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This is the conclusion of semi-regular updates from A. Henry Archino about the process of building a boat at Old House Depot. Read more about the boat-building group that met here one evening a week.
Starting last October with the plans, the tools and an endless supply of wood, we set out to build a boat using traditional woodworking know-how. Eight months later, we launched our labor of love, a 15-foot decked canoe, aptly named the Crusty Canoe.
The last month leading up to the launch saw a tremendous amount of effort and dedication from the boat building crew. We met nearly every night, sometimes until midnight, putting the final touches on the boat. This included building the deck, painting the hull, hand-fitting the floor boards and even making custom cherry backrests. Though the pace was intense, we found time most days to celebrate the night’s work with coffee and pie at the nearby Waffle House. In fact, we were there so much, the waitresses knew our order, right down to when to switch our coffee from regular to decaf.
We choose LeFleur’s Bluff park to launch and test our boat. The scenic cypress-strewn lakes provided the perfect continuity for our event, from tree to boat. About thirty people, friends and family of the boat builders, showed up to welcome the boat.
As in most boat dedication ceremonies, the christening is done by someone prominent, usually someone important to the community or someone beloved by the boat builders. In this case it was both. We asked Jim to dedicate the boat. He had allowed us to use his shop space, dull his tools, and pick through all his wood, and we wanted to thank him for this wonderful opportunity. Though the heart pine stem could have easily withstood the smash from a champagne bottle, we decided instead to drink the champagne and go with the old custom of pouring a glass of local water over the bow. Once Jim performed this rite, we dropped the bomb on him. This boat was his. We had built it for him.
Though most people were in on this surprise, including Jim’s wife Ann (who helped make the boat possible), you could see that Jim truly was surprised and moved by this development. He took the ceremonial first trip and really put the boat through its paces. As he tested the Crusty Canoe out on the lake, we all looked on with pride. Throughout the rest of the day, everyone had a chance to take the boat out for a spin. It was a perfect way to wrap up this project.
The launching of the boat coincided with my departure from Old House Depot, and Mississippi, too. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the boat building group from helping to create such a wonderful memory. And I especially want to thank Jim, Ann and Anthony for welcoming me two years ago at OHD and making Jackson feel like home for me and my family.