Builder Stories: Nomad 17 by Ty Bailey
Early in the winter of 2021, we asked builders how the pandemic had affected their plans and projects. Ty Bailey submitted this detailed and thoughtful piece on building his Nomad 17 in response. Many thanks to Ty, and everyone who sent us their stories!
This past fall, I built a cedar strip canoe for the first time (Nomad 17') using the Canoecraft book and the Bear Mountain video workshop series on Youtube as my guides. This was a project that I had always hoped to complete but I had to shelve the idea for many years as I was busy raising young children and building my cottage in Haliburton.
Using trees from my cottage property, I milled white cedar for the hull and black cherry for the trim. I used my portable chainsaw mill, equipped with a ripping chain, to mill the 18' slabs of wood in August. I then hauled it out of the woods and the river valley by ATV and brought it back home to Port Hope to stack and sticker for a few weeks before embarking on the dusty job of jointing, planing, ripping and routing the wood to make the strips in the driveway. By the time September had rolled around, I was steam bending the stems and off to work on planking the hull in my woodshop using the stapleless method I learned in the book.
After the first few strips were in place, the process became somewhat addictive as I began to see the shape of the hull take form. I would add a few strips before work in the morning, come home at lunch and add a few more and then keep working away each evening. I am a very experienced woodworker and often get completely absorbed in a specific project and the canoe build was no different. However, I found given the current situation with Covid-19 and the uncertain times we are all faced with, this project in particular allowed me to focus on something exciting and positive and as such, it has really helped me to stay highly motivated and energized.
By the end of October I had faired and epoxied the exterior and interior of the hull with the help of my wife and it was very rewarding at this point to get a true sense of what the final product would look like. As November approached and the temperatures began to dip, I made sure to get any remaining outside jobs completed such as ripping the cherry gunwales, routing the scuppers and sanding the epoxy in preparation for the varnishing.
During the home stretch of the project in December, I installed the gunwales and decks and created the yoke and then finally, I built and caned the seats - which I was able to do sitting by the woodstove in the house. On New Year's Eve, with the final coat of spar varnish dried, I installed the brass stem bands and I was able to proudly move the finished boat outside on the cradles for the official 'reveal'.
Of all the projects I have completed in the past, this takes the cake in terms of the genuine appreciation I have gained with regards to the process and the amount of work involved. For three months I heard my three kids often say, " Dad, the only thing you watch on TV is about canoe building nowadays!" I cannot wait to get this boat in the water next spring! As a Christmas gift, my wife bought me the Kayakcraft book and I am now looking forward to my next project. Your resources, products and customer service was instrumental in allowing me to complete this project. Thank you!