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In Search of the Next Project

By John K. Hanson, Jr.

It’s getting dark early these days. Most of my boats are hauled. But it’s still too early for the skis, skates, and iceboats. What is a fella to do?

Why look at boat plans, of course, and read boat books, make a little fire in the wood stove, and imagine what could be. There are so many boat plans out there, old and new, sail, power and paddle. Looking at the lines, reading the designers’ comments, and trying them on for size brings me great joy. These dark days of late fall bring out my dreams of boatbuilding.

Thinking about my next project might just be the most rewarding of all my boat habits. The last new project—building a Moth sailboat with my son—has been tabled until Sam returns home for school vacation. We got so very close to finishing this past summer, but I am not allowed to work on the Moth without him. Fair enough, I can start on something for myself.

But what? I am a very unaccomplished boatbuilder living in a region full of very accomplished boatbuilders. In many ways this is an exercise in humility, as there is so much that I don’t know, and so much that I do so badly. It is an exercise in resilience, as well. When I make mistakes, I smack my forehead and wonder how I could have been so ignorant, but then I get back to work and fix them (sometimes with expert advice).

If I were smart, I would build something small and handy. This is more about the process, after all, than the end result. But the dreaming side of me always has bigger plans. Howard Chappelle, Olin Stephens, Nathaniel Herreshoff and Uffa Fox are my after dinner companions. Perhaps I should just see what they recommend. 

Boats, whether using them, or dreaming of them through the dark days of early winter, keep me sane. The best part is that at this dreaming stage, the yard bills are quite manageable.    


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