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Dreamboats and All-Thumbs Boatyard

By John K. Hanson, Jr.

The puppy is whining at my feet, the Red Sox are losing, and this column is late—sadly only the puppy is new. The good news is that this long winter, in many ways a non-winter as far as good snow and ice conditions were concerned, is finally over. What really got me down this winter, however, was the lack of a fun, new project at “All Thumbs Boatyard.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of work to do on my boats—all maintenance related, must-do projects. The shop itself also is in need of work. I know my muscles will be aching and my back sore all spring as I get that work done.

Of course, I will be thrilled when the boats are back in the water, looking and performing better than when they were hauled. And I will be even more excited to be back on the water myself. But…. I need a new project, something new to build, something of great beauty (at least to my eyes), and something that will perform well on the water whether it is powered by sail, paddle, or an engine. A further requirement is that the boat fill a niche in my armada that has not already been filled. A bonus would be if it were the right size—long and narrow—to fit into my basement.

Candidly, much of the work at “All Thumbs” takes place in my head. It’s fun but mentally taxing. The question “What do I want to build” is not quite as deep as “Who am I,” but flipping through 70 years of mental dreamboats can be difficult. Lately, I’ve been focusing my thought-power on a sailing canoe, “Old Glory,” which was designed by B.B. Crowninshield in 1901 and has been a recurring mental dreamboat for many years. Long and skinny, beautiful, historic, should be fun to sail, family connections. What’s not to like? I’ve got my work cut out for me this spring at “All Thumbs” boatyard, both mental and physical. As my hands sand away at chipped paint, my mind will be far away, dreaming about that canoe and how to build it. At least until the next dreamboat sails my way.

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