon there and was inspecting it when my wife called me over to look at something. My wife had come along not because she was particularly interested in the boats, but because she loves me and love covers a multitude of sins. When I looked up she pointed off into the woods and said “what about that one?” What she was pointing out to me was a small stand of pine trees at the edge of the lot. Nearly hidden among them was the unmistakable shape of a wine-glass transom. My heart jumped. My mind immediately moved from the daysailer I had found for Ed to a potential next project for myself. As we approached, I could see she had been there quite some time. The gunnels were buried in the forest floor and the paint was more of the green/gray color of moss you see on the side of trees for indeed it was moss growing on the hull. Pine bows lay across it and it was so surrounded that the trees must have grown up around her.

dinghy 003small dinghy 001small

At this point the initial excitement was quickly fading. A wooden boat in this situation would probably be at best a total rebuild if there was enough left to use as patterns. The keel was bare oak and badly rotted, but to my surprise, as I brushed away the layers of pine needles I found the hull was molded fiberglass. My interest again was peaked. We were able to lift one side out of the dirt. What once were oak gunnels started to desintergrate leaving only the copper rivets in place. As I stuck my head under the edge, I was again surprized to see oak seats and centerboard cap bare and worn, but they seemed to be solid. The woodwork was above average with accent trim and near invisible fastener plugs. I found the rudder and tiller both made of oak and fastened with copper rivets in good enough condition to use as a pattern. I had decided this was my next project. Hopefully the current owner would agree.

I spoke to my good friend Chris whose family owned the yard. He didn’t know who owned it, but he would look into it for me. It took nearly two weeks to get the whole story straight. She had been salvaged at sea after a storm by a local fisherman over a decade earlier and had been resting in the trailer lot ever since. When I returned to pick up the Widgeon for Ed, I was given the green light to “rescue” the tender from the woods. As she emerged from her pine prison and into the sunlight the hul got scarier as excessive flaking now showed, but her traditional lines also were illuminated and outshined the condition at least for the moment.

The Widgeon was gracious enough to share the flatbed trailer with her for the three hour trip home. I dropped the Widgeon off at Ed’s house and continued home. As the sun was going down, I backed her into the shop. She seemed to be a little straighter, almost a little happier. Welcome to your new home my little orphan. Welcome home.

dinghy 004small

Escape: a double ended dory

frames in place. adding weight to create rocker

frames in place. adding weight to create rocker

stem,stern post and sheer battens attached

stem,stern post and sheer battens attached

planking started

planking started

second plank. lots of copper rivets

second plank. lots of copper rivets

planing complete. Outer stem installed.

planking complete. Outer stem installed.

Thwart rail and thwarts installed. Gunnel cap going on.

Thwart rail and thwarts installed. Gunnel cap going on.

Escape 007

Launch Day!

Escape 008

Cape Porpoise Harbor ME

escape 009

Casco Bay crossing

Escape 010

rowing team leaving Jewell Island Casco Bay crossing day 2



A pirogue is a one person canoe used in the Cajun bayous of Louisiana. They can be paddled like a canoe or as the early dugouts made of cypress they were poled. See for plans. After installing a pine floor in my kitchen I had four or five planks left over and I couldn’t see them just going out to the barn so, with encouragement from my youngest daughter, I fastened up one plank end to the other and with a Spanish windless bent the boards around a 2×6 and fastened the other end. The other three planks made up the bottom. Added a couple thwart beams, bottom cleats and some 1/4″oak molding for a gunnel .

Pirogue build cont.


A box of stainless wood screws and a tube of PL3000 and a can of oops paint from that big box store and it didn’t look half bad.  I took the legs of an old kitchen chair and that worked good for a seat. The boat is stable and is pretty rugged although she is alittle tender when standing up poling.  Next time I would plane the boards down to 1/2″ as I think 3/4″ pine is a little heavy for a twelve foot pirogue.

IMG_1220 IMG_1227

Spar-time image


The Spar-Time Boat Works image was modified from a world War I patriotic poster by Edward Penfield. I picked this graphic to represent Spar-time after spending five days on the Hudson with my eldest of three daughter, who was twelve, and two other guys on what is affectionately called “The Big Row”. Traditional historic work boats rowing ten-ish miles a day for a week in 18th century period clothing, using 18th century cookware and gear. Seeing my daughter “Rowing Hard with No Excuses” I felt the Penfield girl was a good fit. The boat we were rowing was built by a friend and I a couple of years earlier. That first boat project rekindled the embers from years ago helping my dad build his boat.

I decided to start this blog to chronicle my boat projects because when I talk with people and they ask me what I do for fun or what I did last weekend, it doesn’t take long before I see the glassy stare of incomprehension and behind the “oh that’s nice” you can hear “do people still build wooden boats? You don’t really use them in the ocean do you? “. But really it is for the people , like myself who have an interest in building and/or using traditional boats and are looking to glean anything they can from other amateur builders and small craft expeditions. Especially building the confidence to jump in and get there feet wet .

By the way, half way through the Big Row, one of the other boats asked if my daughter could transfer to there boat to set the pace as they were lagging behind.