A Boatbuilder’s Schmee – Wayne Roberts

November 10, 2011

Co-Founder Steve Stone traveled to New Zealand and helped Wayne Roberts build a boat. The experience was so delightful and the effect so enduring, it was one of the initial sparks of inspiration for OffCenterHarbor.com. When having a boat built, the first step is determining if the "schmee" of a boatbuilder fits with the experience you want to have. We love Wayne Roberts' schmee. But what is "schmee," you ask? Schmee is common term used around Off Center Harbor to describe the essence of something. The thing that's bigger than the sum of its parts. The "gestalt" shall we say. In our "The Schmee of..." series, we'll be visiting with boatbuilders and sailors all around the world to capture the essence of why they do what they do. Their "schmee." Settle on in to that chair in front of the fire and enjoy. It's worth noting the enduring message of Wayne's schmee -- as this was recorded nearly 20 years ago and is even more relevant today than it was then.

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14 Responses So Far to “A Boatbuilder’s Schmee – Wayne Roberts”:

  1. Avatar Suzan Wallace says:

    Thank you! Beautiful, Simple Message encapsulates how I have felt sailing, rowing and paddling a plethora of small boats my entire life. Big boats are great, but “nothing beats the intimacy of a small boat set off for a day’s adventure”.
    Capt. Suz Wallace USSA Instructor, USCG Master Mariner, President of the Traditional Small Craft Association

  2. Avatar GEORGE VELBECK says:

    One must have wisdom to do and enjoy the simple but priceless activities that life throws at us when we become too impressed with our accomplishments. Sailing the Chicago to Mackinac Island race seven years in a row hardly qualifies me to be a member of the “Old Goats” flootila; for it takes 50 races to become a member of that crew of sailors.However, it does reset one’s priorities in life so that you place the simple pleasures of life- and of sailing at the head of each days Log Book entry.
    George C Velbeck Past owner of the vessel, STEELAWAY
    [email protected]

  3. Avatar Brent Williams says:

    Such true statements, it’s being on the water that brings such peace and joy. I would rather cross the ocean with old style navigation any day. #1 having that knowledge will take you anywhere, if you loose that knowledge and you rely on electronics and they go down what are you going to do. Any true weathered seaman can tell you that anything can happen at anytime on the water.
    Really enjoy this group and site. Sail fast and true my friends

  4. Avatar Thomas Buzzi says:

    After kayaks and dingys my first “real sailboat” was a 1974 Montgomery 17. I enjoyed the heck out of it. That was back in 1983. In the ensuing years, I would own a Flicka 20, a Cape Dory 28 and an S2 36′ racer. Now retired in 2020 I own another Montgomery 17. It, once again, supplies the best “bang for the buck” I have experienced in sailing.

  5. Avatar Ian Weedman says:

    Listening to Wayne narrarate invokes the same feelings as the experience which he describes. More please….

  6. Avatar Sandy & Sidney van Zandt says:

    Sidney and I have fond memories of sailing into Opua in the Bay of Islands after a 1200 n/m passage from Fiji in November 1991. We hired Brian Douglass to rebuild our Volvo 11 MD 3.
    We stayed on a mooring at Orin’s Boat Yard,while Brian was working on the engine. I sailed with Brian on his 28 ft sloop in the Wednesday evening races. We usually ate a meal at the Opua Sailing Club after racing. Our mail was handled with care by Colleen at the PO on the dock. George Batman was the Port Captain for the Ocean Cruising Club and was always so helpful. He helped organize a Thanksgiving pot luck celebration at the OSC with about 100 attending….Opua Day was a great festival with sailing races, canoe races with the huge canoe with 114 paddlers . There was also a swimming race for dogs, starting from a barge anchored
    out in the harbor. Orams was building a all Kauri motor-sailer.
    Such wonderful memories.
    Sandy and Sidney Van Zandt Noank Ct

    Sandy and Sidney Van Zandt. Noank Ct

    • Avatar Doug Day says:

      Great words of wisdom. Wayne Roberts reminds me of Buck Smith, the first time I met him. I was fogged in on North Haven before the days of any radar or GPS in my life. I sailed blind over to Green’s Island to “meet that artist” and he emerged down the mossy path barefoot, as we see Wayne leave us, leaning his oars against an alder. Both guys carry themselves with an enviable confidence, esp. when building a boat.

  7. Avatar Neil Henderson says:

    I spent my childhood with my parents and 2 sisters messing around in an 11′ Gull Dinghy – I have never forgotten the sheer joy of sailing her across the loch (Lochcarron) on my own and the fun we had as a family on fishing trips in her. She was a very simple boat but she taught me and my sisters that fun was not something that comes from a complex boat – it’s simplicity that is fun.
    That is why I am now building a fairly straightforward 17′ clinker day boat.

    Hence the issues with the current format of the Americas Cup – not fun!

  8. Avatar Chris Noto says:

    That’s a beautiful piece, Steve. I have been a member here for only a short time, but I’ve circled back to this one. I was moved by its deep and simple rightness even before I saw Wayne’s dates at the end. With my own sixty-seventh birthday coming within four months, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reminding me of the prescious nature of each day.

  9. Avatar Warren Doucette says:

    Looking for a sailing skiff design to build. 15ft flat bottom 5′ 6” beam. Do you have any suggestions

  10. Avatar Kip Otteson says:

    Thanks for posting such a great nugget. I’m just about to start building my Caledonia Yawl with my kids and this video gets at the heart of what I hope to teach my kids concerning simplicity and doing something on our own. It’s refreshing to be around boat enthusiasts that aren’t rich and can’t afford the lifestyle, and don’t want it, that comes with sailing, but enjoy the essence, schmee, of being on the water. This is the type of video that is fairly rant-inducing!

  11. Avatar William Boulden says:

    As I matured and watched my children grow up, now having my oldest out on his own. The memories they hold dearest is the time we spent doing something simple. Like figuring out how to operate our first little sailboat together. Thank you! Great vid.

  12. Avatar Bob Lister says:

    I enjoyed the vidio very much and can’t help but think it is our job to instill these ways of thinking to our youths. They are quickly forgetting that you don’t need electronics and a big motor to enjoy life. While building a skiff at the museum the younger visitors could not grasp the reasoning for a sculling notch as opposed to an outboard cutout.

    • Avatar Steve Stone says:

      Thanks Bob. With our young kids coming into boating age, Eric and I feel lucky to be around these guys who’ve seen the deeper pleasures available through simplicity.

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