View Full Version : Louisiana Boat Project

Roger Stouff
03-10-2003, 11:01 AM
THIBODAUX, La. (AP) Rib by rib, an old-style wooden boat is being hammered and glued together to take tourists up and down Bayou Lafourche from the national park here.
Scheduled to be completed in May, the boat will carry about 20 tourists and a park ranger.
``We are working with the locals to get interesting stories along the bayou,'' said Angel Rathle, site supervisor for the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. ``We want to tell about the Civil War, plantation life, sugar cane, E.D. White, other notable people and the environment.''
She got the idea of making bayou boat tours a permanent attraction when more than 150 people signed up for three such tours last May Day.
With the Center for Traditional Louisiana Boatbuilding at Nicholls State University, she got a grant from Thibodaux's Lorio foundation to pay for building a traditional wooden boat.
For the past two weeks, master boat builder Dana Asa Wright has worked on the boat. The style is called ``bateau'' French for ``boat''.
Though it's being built to a traditional pattern, the bateau will have a modern four-stroke outboard motor and incorporate contemporary adhesives, fasteners and finishes.
``Even with the new additions, it still retains the integrity of the original look,'' said Wright, who works to restore and resurrect Louisiana's wooden boat-building traditions. ``I anticipate that it will be a stronger craft and longer lasting.''
The hull and decks will be painted wood, with a clear, sun-resistant finish over parts made from Spanish cedar and from sinker cypress old, dense logs salvaged from the bottoms of bayous, rivers or lakes and Spanish cedar.
Wright created his own maritime museum and school in New Orleans, where he restores broken, decaying examples of Louisiana's boatbuilding heyday. He also has also taught boat-building classes at the Nicholls center.
He works on the flatboat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, as well as the first and third Sunday of each month. Volunteers are welcome.
``We definitely need people who can use a paintbrush,'' he said.
Wright said the boat will last much longer than the typical 20 years of a bateau-style boat, since the National Park Service will keep it indoors when it's not being used.
``The design and look of the boat will reflect original traditions of the Louisiana craft,'' Wright said. ``There is a tie between preserving the craft and extending the knowledge of its history and dynamics.''
The first bayou tours will go from the park to Madewood Plantation, where participants will get a three-course meal and a tour of the house.
People have already shown interest in the tour, to cost $26 a person.
Rathle eventually wants shorter tours, as well, with a two-hour round trip.
``Our goal is that people learn to understand the value of the bayou,'' she said. ``Through this boat, we think we can accomplish that.''
On the Net:
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve: http://www.nps.gov/jela/index.htm

Wild Dingo
03-10-2003, 11:40 AM
Hey Roger they didnt get your dads name wrong on that site did they??

Last month, Wright received a $4,100 grant from the Louisiana State Arts Council to restore an old Lafitte skiff -- built by the late legendary boat builder Emile Dufrene from Bayou Barataria -- for the Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.and...

Emile Dufrene originated the semi-V hull skiff from the original flat bottomed and narrow skiffs.Just wondered??? Sounds like a good thing happening :cool:

03-10-2003, 11:41 AM
Good stuff, Stouff. (I couldn't resist! :D ) I hope the project gets lots of support and becomes another resounding success in applying old boat forms to new useages.

Roger Stouff
03-10-2003, 12:04 PM
Nope. Mr. Dufrene was one of the surviving few traditional Louisiana boat builders. He lived about 75 miles from here, closer to New Orleans. Dad's work really wasn't traditional, he put his own "style" on his boats.

Michael, the Center at Nicholls University does some great work on keeping the legacy alive. It's a good thing.