Wooden it make sense?

Andy Adams

June 25, 2024

You may have noticed the story in Boating Industry Canada News Week Digest last week talking about the $10,000,000 USD grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program to clean up abandoned boats from America’s waterways. It seems that anyone can apply for this and in my work, I have seen many abandoned boats around American city harbours. The problem is that fiberglass just never really goes away.

Last week I learned that the Wheeler family is back building boats starting with their Wheeler 38 Playmate and progressing to their Wheeler 55 Playmate model from 1931. It looks to me that they are building in cold-moulded wood construction. Have a look – https://wheeleryachts.com/wheeler-55/ . Wood is a centuries-old, proven boat building material. Wooden boats can be beautiful and strong yet they can be recycled at the end of their life.

Using sustainably grown lumber, computerized design, CNC cutters and other advanced techniques, I believe that we could build excellent wooden boats at commercially realistic prices. I think our industry should move now to evaluate returning to wood before some politician suddenly bans fiberglass for environmental reasons.

But wait! There’s more. I had a home-made wooden seaflea as a young person and it truly helped shape my life. I had a 9.8 Mercury motor and it was a thrill to drive. I was very excited last week to see Mercury’s announcement for their new 8 and 9.9 horsepower EFI portable outboards. I would have loved to have one for my seaflea!

Consider that our industry is always on the hunt for young people. Can you imagine young people putting down their smart phones to build a father and son wooden seaflea project? An experience like that could set a young person on a solid track to be a boating enthusiast and maybe a motivated marine tech.

Seafleas are not just a Popular Mechanics dream from the 1950s either! On July 20th 2024 you can attend Fleafest at Rockhaven Inn on Kashe Lake in Muskoka. All the details are here: https://www.muskokaseaflea.ca/homesplash/?page_id=883. And there’s still more! You can get seaflea plans to build your own from Fleafest or from their website. Let’s get back to the 1950’s and some family fun!

Andy Adams – Editor

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