That Reoccurring Question: How do you build a boat?

The FAQuestion

One of those most frequently asked question is “How do you build that?”


“I mean… not how do you build a boat but how do you know how to go along to build a boat?” “How did you know how to build this boat?” “How do you go from nothing and get to that?”

I think… I stare at the boat (or the picture I’m showing). Of shit… that’s a boat in my yard!
And suddenly there is so much going through my head. I see that first beam we laid that is now the shoe of our keel. I see those pieces we had numerically control cut, which became ribs. I see welding, fitting, grinding… long days with not much to show… some other days with sudden progress. Then I hear our usual “looks good but won’t it look awesome when….”, as we work forward already thinking of the next step.

I appreciate the question, I really do. Every time it has forced me to look back and appreciate. The truth is, if I don’t consciously look at it, I dont really see it like you do. It has become part of my landscape, just like the trees surrounding my yard. The trees have grown but I don’t really see that.
You force me to look back at this structure with your eyes, the eyes of someone who sees the boat in its entirety, as it is today.
OMG… that’s a boat in my yard!

Strangely, I suddenly feel overwhelmed… You’re right… “How did I build a boat?” That’s a big ass boat in my yard! I build that?
I still feel overwhelmed but pride follows. Every time I am asked I realize again as if it was the first time, that I did build this… I did…

The Answer

I’m staring at it and I still haven’t answered, I’m somewhere between disbelief and pride. There is a big boat in my yard!

To answer I need to get back to my day to day reality.
Many days of small boring accomplishments.

Each day, when I go out there, I don’t build a boat. I assemble a frame. I template and I cut a plate. I weld some seams and I grind some welds. Over and over again, days, weeks of it. I place some tabs, I drill some holes. I make a rudder. I sandblast, I paint. I install an engine. I position an ice box, I shape a piece of wood and I glue it to an other.

Off course, along the way, I face some challenges, I face unknowns, there are questions to be answered; but each challenge is faced one by one; one after the other.

Each day, I’m not building a boat. I’m building parts of a boat. Never I wonder how do I build a boat (…ok, I did once at the very beginning and my head nearly blew up), but each day we are thinking through, discussing, researching the one next small step.

Every step is a little project of its own and each project interconnects an other. We may need to look ahead a few steps, take in consideration multiple choices but this brings a natural flow to the work and progress.

So there’s the answer: We did not build a boat. we built all the parts of a boat. we worked through all the small and bigger steps of building a boat. And now, we have a boat in our yard.

The one piece that mattered the most was the first, the one step that lead to the rest of the work was the first step. From there, it is a succession of smaller projects. We had to want it and we had to start it.

We all have a boat in our backyard

Like me, you might need someone to point it out for you to see it in its entirety but it’s there. Step by step, we all build something. It may not have the shape or the size of a boat but it’s there. Step by step, we all build knowledge, we build experience, we build relationships…

This boat is that, its the knowledge, experience and relationships I’ve built and keep building.

That other ongoing question

To say the truth, the question I actually get the most is “When will it be done” and for the response to that you can go back to a post I wrote a while away

One Comment

  1. We’ve lived in our home nearly 42 years and there’s hardly a square inch of it that I haven’t painted, repaired, remodeled, or improved. I really enjoy taking that in. In much fewer years you more or less have conceived (designed), birthed, grown and raised a beautiful vessel that will care for you in your seafaring time. It’s not something you can get from paying someone to build it for you.

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