This blog originates on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana. It proposes to share the things that happen on and by the river as the seasons progress. As the river changes from quiet, warm, slow flow to rises of eighteen feet or more, there are changes in the lives of the birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that use the river. And the mood of the river changes with the seasons. I propose to note and comment on these things.

My Photo
Location: Butte La Rose, Louisiana, United States

I transitioned a few years ago from a career as a water-pollution control biologist. I want to do this blog to stay in touch with a world outside my everyday surroundings, whatever they may be. I like open-minded company and the discussion of ideas. Photo by Brad Moon.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Bateau Building II

Yep, day two on the apprenticeship boatbuilding project. Today was another good day. Edward and his sons Kevin and Larry worked on the boat and Justin joined us later in the afternoon after being run off of Timbalier Bay. He pilots a 30-foot crew boat and ten-foot waves were more than he could handle out there. In fact, that south wind was so strong today that the water rose in Bayou Teche, where we were, about two feet. It rose in the Atchafalaya at Butte La Rose about one foot due to the wind. That’s a lot of water to back up in a major river.

Anyway, we started on the boat where we stopped last Saturday. At that point we had finished the gunnels, bulkheads and the timbers behind the bulkheads. Today we started by using the three sets of jigs (above) to “bring in” the gunnels at the front of the boat. Both bottom and top strain had to be used on each jig to shape the curve of the bow to the way Edward wanted it look. This is not easy. I have always been intrigued by the fact that there is nothing simple about boatbuilding, mainly because almost nothing is square or straight, and that holds true for shaping the bow of this boat. But they did it. After that, the head block was the next feature to be built. That too was not simple. After quite a bit of time spent measuring, planing, beveling and almost cussing, the head block was nailed and glued in place. It was time to place the front four timbers in and then we moved to the stern board. Even that is not as simple as it might look. The main thing I noticed about these guys is that they HATE to have any space left when two things are supposed to be joined tightly. Note the picture of the timber joined to the gunnel; ALL the joints are like that. The last picture below shows how far along the boat is. The next step next Saturday is to place the ribs on the timbers in the front of the boat and start on the stripping that will finish the top on the sides and the deck. We also have to put the final shape on the head block and the stern board before the boat can be turned over to fit the bottom on it.

Big rain here tonight, don’t know how much yet. But the frogs sure know we got some. They are yelling like crazy in the ponds in the front yard – mostly Gulf Coast Toads and Gray Treefrogs, with a few Green Treefrogs mixed in. It’s good to hear them. Looks like a good night for a survey tomorrow night.

The river is at 7.7 on the Butte La Rose gauge, reflecting the stong south wind, and it will go to about 8.0 by Tuesday, and then start to fall slowly. The Mississippi and Ohio are rising a little bit way up north but nothing dramatic.

Rise and Shine, Jim


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