Written by Scott Ouderkirk
posted on December 13, 2013 07:39
The life of a wooden boat can be harsh. As they age, these boats are often one problem away from being unceremoniously placed in the backyard or hedgerow to wait until the final reckoning. The life of a wooden boat owner is not easy either. Each year the issues they face cause there to be less of both of them on the water.
In 2004 I purchased a 1964 Luhrs 32 foot Mahogany boat from the former owners of Singer Castle on Dark Island. Strider was past middle age and needed work but I was able to use it throughout that summer. I spent the following spring replacing big and small wooden parts, caulking and painting and renaming it Pen & Ink.
My family enjoyed playing and working on the boat each summer until 2010 when I decided it couldn’t be put into the water again without some more major work. At the same time my wife and I were contemplating moving permanently to the Thousand Islands which meant building a new home and studio on our land in Hammond near Oak Point. In this equation, Pen & Ink was the loser. I attempted to sell it but had no luck.
Not wanting to waste a classic I decided I would take the boat apart and use the materials to create something new. I began by removing all the metal parts and storing or scrapping them.
Next some Amish friends helped me cut the boat apart into manageable pieces. We removed the V8 engine sliding it out the side of the open hull onto an Amish buggy. I’m sure this image made for some interesting conversations. Very little of the boat was burned or taken to the dump; if it wasn’t rotted I found a way to reuse it. The transom and mahogany lapstrake planks were used to create the interior walls of my new studio. The keel became one of the beams overhead. Cabinetry and trim was repurposed and part of the dash along with the wooden steering wheel was mounted on one wall.
Other parts found interesting homes as well. The engine and transmission was sold to a marina in Henderson Harbor and is sitting in a shed waiting to be transplanted. The boat was a single screw but came with a spare prop and bronze shaft. I shortened and machined the shafts with the help of my friend Marty Snye, a local blacksmith, and mated them to the props to create lamps. I created stained glass shades for all of the lamps and decorated each with various Thousand Island images. The porthole that allowed the captain to see gauges in the cabin when piloting from the flybridge is becoming a small stained glass window in my new studio. The transom flag now spends nice weather on the porch roof.
Those of us who get to live and work in this wonderful area are blessed.
Every day as I create and restore glass objects at Scott Ouderkirk Studios, I am able to look outside at the river and see ships as they travel by. Inside, I am surrounded by an environment that is comprised of the parts of Pen & Ink and I am able to fondly remember its’ life here.
Many a sunny summer day spent slowly cruising clear waters, the first time of the season when we were able to dive off the flybridge, a moonlit night spent sleeping soundly with the water lapping against the hull, even scraping and painting on a spring day. The memories make my work, which I love, even better.
By Scott Ouderkirk, Scott Ouderkirk Studios, Hammond, NY.
Scott Ouderkirk is an artist, author and craftsman who has moved moved his studio to the River. Scott is a graduate of SUNY Oswego (BS in Technical/Vocational Ed), Syracuse University (MA in illustration) & University of Hartford (MFA in illustration). His books include The Amish Secret, Fallen Heroes, Sunday Drive, The Adirondack Run, Island Images, Barns and Wood, Waves and Wispy Smoke. In 2010 Scott was a presenter at the American Glass Guild's national conference in Detroit, MI and at the Stained Glass Association of America's national conference in Syracuse, NY in 2011. He was published in Wooden Boat January 2004 and was asked to write and illustrate the feature article for the Antique Boat Museum’s The Gazette Annual 2004.