Diesel Duck 382

Diesel Duck 382
Diesel Duck 382 with the "get home" steadying sails up.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

sticks and stones

Now I would indeed be a fool if I began writing and making videos for the internet that I was not prepared to be criticized on.  Boy howdy, and critisim I do get!  That's ok, because I've made a ton of virtual friends as well.  People who have offered support, advice and even cash to help me achieve my dream.  Simply amazing!

However it's funny how humans work.  You can stand in front of a 100 smiling faces and only remember the single frown.  I do my best not to forget the smiles. But, in the spirit of never leaving ignorance, arrogance or just plain rudeness go unchallenged, I recently replied to a particularly insulting comment from someone on Wooden Boat Forum after I asked a question.

I'm going to post it here because while you may be unfamiliar with the specifics that led to this comment, I believe it represents well the spirit of our project.

If you really want to read the forum post you'll find it HERE

However the below, albeit out of context, is what I wrote in responsey.

You know Bob, your a bad human being.  A small, petty, divisive and arrogant human being.

I finished reading your comments last night before bed and I’ll admit, I was mad.  I initially composed a scathing response to your many insulting words in my head.  That’ll show’em! 

But as I’ve come to learn, never say (or write) anything in anger.  As adult men I believe our greatest strength should be to control our emotions.  So I went to bed, next to my wife with the sounds of my kids laughing and talking with a visiting friend (sleep over Friday you know).

So I’ll give you my response with a clear head.  Bob, I feel bad for you.  I truly do, and I’m sincerely sorry the path your life has taken that has made you the way you have become.  I know it’s not what your parents wanted for you and we as a society should feel true empathy for people like you.  We as a society should reach out to those who are so isolated, so bitter, so lonely and welcome them back to humanity.  

Life is good, people are good, try to remember a time when you believed that.

I get it Bob, believe me.  I’ve spent my entire adult life in a uniform of one kind or another.  While I would hate to say I’ve done it all……theres no other way to say it though, I’ve done it all!  I’ve seen humanity at its absolute worst.  Primal, base, savagery inflicted by one human on another.  I’ve also seen the depths of stupidity that could not be believed unless you were to observe it with your own eyes.  People who’s complete lack of common sense or any semblance of situational awareness led to their untimely death or the death of another.

When you work in that world it can easily consume you.  The drugs, the booze, the violence. The constant conflict, anger and rage in your workplace.  Now add to it the fact that you’re working nights, you’re  not sleeping, moneys tight, kids are needy and little and the wife wants a vacation.  It gets hard, real hard, real fast.  

It’s so easy to lose sight of all the good in the world, all the good in people.  You have to work to not to believe that everyone is out to get you.  Some guys just can’t do it, the light grows to dim to see and they remain in darkness.  Lonely, bitter darkness.

It’s not just for the people in a uniform.  Life, circumstances, even being a  wealthy lawyer can dim the light no matter how you make your living.  You can’t see the light Bob, but I assure you it’s there.

I never appreciated the quote that I’ll paraphrase from Mark Twain until I became the old man myself (sorta, I’m on facebook and that’s for old people).  About how the teenager was incredulous at the old man’s ignorance when he left the house and how shocked to see how much the old man had learned in just a few short years when he returned.  

That was me!  Not that specific, as there was no old man I thought a fool, I thought everyone not exactly like me was a fool.

In my 20’s and most of my 30’s there wasn’t a course of action, personal choice or lifestyle that I could not find fault with.  I mean it, I was a master poopooer of all things unfamiliar or different then how I saw the world.  I was the smartest guy in every room.  I fought bigger guys than me, shot guns and drove fast for a living.  Whatever you were doing, you were doing it wrong.  Trust me, just ask, I would set you straight.

But you know Bob, I aint that smart.  I aint that tough and it’s really none of my business what my neighbor does in his yard or bedroom.  I realized how much I still had to learn, how much I missed out on because I already knew everything.  

I hurt people Bob.  I isolated them, demeaned them and took them for granted because I knew it all and needed no one. 

Life always brings things into balance, it is the way of nature.  When you live as I did and as you still do, one day it catches up to you.  Nobody knows when, but it always catches you.

I almost lost it all Bob, everything I loved, everything that was truly important became instantly clear.  I won’t bore you with my all to common story, but my day of reckoning came and I had a choice to make.

So I did.

Live Bob.  Dream, Learn, Do.  

I say it all the time.  Lead people by positive example.  I tell my men and my children continually that I want leaders in the field!  Lead from the front with servant leadership.  Put others before yourself and get the job done. That is not confined to the work place.  Leadership can be anywhere.  Church, the grocery store and even wooden boat building.

Seek common ground and develop peoples interest into passions.  There is enough sun for everyone.  Cheer when people succeed, support them when they fail.  You don’t need to “fix” it, You don’t need to do it for them, you need to make them believe it can be done and they can do it!

This would not be an appropriate wooden boat post if I did not at least do a little shop talk so I’ll drop some knowledge on you.  

While on the one had it’s not fair to single you out Bob,  because there were some others who were nearly as insulting, condescending and rude.  Unfortunately you seized the prize for the most uncalled for behavior.  So as we say in my world, you caught a ballgame.

Despite what you say Bob, there is more than one way to build a boat.  The particular process I’m speaking of, has been done, is being done with hundreds of examples on the sea today.  My question was simply a materials question.  

I got some good responses about off gassing and interior appearance that I had not really thought of.  Excellent points that have led me to believe I’ll just use the white oak that is widely available in my area.  Pretty simple.

That is what I hoped this forum would be like.  A place where people with a common passion came together to solve problems and support one another.  Not a digital playground where the most obnoxious, ignorant, blowhards shout down anyone who dares ask a question.

You were not alone but among a few who spoke from a place of ignorance and assumption.  Some insinuated that I would let this craft become a derelict eye sore when I was done with her. That it will be unrepairable, not sea worthy and quickly dissolve into dust.  One even indicated I was the kind of person that gave wooden boats a bad name! 

Had any of you taken the time to ask a few more questions, or research the design or the project a little more you would know the kind of person I am.  The methodical, logical, responsible person I am and how ridiculous those assumptions were.

Many of you pass your opinions off as fact, with the scary thing being, to the uninitiated, that most of what you say is indeed opinion and just that.

But to Bob and the others; it’s not fact.  It is your opinion.  Which of course you are entitled to, but don’t think the rest of us are fooled by some keyboard tough guys who are better at writing checks than swinging a hammer to achieve their wooden boat dreams.

I tried to show appropriate respect for traditional methods because I truly do admire them, but they are just not for me.  My project is  not about trying to do it “cheap” “fast” or “easy”, it’s about a building concept that make sense to me.  It’s an approach that allows me to get on the water in an acceptable amount of time, money and effort for me.  Just me.  

I don’t know why that would be so offensive to anyone else.

Shockingly, a few hundred million of us do not live on a coast having grown up with triple masted schooners (yeah I don’t know if that’s a thing but it sounded good) in daddy’s slip at your “summer place”.  I thought I made it clear that this was simply a materials question, that I was not running out to do it one way or the other, just a question.

I get it, you may not like this construction method, George Buehler or his designs, but I do.  It also would have been fine for you to simply say, “I don’t like it, I wouldn’t do it”. But Bob, you chose to make it personal and insult me.  To question my intelligence, work ethic and my due regard for the safety of my family.

Who the hell are you?

Obviously my time on the forum has come to an end.  Equally obvious is it will be no great loss to the forum, I took more for the forum then I ever I gave.  I’ll continue my project of course.  I’ll write about, post about and make videos for YouTube because all of it is fun.  It’s fun for me and I hope it’s fun for others and gets them off the couch and out into the shop.  I hope it gets them off the computer, posting in some internet forum over 500 times a year and back into the real world. I hope it shows them the joy of building something with your own hands.  I hope it makes them believe that they can do it.

However, before I go, I’m going to leave this with you Bob, to ponder as you run out the clock on the bay.

The internet is forever.  Years will pass and we’ll both be long forgotten.  However, our words here will remain.  You may not have noticed but wooden boats and wooden boat building is teetering on the abyss between obscurity and a home building resurgence.  Which way it goes, will for the most part, be decided by us old guys.

One approach would be to encourage younger people to pick up a hammer and some coated deck screws and then scrounge around for some ACX plywood and some pallet hardwood.  Encourage them to try, to get started, to take some risks while they can afford to and welcome them to a beautiful hobby of woodworking and boat building.  Maybe that first boat they make is an ugly, hard chined, plywood boat, but it lites a fire in them.  Maybe they start to create demand for more and better materials.  Maybe the demand for boat building schools grows along with a demand for skilled traditional boat builders.  Then the next boat they build, when they have some money and experience in both building and navigating, is your idealize version of what a wooden boat should be.  

That sounds good to me.  A rising tide raises all boats.  The more people in the hobby the better.  Prices fall and access to materials increase.  Our hobby thrives and the traditional skills that we all admire don’t go the way of the dodo bird.

Or Bob we can do it your way.  Shout people down.  Insult them.  Mock them.

Because thats what you, along with a few others did in this thread Bob and here it is for all times.  For some person, potentially interested in the hobby, with maybe a similar question, to see how this forum treats people who dare attempt anything in boat building at anything less than a master craftsman.  Someone who will quickly dismiss the idea of boat building, because there are very few other resources for potential boat builders in Boise, Denver or Branson.  They’ll believe they can’t do it, that it can’t be done.  So will the next and the next and the next until their all gone.

Then you’ll sit on your rotting monument of a hull wondering where all the woods boat builders went.  Now you’ll know Bob, because you help send them there.

So hopefully, if your the new guy reading this thread and you are in fact still here and reading this, I’ll tell you some truth.

You can do it, this is not rocket science or brain surgery.  There are people in isolated corners of the world building ocean boats from pulp wood logs and caulking them with tree sap.  Your plywood, cedar stripped craft with epoxy will be just fine.  It may not be a “boat for the ages” but you can do it and you’ll learn how to do it better next time.  There are great books out there by guys like Pardey, Gerr and Buehler.  Guys who have really done it and are happy to show you the way.  

Don’t let what you have seen here and will see in other posts deter you from building your dream.  Furthermore don’t let the few keyboard commandos on here scare you away from the depth of knowledge contained in many of these pages.  Don’t miss out on the beauty that is created here by some really talented people.  It is inspirational if you can be more resilient than me! 

Finally, Bob, good luck.  Seriously, think about what I’ve said.  I mean this, if you come to NY you are welcome to stop over anytime.  I’m easy to find and you can send me an email and we’ll work out all the details.  We’ve got beautiful part of the world here in upstate NY and you’ll find plenty to do.  

Come out to the shop and take a look around, swing a hammer with me and let me remind you about that light.  It’s not the one out your window brother, It’s in your heart, it’s in there waiting for you to want to see it.  If no one else in your life will, I would be proud to help.  


  1. Yeah, I read that thread, and Bob's a donkey.

    I don't love every design idea that George Beuhler loved, and that's OK. There's ways to constructively disagree, and ways to disagree and ensure that your idea will never be considered.
    Bob's way is the latter. Hidebound and time-tested, sure. He's not wrong in that the old traditional ways work great. There's still some 90-year old heathens in the New England fishing community who think fiberglass hulls are just a fad. Their wooden boats are beautiful, often enough. But so what?
    You're building a proven design that like every boat has to be built around compromises in material design to not cost a mint and still be strong enough to shake off the odd grounding... like every single boat except maybe a heavy icebreaker.

    Keep your head up. You'll still get rotten responses from armchair marine architects. A real one designed your boat. Take comfort in that. It was made to be made with suboptimal materials, which is why the laminate is important. You can find 1,000 year old houses in Europe, made of stone. That doesn't stop us from building wooden houses.

  2. I've read the thread too, and also experienced the rudeness, snobbery and narrow-mindedness of the WBF. They suffer a particularly virulent form of Internet Jackass Syndrome.
    I read portions of your post to my wife, she enjoyed it too. Good luck with your build, maybe I'll see you on the water one of these days. I spend more time using boats than arguing about them.
    -JGS, A Brother In Arms

  3. Scott,
    Haven't read the thread yet but your response shows your outstanding character and humanity in the face of irresponsible criticism. Boatbuilding is a personal endeavor unless you are manufacturing for profit even if there are more than one of you on the build. Stay true to your dream and be assured there are a lot of us out here who are watching with wonder and joy at your progress and will always be willing to offer you what ever moral, technical or financial support you may need.
    Take care and keep up the good work! Matt

  4. Hello from NZ Don't worry about all the posters on wbf.I wouldnt worry about PT timber I would consider using a thicker planking say 40mm which is a 4 by 2 ripped in half and just do one layer of ply .All the ply does is gives you a better surface to dynel and epoxy.Its easier to screw 40 plank to plank than 25mm .The cost of extra ply and exoxy is better spent on a decent outer coating say even biaxial cloth if you are worried about strength The 40mm planking gives you more holding strength with fastners regards Adrian

  5. You are on the path. Humanity can be ugly. Your reply was Just. The need to reply is something we all struggle with. We cannot help to awaken the sleeping.
    Those with drive in pursuit of their happiness often lack the knowledge of what the source of their pain is. The louder people speak...the infusion of profanities and insults into the communication speaks MUCH louder of their pain and lack of faith in their message...

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