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Ron Frenette of Canadian Canoes emailed me after he’d seen the Dragonfly rowing shell featured as the Reader Built Boat in our January issue. That led to swapping stories about boatbuilders with a will finding a way when space is an issue. I had a similar experience building a lapstrake decked canoe in the basement of a rental home in Silver Spring, Maryland, when I was working for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Before moving out of the house I filled the notches with aluminum and Bondo and painted the repair to blend in.
You’d think that was a lesson I’d have learned, but when I built my garvey cruiser HESPERIA on top of the pool table in the family room on the ground floor of my Seattle home, I had a similar problem. While I was building the boat several of my daughter’s friends bet I’d never get the boat out.


Rann Haight, as you may recall reading in the December 2015 issue, designed an oversized garage for his home to allow him to build a 26? dory. Ron mentioned that one of his customers “built a 17? Redbird canoe and it would not come out of the basement where it was built.
I had carefully measured the window that I’d intended to use to get the canoe out of the basement and the beam and depth listed in the plans would result in a boat just small enough to slip through. That was in 1989 and when I was in the DC area a few years ago, I drove by and checked the window. My friend Eugene Arima, a well known authority on Arctic kayaks, didn’t have enough room to build a kayak in his walk-up flat in Ottowa, so he built it in the longest space he had: the stairwell. When I finished the canoe I tried to move it out of the basement and soon realized that the outwales were not included in the measurement for the beam.


The window had a steel frame so I took a hacksaw to it and cut two notches for the outwales.
The overhead furnace ductwork was at the same height as the doorframe and I had to remove the sheetrock covering it. The bottom of the boat was up against a corner that projected into the garage, so to get the hatchet I had to crawl through the small triangular space between the floor and the hull’s flared side.
It took a few minutes to get through and after I got the hatchet I had to inch back through the gap to get out.



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