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, June 10, 2006

Bateau Building VI

Yep, day six. Planing and looking, and planing and looking, and then keep doing it some more. Edward told me a while ago that it would take at least a couple of days to plane the underside of the boat in preparation for putting the bottom on it. And it has taken two days, but we are ready for the bottom, probably next Saturday.

I keep watching this boat gradually fall to the ground in little pieces cut off of it here, and there, and long curls of planed ribbons of cypress scatter over the ground. It gets smaller each time we meet to work on it and its shape keeps changing. But like Edward says, and Larry too, it sure is getting pretty.

I also keep thinking that I haven’t expressed clearly enough how important it is for all parts of the boat that will touch the bottom to be absolutely flat and level. Being clearer is beyond me apparently, but I can’t think of how to describe it any better. Maybe the pictures included here will help explain it if my words fail to do it well enough. The tools for this stage are shown here: the planes, the straightedge and a sharp chisel.

The day began where we left off last week: move the four-foot aluminum straight edge (a level in this case) along the ribs, gunnels, timbers, stern board and headblock until all of these are flat and level enough to satisfy the master craftsman – that would be Edward Couvillier. We did manage to get to that point today. And, after this was done, the notches could be cut into the timbers. The purpose of these is to allow water to flow toward the back of the boat so that it can be collected and bailed out, or the plug in the stern board can be pulled out while the boat is running and the water can be drained that way. Without these notches the water would stay within each compartment between the timbers and be harder to remove. To cut the notches Edward marked them with a pencil and then cut the notches out with a sharp chisel, the sharper the better. A diamond sharpening stone works well, as it the picture. The chisels were so sharp that you didn’t even need a hammer to drive them into the wood. Larry cut his finger on one and they are his chisels and he knows how to handle them. Even so, he cut himself.

A couple of the pictures show the various parts that are finished and ready for the bottom.

It’s funny, every project attracts kibitzers and this one is no different. It’s like a magnet for people. People just come and hang out by the boat, or lean on it and talk or smoke or just watch the work. I believe these people derive something from identifying with this boat, whether the visit is short or longer than short. One thing though, when I turn on the video camera they usually scatter like I had done something really scary. Odd.

That’s the end of another really good day. Next time we may be able to fit the bottom on. I hope so. Lena Mae made a meatball spaghetti and red beans and rice and potato salad for dinner. Talk about good!

The river is at 4.4 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, and it will stay about there for the next five or so days. This is the earliest I have seen water this low in quite a few years. The Mississippi and Ohio are both falling so our levels will continue to fall unless some rain finds its way into the far northern watersheds. Of note: Carolyn and I rearranged the dock and raft at the river today. I do that every year during the low water cycle. The result is that the dock is further out in the river if it sits on the outside of the raft, instead of end-to-end with it like it is in high water. And that lets my shrimp traps fish in deeper water and they catch better that way. So.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger Fitz said...

Hi Jim,

Love the boat! I am interested in building this type of boat as a year long senior project. Our schoo, The Fenn Schoo in Concord MA, is right on the banksof the Concord River. I was wondering if there are plans we could purchase for building this style of bateau? We have built a number of small plywood dory's, but this looks like a more involved project that will present a more engaging and historically-based experience.

Thanks for any help or suggestions.

June 01, 2016 5:14 PM  
Blogger Fitz said...

Please excuse my typos:) I am an English teacher, after all!

June 01, 2016 5:15 PM  

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