Preview: Three Boats I Lust After (and Why), by Peter Neill

January 9, 2012

Peter Neill

To know the boat is to see into and beyond the boat herself. My three examples are real to me as much as metaphors; they stand for things other than lines and construction details, for outcomes beyond craft, and for gratifications from another kind of making.

First, Sairy Gamp, 10.5 pounds, purportedly the lightest wood canoe ever built, designed and constructed by J. Henry Rushton for George Washington Sears, who, in the 1880’s, writing as “Nessmuk,” chronicled various legendary voyages in the Adirondack lakes and elsewhere for the readers of Forest & Stream magazine, the “bible” of the 19th century small craft movement. 

Sairy Gamp canoe

Photograph of the 'Sairy Gamp' canoe

Sairy is the boat for everyman: inexpensive, perfectly portable, enabling access to the smallest tributary, backwater pond, or wilderness lake. Sairy puts the paddler down into Nature -- at the waterline -- where normalperception is distorted, sensibility is heightened, where an altered perspective of wind, wave, water and wild life is reduced to a primal level of immersion. The paddler and canoe are one, the energy transfer feeling as if man and craft are joined, wood and muscle flexing, strengths united, moving harmonically as a single dynamic thing toward a destination. For me,

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