Merwin: Want a Boat? Build Your Own

Speaking of winter projects, have you ever considered building your own boat? I thought about that for a long time, researching boat plans on the Internet and measuring my basement door to see if what I might build would fit through it.

My wife was terrified, wondering if some huge project would linger for years unfinished. Then I got lucky and found the home-made skiff shown here. The guy who made it in his garage soon decided he wanted a bigger boat. So I was able to buy this boat very inexpensively (partly because the resale value of owner-built boats is typically very low).

Build a Boat

Build a Boat

Build a Boat yourself.Field & Stream Online Editors

I've used this particular 16-foot skiff very happily in fresh- and saltwater for several years now. With a Honda 50 four-stroke, it'll do 32 miles an hour wide-open while cruising easily at 20-plus all day long. The high bow and lots of freeboard have gotten me safely through rough water more than once and create a nicely curved sheer line that gets lots of compliments at various boat ramps.

The boat, as with most homemades, is just marine plywood and fiberglass. Plywood is cut to a pattern, bent and clamped over some simple molds, then wire-stitched and epoxy-glued along the seams. Then the wire stitching and molds are removed, and you're left with a more-or-less instant hull. The particular model I have is called a Glen-L Console Skiff. You can learn more about boat-building and various boat plans at Glen-L's website.

Boat-building is a lot of work. Make no mistake about that. But I'm still very tempted. A drift boat, maybe, or perhaps a small rowing skiff that would fit in the back of my pickup to be used in fishing smaller ponds. It just seems like such a cool thing to do....