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I wanted to spotlight a blogpost that raises the interesting question that I’ve used in my title.  And I’ll limit my answer to small boats:  it’s about aesthetics.

The sleek launch Suwanee below (31′ loa x 4′ beam!!) (Notice Elizabeth standing waaay back by the stern.)  celebrates a century since launch this year.  Built in Clayton, NY, where it now resides at the Antique Boat Museum, Suwanee carries a four-cylinder Volvo engine.  Could this design possess the same beauty if it were built of anything but wood?  Frogma might think it a large kayak sporting a Volvo.


More wood:  Chasseur, tender on Pride of Baltimore II, shows its intrinsic beauty, especially here juxtaposed with the versatile inflatable piled inside.


Next exhibit:  Grayling lives a new life (built in 1915 in Boothbay 64′ loa x 12′ beam) after a career as a Downeast seiner and sardine carrier.  I may have seen her pre-conversion 20+ years ago in Massachusetts.

aaawdgr1Below, also in the museum up in Clayton is an Algonquin birch bark canoe built along the St. Lawrence in the 1890s.  If I could spend a few months learning to build one of these, ah, …contentment.  In 1975 John McPhee wrote a good book on a traditional canoe builder in New Hampshire/Maine.


I’ve owned a wooden boat and enjoyed every minute working on the wood, but I admit  eventually, my coins were all spent and my friends thought me a fraud for never leaving the dock, and someone paid me to take possession.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.  If you see a stunning wooden boat, send me a foto.  From me, more wood later.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.


March 2009
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