Family Boat Build at the Toledo Community Boathouse
Day 1, Monday, Dec 26, 2011

This was it - months of planing and prep came down to the next five days. This was either going to work wonderfully, be a total disaster, or land somewhere in between.

We had the Boathouse cleaned and prepped. The strongbacks had been placed on the sawhorses with care, all in the hope that boats would be built there. It was right now - at this instant - that we figured 15' was just about as long of boats as we could build four boats at one time.

One of the families was the Shoemakes, consisting of (right to left) the leader, Sasha (headband,) her 13-year-old daughter, Keyonna (cap,) father Bud (background,) friend Tyler, 10 year-old son Shaa, and 5 year-old daughter, Sequoia.

Once we had most of the participants (one family was running late,) we launched into introduction of what we'd be doing and some of the things we'd be doing it with. Here you see me explaining the finer points of the Grip-Rite screws we'd be using.

The first step is to attach the gunwales to the frames. Here you see the Corcoram family, lead by father Jared (right,) his father, John (orange sweater,) wife Sonja (blue sweater,) 11 year-old son, Jordan, and 14 year-old daughter, Jasper, figuring out the nuances. Not pictured is sister, Janie.

After the gunnels, we begin lashing the stringers on. Cathy (blue) and Gene (head down) Forsythe had just come down to observe and assist, but we had a last minute cancellation, and rather than just let a boat go fallow, we put them to work with Boathouse regulars Curt Werner and Aaron Johnson.

Lashing can be a little confusing. You start with a Stopper knot, then an Eskimo knot, do some wrapping, pull tight, do a bunch of half-hitches, then a bunch of Surgeon's knots, toss in a Granny knot, and finish with a final Surgeon's. I think little Sequoia. got lost about the fourth half hitch.

Our final family showed up, so a lot of us pitched in to get them up to speed. The Sacco family, led by 15 year-old Andrew (baseball hat) consists of his friends, 16 year old Christian (right, bare-headed,) and 15 year -old Richard (hoodie) and is backed up by father, Mark (beard) and mother, Debbie (not pictured.)

One of the really neat things was watching team members teach each other how to do the different processes. Here Jordan is showing his mom how to tie a stopper knot while his sister rapidly makes another tie.

Why do Skin-on-Frames? Because even Sequoia. can get into the act. Here she is, hauling hard on a lashing.


At one point, we had a group of visitors show up, so the Boathouse was PACKED with people.

After the the gunnels and stringers were lashed to the frames, we needed to trim them to their preliminary length. Nothing fills my heart with such joy as watching an 11 year-old figure out how to use a pull saw.

Having the prototype hanging from the rafters paid off in spades - an easy and constant reference point. As we neared the end of our 3rd hour, all of the boats had the gunnels screwed to and stringers lashed to the frames, as well as trimmed to preliminary length.

Group photo at the end of the day. Participants were:

  • The Shoemake team: Sasha, Tyler, Keyonna (13,) Shaa (10,) Sequoia. (5,) and Bud
  • The Corcorans: Jared, Sonja, Jasper (14,) Jordan(11,) John and Janie
  • The Sacco team: Andrew (15,) Richard (15,) Christian (16,) Mark and Debbie.
  • And the Ad Hoc team: Gene and Cathy Forsythe, Curt, and Aaron
  • Staff: Andrew