Dave Reed stands next to the 17-foot Penobscot sailboat he recently built.

Boat builder longs for Shuswap excursion

Five years in the making, Dave Reed’s 17-foot Penobscot sailboat is ready to set sail, or at least take out for a row.

Five years in the making, Dave Reed’s 17-foot Penobscot sailboat is ready to set sail, or at least take out for a row.

Reed says he’s had a lifelong interest in boats and began making them when he was 14. The Penobscot is his latest, and he says the most labour-intensive he has ever constructed.

“This one has been a long haul, it’s taken me about five years to make it,” said Reed. “It’s quite a complicated boat – certainly the most complicated one I’ve ever made.”

The boat, explains Reed, is a lapstrake build, where the wooden hull planks overlap.

“I think there’s seven planks on each side, each one has to be fitted for length, for curve and then, as they overlap each other, there’s a lip about an inch wide that has to be planed to make a tight fit with the plank next to it,” said Reed, adding he’s yet to make the mast for the rig – something he may get to next year.

“It’s a complicated process to make them to,” said Reed.

Without sails, Reed’s Penobscot is still perfectly functional as a rowboat, and he says he’s just waiting for a nice day, weather-wise, to get the boat on the lake for a row.

“It has provisions for two sets of oars, where typically one person can row from either seat to keep the boat level depending on the load,” Reed explained. “But also… you could have one person on each of the four oars. So two people on the same bench rowing side-by-side.”

Reed’s passion for boats extends to rowing, having been part of a rowing team as well as having rowed 27-foot whalers in the navy. His vision for his latest boat, and the Shuswap, is to see a return to rowing as a non-competitive recreation, through which people can spend time together, explore and receive a good workout in the process.

“This is a boat where you can go from A to B and take all your camping gear and stay overnight,” said Reed. “One of my fantasies is to row around Shuswap Lake sometime and camp each night as I’m going along the way…

“That’s what I’d like to revive. People go on kayak trips and canoe trips, but they don’t typically do it much anymore with a rowboat. And actually, rowing is a far more efficient way of propelling yourself. I’ve had several kayaks, and am probably going to make another one this winter, but rowing, you get your arms and your legs and your back into it, and you’ve got far more power and you can go far more distance carrying a far bigger load than you can with other means.”

A clinical social worker by profession, Reed says he does all his construction projects, be it boats, houses or crokinole boards, in his spare time. While he knows of other hobby boat builders in B.C., Reed says most tend to focus on building “kayaks and canoes and things like that.” While pleased with his latest achievement, Reed suspects his next project will likely be less involved than the Penobscot.

“I’ve got to make sure I don’t build one as complicated again,” said Reed. “It’s just a heck of a lot of work in it.”


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