Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paddle Day 58: Frost, Kayaking Women and Boat Building

Frost at dawn
Early on a frosty morn...
Had to chip the ice off the kayak to get the hatch covers to go on, but I was warm enough in my two layers of thin wool under my dry suit.  I was not looking forward to this day's paddle ever since Joey had looked at the route and pointed out the day consisted almost entirely of making three long crossings.  But Mat told me about a canal through Fleets Island that had been dug during the civil war for the Confederates to avoid the Union blockade of the Rappahannock River, and I could use it to stay inside for a short section.

Deb paddling past a duck blind on the Civil War era canal
Good thing it wasn't high water, as I would not have fit under the bridge on that inland route!
Barely enough headroom!
As I crossed the Rappahannock I recalled the wedding of a relative upstream at the small village of Sharps.  The local guys were not happy about a local girl marrying someone from outside the community.  Tales of putting the honeymoon vehicle up on blocks, stuffing fresh fish into the couple's suitcases, and putting fish bait into the heating/cooling system of the car came to mind.

It gradually warmed to 50 degrees, and the sail boats started coming out of Deltaville.  Felt like summer in Maine again!

Ladies International Paddling and Picnic Society (LIPPS)
A great group of women paddlers came out to meet me near Gwynn Island, joined me for a fascinating lunch and escorted me to my hosts, Eric and Annie, at their Rionholdt Once and Future Boats shop/home.  I loved how there was no distinction between boat building shop and their home: living room, kitchen, huge dining table and the boat being built all together in the same space.  In any other boatbuilding shop this would not be possible because of the sawdust and toxic resins, paints, etc.
Eric playing with the dogs
But Eric is building traditional wooden working boats with a fascinating twist.  He is building them out of dust free cellular PVC.  One amazing thing is that this requires just the ordinary wood working tools, and no fiberglass or resins.    Eric says, "Stone age tools, space age material".
Eric demonstrating using a traditional adze to shape a boat stem out of cellular PVC
And, even better, the boats are virtually maintenance free, as the material is not biodegradable.  So rather than having a wooden boat that you have to sink money into, he is making working boats that you can use to make money.  Eric and Annie have an equally fascinating view of using boat building as a way of creating relationships and community.
Cellular PVC Sharpie
By using traditional boat designs, built by eye, rather than from plans, Eric involves the client in making decisions about the curves, etc.  The boats are lively and handle like a wooden boat.

I spent a wonderful evening philosophizing about boatbuilding, culture, humanity and life with Eric, Annie and their new partners Maura and Howell.
Annie, Eric, Maura and Howell

Paddle Day: 58                                                        Date: Nov 68 2014
Start: Indian Creek                                                  End: Gwynn Island
Distance: 17.3 miles                                                Total distance: 783.1 miles
Max speed:  5.1 mph                                                Moving ave.: 3.4 mph
Kayak storage:  Once and Future Boats                     Hosts: Eric and Annie

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