by Guest Columnist Malcolm Crawford

Frozen Snot or Whatever You Choose to Call It:

OK, time to get my oar in the water.

Fiberglass, GRP, frozen snot or whatever you choose to call it is fantastic stuff for boat construction. If your idea of real fun is to spend half of the spring in sanding, painting, varnishing, rebuilding and replacing rotten wood, then go ahead, enjoy yourself. My beloved Crawford Dory is fiberglass and I love every bit of it.

When I was looking for a boat, Roger Crawford found a bare, unfinished hull he had built & sold some ten years prior that was never finished out. It had filled with rainwater, near to the sheerline as shown by the water marks inside the hull. In our climate it had endured rain, snow, ice, heat, fresh water, neglect for TEN YEARS! I challenge any wooden boat to stand up to that without major problems.

Eventually someone bailed it out and flipped it bottom side up. It then sat there long enough that a young tree was growing up through the motor well. When I bought it, we cut out the tree, flopped it on a trailer and took it home and washed it. I took it back to Roger, he did some minor repair work on chipped edges and installed a centerboard trunk.

I took it home and built the wooden parts myself and have been sailing it since then every where from Long Island Sound to Penobscot Bay to Lake Champlain. I have traveled along the Maine Island Trail. I have spent as many as four days aboard with out setting foot on land. It has bottomed out at low tides on mud, sand and rock. I use it to flyfish for Stripers in the mouth of the Merrimack in Newburyport MA, notable for its rough water. I have sailed through the fleets of Tall Ships in Boston and New London and piped the Marines Hymn alongside the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) in Marblehead harbor. I have taken my young grandsons out in it. It gets a lot of use. It turns heads where ever I launch it. It never leaks. It never rots.

I have added more frozen snot under the forefoot where it became worn from being beached so many times. I painted it once (outside) and maybe next year I will paint the inside where the gel coat shows a lot of wear. I touch up the varnish, taking half a day, once a year and maybe next year I will strip some and redo. Maybe.

I have a beautiful, strong, robust, seaworthy, useful boat without eternal fuss. On the Openboat list, someone once warned against tightening ratchet straps too tightly on Wayfarers for fear of collapsing the hull. Hell, I tighten the straps until they sing and the Dory offers no complaint. Roger calls his Dories 'bulletproof' and he may near be right.

Wood is lovely. Wood is beautiful. Wood is art. Fiberglass is for getting out there and actually doing it.

Calm Seas & A Prosperous Voyage