Simplicity Afloat

 The building of this little boat brought forth many books. One I particularly enjoyed was “The Compleat Cruiser” by L. Francis Herreshoff. In it he notes that “simplicity afloat is the surest guarantee of happiness.” This past week was just that. I took perhaps a dozen solo and accompanied paddles in the new boat. All were anywhere from an hour to three. Perhaps the most memorable trip was one rainy scudded sky afternoon. Gliding through marshes, hearing the drizzle on the water, and the dipping of the paddle was delightful. I wish I had taken some pictures, but alas you really can’t. Yet, the simplicity was there and we were afloat. A wonderful end to that day.

There is certainly pride in having made a thing. Several Greenland paddles and flat bows we’ve made hang prominently from the rafters in our sunroom. There is a certain elegance to these objects with their sweet curves and soft hollows. What is it about them that transcends the thing itself? We’ve a lot of machine manufactured paddles and a couple bows, but none are appreciated or displayed. I treasure this little boat more than any piece of furniture in the house. I’m tempted to hang her somewhere, but not all battles are worth fighting and she doesn’t have that furniture grade finish … but, she is mine. The whole experience has made me appreciate craft on a new level. I sometimes wonder if we as a society have forgotten or even recognize it anymore. And all the conveniences of technology seem to have taken the time supposedly saved with it. Have we also allowed it to rob us of finer, simpler, things in life? The now 7 month journey of this little boat has really changed my perspective of boating.

Early morning hitch hiker.

Fine day.

In the marsh.

I do have a few items to fix/ adjust:

  • add hip pads to the braces so I can learn to roll the boat.
  • weld/epoxy/glue a nut under the hatch to aid in removing the lid. I must say they kept the interior bone dry through rain and a clumsy capsize while exiting the boat.
  • may add some thin minicell under the heels and above the knee areas.
  • secure the seat with velcro to the cockpit floor so I can adjust later, though I think I’ve found the sweet spot. I may lower it by 1/4″ too. Every bit helps.
Otherwise the only scratch she suffered was from the mast of the Moth as I removed the trailer. That’s another rite of passage. It hurt and the bay was too shallow for dagger board sailing. All other scratches will be equal.
So here are 2 video clips of my daughter in an SOF and one of my boys in the new boat.
And last for now: one of my great, great grandfathers was a Danish navy captain who brought his family to America as the age of sail was no doubt dying out. Two ships he commanded are pictured here:

the “Flying Dutchman”

the “Otto”

Perhaps some of that blood lingers in my love of the water? Don’t know, but in searching to learn more about faerings and other danish boats I came upon a verse I recalled reading in high school (not much stuck and I couldn’t have quoted it). I must read the whole again (for real and not for the quiz). What adventure is evoked here.

“Then the keel plunged
and shook in the sea; and they sailed from Denmark.

Right away the mast was rigged with its sea-shawl;
sail-ropes were tightened, timbers drummed
and stiff winds kept the wave-crosser
skimming ahead; as she heaved forward,
her foamy neck was fleet and buoyant,
a lapped prow loping over currents,
until finally the Geats caught sight of coastline
and familiar cliffs. The keel reared up,
wind lifted it home, it hit on the land.

— Beowulf, c. 800 AD

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