My grandparents lived on a river in southern Alabama when I was growing up and my father taught me to row when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old. I did my first solo row in front of my grandparents' wharf at that young age. He also taught me to appreciate the beauty of fine boats: “Son, few women are as beautiful as a well-rigged boat.”
Boats, then, have been in my “blood” for a long time, but I never owned one. I’m reasonably handy in the shop and love to work with wood, so a few years ago I got the crazy idea to try to build a boat! Two years in the making, Argus, as she is christened, is my first foray into boat-building.
I wanted something big enough for a few people to enjoy, with multiple rowing station options, nimble enough to take on lakes and streams, but sturdy enough to take out in Long Island Sound (I live in Connecticut, which has some beautiful coastal areas). I think what I built will suit all that just fine. ARGUS is a 15′ single/tandem pulling boat I built from a Chesapeake Light Craft kit (Chester Yawl). She took about 170 hours of hands-on-boat work (not counting prep time, drying time, and running-to-the-hardware-store time) over three summers/two years. I had a lot of early help from my dad, invaluable support from my wife (who designed the beautiful hand-lettered gold vinyl name on the stern), and occasional coerced help from my children (don’t drop the boat when you flip it!). My 5 year old daughter was a notable exception. She was my almost constant shop companion, and so she and I were the first to row Argus on her maiden voyage this past weekend! She definitely deserved the honor!
With her beautiful fan-shaped “wineglass” stern, and my peculiar love of peacocks, her name, Argus, took a cue from Greek mythology. Argus was a many-eyed giant who was turned into peacock by Hera (hence the many “eyes” on the peacock’s tail). I wanted a “classic” look for the boat, though, so it follows a fully varnished inside with painted outside scheme, and all brass/bronze fittings. The blue and green detailing on her hull and oars took their inspiration from peacock colors, while leather oar-collars add a touch of class and functionality to the oars.
This weekend was just the beginning. I look forward to many years of enjoyment exploring the waterways with Argus in the family!