Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Alive!

I've often felt that building a boat is about as close as a craftsman can come to creating a living thing. Building an instrument, a violin say, is another instance where an inanimate object seems to take voice and become a living creature. But boats have movement, their own distinctive motion and reaction to the wind and water. The chuckle of the ocean passing by the hull of a wooden boat is amplified like a fine instrument amplifies the vibrations of bowed strings.

Last week, as I ran my hand along the inside of the hull after sanding it, I felt Ravn's heart beat. It was really the planks under tension amplifying the base beat of the music I was listening to, but it felt like a living thing under my hand. I've thought about it for days and can't get it out of my head.

I was telling this to my neighbor, Tom Dollar, who builds guitars, and he gave me a knowing look. As he ran his hand along the planks of the boat he said, "What you've got here is wood under tention, just like a big guitar."

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