View Full Version : Am I building a wooden boat?

Glenn Ashmore
09-17-2000, 09:41 PM
I had a visit from a hard core wooden boat aficionado today that disturbed me. He informed me that my strip composite boat would not qualify for "wooden boat" restricted events like races and exibitions. He claims that because glass is used in the structure, I don't qualify as a wooden boat.

Is this correct? Where can I find the rules for qualifying for these events?

Don Danenberg
09-17-2000, 10:35 PM
In homage to the 'great Cleek', et all; I should think that replacing wood fibers with glass fibers in the hard plastic realm of 'fiberglass', does NOT a wooden boat make. There is always, and incontrovertibly; "Sea-kindly" motion to consider, or NOT. Don

Roger Cumming
09-17-2000, 10:46 PM
Glenn, I don't think you should concern yourself with such questions of authenticity. If "strip composite" construction makes major use of wood, common sense would dictate that the boat is made of wood. Wooden boat builders are an independent breed, using whatever technique makes sense. To many, practicality is more important than purity. The Gougeon brothers in Michigan, who have pioneered wood-epoxy boatbuilding techniques, including strip planking using epoxy,would be shocked to learn from your friend that they are not really wooden boat builders. My own traditionally-constructed carvel planked hand-spliced gaff rigged yawl has "fiberglass" decks, meaning plywood decks covered with a man-made resinous petrochemical product (I hope the Chemist approves of my lexicography). Even the plywood came out of a factory. It's full of synthetic ropes, dacron sails, and epoxy glue. But no one has ever suggested that there is anything fake about her. And until there are woodenboat police, I would not pay any attention to this sort of thing.

Tom Lathrop
09-18-2000, 07:48 AM
Hi Glenn,

I see you found the WB Forum. Welcome. As you can see, there are a couple of groups having differing views on the question you asked. Don't let it bother you. Even it doesn't seem so at first, the forumites get along and tolerate each other pretty well. Some of the traditional folk involk the spirit of their patron saint "Cleek" who lurked here, pouncing on revisionists who strayed from prescribed patterns of behavior.

You will find many here who don't have tar and hemp on their vessels and still know that they build and love wooden boats. Having read and enjoyed your posts on that other forum, I know that you are well prepared to sail in these waters.

I have never been to a "wooden boat show" that did not accept composite wood construction unless it was plainly labeled as a "classic" show or something equally clear to exclude us radicals.

Keith Wilson
09-18-2000, 08:39 AM
It's a wooden boat. For confirmation, try to sell it to someone who has always sailed fiberglass Clorox bottles and thinks anything wood rots instantly. Pay no attention to the purists.

Jack C
09-18-2000, 09:02 AM
I, the master of all things wooden, do hereby proclaim the great longships of our chosen ancestors, the Vikings, as NOT authentic wooden boats. As we all know, the only authorized materials to use on a truly wooden boat is linseed oil and varnish. It has recently come to light in secret runic documents that a substance other than those authorized was used along the seams and keelsons to prevent leaking (see my earlier proclamation dated Oct 3, 1067 re: All wooden boats must leak--leaking is deamed most Holy). Upon further investigation, the source of this substance, considered to be a miracle by many, can be attributed to 2 brothers: Erik and Thor Gougeonson. Whether they are the ancestors of the current promoters of vile substances has not been proven, but it is clear that they were the progeny of Loki and will incur the Wrath of Odin at Ragnarok.

I have spoken.

09-18-2000, 09:12 AM
Hey, Glen. I donno about racing rules but the agruement about what's a wooden boat has always puzzled me. All (okay, maybe not dugout canoes) boats made mostly of wood are coated with something, most likely "a man-made resinous petrochemical product." CPES and Kirbys is okay on a wooden boat but WEST or System Three is not? So a wood frame house is not if it has vinyl siding?

Who makes the racing rules your "friend" was talking about?

Where is John Fox? It's be great if you and he could hang out here some.



Glenn Ashmore
09-18-2000, 10:18 AM
Now that John is on his own, he is working on projects from South Africa to England and has less time to spend on the net.

Most of the high performance boats John does the engeneering on are carbonated frozen snot. I believe mine was the first strip/composite project so he had to do all the engeneering from scratch. I must have converted him though because he is in the middle of writing an article for Professional Boat Builder about strip composite construction.

My visitor was West coast classic boat collector/restorer who was over this side on business. He was duly impressed with the project but insisted that it was not a wooden boat despite the fact that more than 80% of the hull weight is white cedar.

Art Read
09-18-2000, 10:38 AM
Don't worry, Glenn... Perhaps your next visitor will be a spotted owl who will chastise you vigoursly for contributing to global deforestation with that "nasty wooden boat" of yours! ;-}

Ed Harrow
09-18-2000, 11:27 AM
Glenn, perhaps a quote may be appropriate, "I do regret the tedious minutes I with [him] have spent." Enjoy your boat! http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

09-18-2000, 01:22 PM
And the question remains still, "Where can I find the rules for qualifying for these events?"

Shoot, I'd race you Glen but I fear you'll not only launch before I do but your 20' will be no match for your 40.


09-18-2000, 02:19 PM
If you're building a boat you probably don't much care what others think, so....

09-18-2000, 02:24 PM
Glenn, anyone who has used epoxy on a boat in any form has no room to speak. Enjoy building your boat and tune-out the negative BS.


Dave 'doc' Fleming
09-18-2000, 03:26 PM
Glenn, I have read and corresponded with you over in rec.boats.building and am aware of all the effort you are putting into your vessel.
I am a left coast wooden boat/traditionalist, who served his apprenticeship in some of the last old time yards between San Francisco and Seattle and IMOP, don't loose any sleep over that persons opinion. It is *** your boat***, ***your dream*** and you are happy with it.
Why worry when some person spouts off with the purist line. Just Enjoy.
Or so says I.
dave, who bypassed Petrochemical Boatbuilding and went to Aluminum when he saw the decline in his chosen avocational material, sigh.
www.pipeline.com/~djf3rd (http://www.pipeline.com/~djf3rd)
Tales of a Boat Builder Apprentice

Cedar Hill Boatworks
09-18-2000, 04:10 PM
Are there more woodchips than fiberglass scraps on your shop floor? If the answer is yes then its a wooden boat. Have at it.

Wayne Jeffers
09-18-2000, 06:26 PM
I agree with Cedar Hill's woodchips count approach.

In support, I would offer John Gardner, no small authority on traditional craft. See Chapter 6 of "The Dory Book" for his thoughts on the "new materials."

Actually, he makes judicious use of plywood, various fibers, and epoxy in his descriptions of building many of the boats in his books. Of course, he generally doen't slather 'glass and epoxy over everything.

He has an interesting description of Ashcroft construction in the appendix to "Building Classic Small Craft, Vol 1." What Ashcroft lacked in the early 20th century, says Gardner, was a waterproof glue. Adapting waterproof glue (epoxy) which became available in the '40's, and laying the second diagonal layer of wood planking at 90 degrees to the first, Gardner describes cold molding, although he finishes it with sanding and painting, not 'glass and epoxy coating.

In Chapter 6 of "More Building Classic Small Craft," he gives plans for cold molding a 13-foot canoe to lines of an 1883 English model. That's one I may build someday. Very pretty lines.

While I respect the traditionalists, and in many ways I too love the old methods best, our common ground is much more than our differences.


[This message has been edited by Wayne Jeffers (edited 09-18-2000).]

09-18-2000, 08:02 PM
....I guess the only true "wooden boat" would be a dugout?

Todd Schliemann
09-18-2000, 09:12 PM
To answer your question, generally if you want to race your boat it should be a wooden boat designed before 1955. Sometimes the date will change upwards to the sixties, or they use a cutoff of thirty years old. The "design" is the key phrase here, as in wooden boats designed to be built of wood, a very inclusive, nonjudgemental term. Keep in mind that at the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta (sponsored and hosted by our own venerable WoodenBoat) and most Northeast Classic Woodenboat Regattas, boats like the older but new VORTEX, and those W Class boats race and win, and are not being thrown out on technicalities. Don't sweat the small stuff. Race for fun, build for satisfaction.

09-18-2000, 09:48 PM
Perhaps some of the purists will one day force all entrants in a wooden boat show to pass their boats through a metal detector, and disqualify all those "whoopee" boats with metal fastenings. Wot - not put together with wooden dowels?



Phil Young
09-19-2000, 07:09 PM
Some would say that if your boat has a motor then it cannot be sailed. They would be just as silly as those who say that your boat is not made of wood if it is also made of other materials. If such people have nothing better to do, then it is better to have nothing to do with them.

09-19-2000, 09:08 PM
Does it make anyone else wonder, that this seems important? Of course it's a wooden boat Glen.

Are you the fellow I e-mailed a few months back, off the ASA forum, suggesting this would be a place to come for solace and advice on a large project? If so, post your url so we can see what you're up to.

If you get bogged down, let it be something technical or personal, but not something absurd. The few races you might be kept out of, get a place as crew if ya want.

Build it, and enjoy.

07-02-2004, 01:41 PM
Ws this ever resolved? ;)

Tom Lathrop
07-02-2004, 01:49 PM
Sure, it was resolved in the favor of both camps, depending on which one you ask.

Paul H
07-02-2004, 03:09 PM
Some people just like to be snobbish about boats. It seems these folks like to spend their time talking about boats, or working on boats, but not that much time actually using them.

If you're building a boat, it is for you, or your family. Be happy, build it, and get it on the water. There is nothing that snob can take away from your satisfaction of having completed a boat and putting it on the water.

I'd venture to say the biggest snobs don't/can't even build their own boats. Their pot shots are a way of inflating their pathetic ego's and making up for their shortcomings and inabilities. If someone turns you away from a gathering because of your boats construction, you don't want to hang out with those sorts of people anyhow. Life is too short to deal with that kind of crap.

It is only recently that wooden boats have been made for the sake of being wooden boats. Through all the rest of history boats were made out of wood simply because it was the only suitable material available to boat makers.

I'd much rather spend a few months to a year putting together a boat, of whatever materials make the boat I want, and then spending many years injoying it's use. The alternative is spending years finding the "proper" materials, and further years using the "proper" techniques assembling the boat. I'd miss out of several years of use.

Wild Wassa
07-02-2004, 05:20 PM
Originally posted by Paul H:
"Some people just like to be snobbish about boats."

If the boats I restore don't look like a new fibre glass version ... well next coat they will.

Most of the boats I've restored end up as plastic boats, to which I will now say, don't be scared of plastic. For a restorer it's a fine reality. I know what wooden boats are like around here, they're of an absolutely terrible quality, from when they were first made. At least plastic boats are straight.

One thing that I notice about the wooden boats that I've worked on, is there is a port side quality and a starb'd side quality, this is the biggest crime. Which side of the boat did you start first?

One of the original questions is, "Am I building a wooden boat." Well am I giving back to the owners, their wooden boat? I don't pretend, if she's got plastic on her.


ps, Adjust the rules to suit your boat, go in only those wooden boat events where the boat is not measured or scrutinised. Buy the way it's more fun beating a fibre glass or a new epoxy glass composite boat, in an old wooden boat, rather than just picking on simple wooden boats.

[ 07-02-2004, 07:18 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]

Nicholas Carey
07-02-2004, 05:28 PM
Then Antigua Yacht Club (http://www.antiguaclassics.com/) has right right attitude for Classic Week (http://www.antiguaclassics.com/04docs/04whatis.htm):
What Is A Classic?

Most of us in the yachting scene know a genuine Classic when we see one. She was built years ago when all yachts were things of beauty and grace with fine lines and acres of canvas. The survivors of that golden era are unmistakably classic.

But what about other classics? We've all seen fine examples of the craftsmanship of yesteryear carried on in modern vessels like Braveheart, Wild Horses, White Wings, Alejandra, Windrose, Victoria of Strathearn, and Savanna. All have the fine lines of a classic but are built and rigged using modern techniques and materials. We also must include as classics the wonderful traditional workboats of the past that are now sailing the seas as yachts.

To be eligible for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, all entries should have a full keel, be of moderate to heavy displacement, built of wood or steel, and be of traditional rig and appearance. Old craft restored using modern materials such as epoxy or glass sheathing, or new craft built along the lines of an old design, are acceptable. Vessels built of ferro-cement may be accepted if they have a gaff or traditional schooner rig. Fibreglass yachts must have a long keel with a keel-hung rudder and be a descendant of a wooden hull design. Yachts not fitting into the above categories may apply in writing with documents, photographs or drawings to support their request for entry in the Spirit of Tradition Class. All entries unknown to the regatta committee must be accompanied by underwater and rig photographs or drawings, and are subject to approval by the Committee, whose decision is final.Shape apparently carries quite a bit of weight.

[ 07-02-2004, 06:30 PM: Message edited by: Nicholas Carey ]

07-02-2004, 06:14 PM
Well, mine is plywood, which upsets some purists ... TOO BAD!

Took a guy out a couple of years back, and he started bitching about modern building techniques ... I guess he forgot he was on a plywood motoryacht ...

He, I here, eventually found his own way back from the island ... yea, I left him.

Anyway, some are purists, just as in automobiles ... Looked at a beautifly 57 Chevy hardtop the other day ... no dice with me, as it didn't have the 283 powerpack ... at had a bored out 350 ... to me, that is no longer of interest.

To each his own ... you boat is WOOD!

Good luck to you.

Where the hell has Cleek been for the past couple of years anyway?


07-02-2004, 07:16 PM
A definition of classic that I often see,
is being old and for sale ;)

Tom Hunter
07-03-2004, 10:37 AM
If you took all the wood out would you still have a boat?

If the answer is no then its a wooden boat

Wild Wassa
07-04-2004, 01:42 AM
Originally posted by Tom Hunter:
If you took all the wood out would you still have a boat?

In another 30 or so years, if I didn't stop the rot this time (on my current restoration), scrutineers will be lucky to find a matchstick if wood on her after her next restoration. Replacing the bad bits, with epoxy glass laminates still gives me a wooden boat. Epoxy is basically a waste product from the pulp industry so that sounds like a wood product to me.

When she feels or sounds like a FG boat, that will be her death knell. She is already looking like an FG. Her death sentence might be handed down on the day of her relaunch (in a few months time), this will be interesting. I won't be forgiving.


[ 07-04-2004, 03:32 AM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]

07-04-2004, 07:11 AM
I think you're on to something with the idea of the sound, Wild. I was roughing up a layer of epoxy on a 190 pound displacement plywood yawl yesterday in preperation for painting it, when the similarity to a "sound board" hit me (actually, I had to put in my ear plugs).

The boat has a small cabin with an open port hole on either side that I've temporarily removed the plexiglass from. The amplification of the sanding vibration coming out of the the porthole was astounding. Now, a RO sander is not a pretty sound, but the craft was definitely producing harmonic resonances. Think of intoning OM in a shower stall. You hit the right note, and the room fills with sound, same principal.

As for needing a large displacement, I guess 190 pounds (well, she's only 13 feet long)of displacement would disqualify The Sweety, but she's made out of wood, which is plainly visible (too bad the previous owner didn't know it):


Wild Wassa
07-05-2004, 10:33 PM
WindHawk, I first started sailing in a FG dinghy (a Flying Fifteen) as the crew, for a Skipper who explained absolutely nothing to a young sailor, he had no skills either. So to entertain myself then, I started listening to the rigging, the sails and the wind, and flipping the jib when told, and helping to balance the boat when shouted at ... that was about the level.

Three years ago, I had my first race in a wooden dinghy, ... the sound described every thing that I needed to do to the dinghy, to win. I already had the tactics.

I'm fortunate to be able to race the Seafly Class in both FG and Coachwood (marine ply) thanks to my local Sea Scouts, so I have made lots of comparisons between the dinghies in the last few years. The harmonics of the Coachwood Seafly, tell me when I'm powering up, what angles and balance and sail trim that I need, and also when I'm getting it wrong, ... like starting to overpower the boat or just lose power. When I race in the FG Seafly, all I hear is a slap of water going, flat ... flat ... flat ... flat ... flat, and it just drags on. I then have to work twice as hard to keep the boat on the money. I still have the tactics.


[ 07-05-2004, 11:55 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]

07-06-2004, 08:51 AM
The more I think about it, Warren, the more I think this is a valid criteria. I used to play the guitar quite a bit, and the only fibreglass one I've ever seen was an Ovation (and it's just the back). I didn't like the sound of them, but many very good players love 'em.

I don't have enough experience with glass to make any pronoucments, but the glass boats I've been on have been rather muted in passing water noise through (although, the power boat guys use that as a selling point).

I put four coats of epoxy on my boat yesterday, and that didn't change the sound characteristics at all. I guess I'll be sailing in the "Spirit of Tradition" classes... :cool: