Preview: Building a Chesapeake Log Canoe by John Cook

Big trees begat the dugouts used by native Americans, and the long and straight pines of the Chesapeake watershed inspired the early settlers from Europe to also form their boats by hollowing out trees. Log bottomed sailing canoes and bugeyes, composed of several hewed and hollowed logs fastened together, followed. But due to scarcity of suitable trees and avancing technology, many years have passed since boats having log bottoms were built. A new log bottom has been recently constructed for Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s bugeye EDNA LOCKWOOD and simultaneously a new 20-foot five-log canoe took shape under the hand of John P. Cook. It’s an unusual and now-forgotten way of building a hull—altogether different from the plank-on-frame, strip-planked, sheet plywood and cold-molding methods that we’ve become used to. But it works, and with ingenuity and respect for old ways of doing things, both CBMM and John Cook have proven it to be viable today. CBMM’s Pete Lesher has described the LOCKWOOD’s construction in an OCH video, and now, here’s John Cook’s story:   

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5 Responses So Far to “Building a Chesapeake Log Canoe by John Cook

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    Michael McEvoy says:

    Great looking job! She looks like a picture out of an old M.V. Brewington book! You have a better back & arms than I and most others. A short stint with an adz and I’ve had enough fun for one day. Your work is not only beautiful, but a testament to your endurance and determination A tip of the old bowler hat to you and your canoe!
    Mike McEvoy

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      John Cook says:

      Thank you so much – It has been a joy to build!. I hope others may give it a try!!–John

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    Steve Jones says:

    They say if it looks right it is right. This looks right. Full marks for using some modern tools and materials because in the ‘good old days’ I’m guessing labour was relatively inexpensive and I’m also guessing a greater percentage of the population had manual skills, whereas today it would be somewhat harder to find people to help the build along. This must have been like a voyage in history for you. The effort is immense and the results are so pleasing. I’m looking forward to seeing that bottle of bubbly hit the stem!

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      John Cook says:

      Little cash but lots of labor. The skills were passed down generation to generation.We launch mid may and I will get some more photos-Thanks so much for your comments and attention!!-john