“Just before I turn off the workshop lights for the night, I look back at my work. There she is, my darling wooden boat. I must have another look.
"This always happens. I walk back toward the boat, it almost looks as if it is moving. The light bounces off the varnished wood, as if to mimic windswept water. As I gaze along the sweeping sheer-line, I am transported.
"The traditional watercraft stands still in time, unchanged, unimproved upon. Built of wood, copper, and bronze—robust and ancient building materials. The techniques and tools used are proven, and have been passed down—master to apprentice—in time-honored tradition. Many of the tools I use daily are remarkably similar to those used by the last several hundred years of craftsmen—perhaps that is why they feel so natural.
"Wooden ships carried the Phoenicians around the classical world, and with them the ancestor of our modern alphabet. Magellan sailed a wooden ship around the world long before the invention of fiberglass or sheet aluminum. The original human inhabitants of all of the Pacific islands almost certainly arrived on wooden boats powered by wind. The globe may be mapped now, and the people of other lands just a phone call away, but boats can still take you places. This isn't a chair: it's a vehicle.
"The concentrated effort of the builder to disassemble a tree, and reassemble it into a vessel, capable of handling anything with which nature can hit it isn't to be taken lightly. Many wise people before us handed down this set of instructions through many ages, not so they could be studied as relics, but so they could be used. And I am proud to be a student of that tradition.
"When I'm building a wooden boat in the traditional fashion, I feel like I am continuing a story that has been told by every person who has ever stared into the deep dark ocean, and thought: somehow I will cross that great expanse.
"As I shut the door, I get one last glimpse of the silhouetted boat and think about how I can't wait to return to the past again tomorrow."