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Monday, April 28, 2014

Nice Nicaragua Dugout and a Few North American Canoes

Yesterday I received training in first aid and CPR at Three Rivers Whitewater in The Forks, Maine. (The town is named for the confluence of the Kennebec and Dead rivers.) This whitewater raft trip outfitter runs The Boatman's Bar & Grill, the interior of which is decorated with several interesting boats, prime among them a 20th century dugout canoe from Nicaragua.

The boats are displayed on walls and ceiling. I've rotated the photos for the most logical view of the boats, but the context may appear confusing for that reason. 

Nicaragua dugout canoe
We'll begin with three full-length photos of the dugout. We're looking at the bow here. The sides of the boat are thin -- about 1" thick. The ends only appear to be thick and heavy, and what we're seeing here is actually an overhang beyond the buoyant section of the hull.
Nicaragua dugout canoe
View from the stern. The hull is carved from the trunk of a conifer that is known in Nicaragua as a spruce, but it is a far harder wood than northern spruces.
Nicaragua dugout canoe
I estimate overall length at 16', and maximum beam around 14".
Nicaragua dugout canoe bow
The bow shows substantial overhang. The hull bottom is somewhat flattened, but the sections are quite round overall. With its narrow beam, this must be a rather tippy boat. And given its extreme length:beam ratio, it would be fast but very difficult to turn. Definitely a craft for protected waters only.
Nicaragua dugout canoe bow
Top view of the bow, showing the stem decoration.
Nicaragua dugout canoe stern
Top view of the stern. The sharply-pointed shape of the carved interior contrasts nicely with the rounded end of hull's exterior form. As at the bow, the apparently heavy stern is actually an overhang, and the stern itself is not much thicker than the sides.
Nicaragua dugout canoe stern
Side view of the stern, showing the round hull and overhang.
Canvas-on-frame double-paddle canoe
Hanging just above the dugout is this canvas-on-frame double-paddle canoe. It was built by a member of Rhode Island's Haffenreffer family, famous as the brewers of Narrangansett Beer and benefactors of the Haffenreffer Museum, Brown University's museum of anthropology (which, by the way, possesses some excellent, very old Inuit kayaks).
Canvas-on-frame double-paddle canoe
Looking at the bow of the Haffenreffer canoe. This looks like a handy, stable, fun boat for exploring tiny streams and backwaters.
square-stern cedar guide canoe
A square-sterned "Grand Laker" canoe is hanging upside-down from the ceiling of the dining room. Probably from eastern Maine (i.e., "down east"), the cedar hull was once covered with a canvas skin. It looks to be in good condition. 
square-stern cedar guide canoe
The Grand Laker has rather square sections amidships, half-ribs between every rib, a full-length keelson over the ribs, and four nicely-proportioned thwarts with a subtle arch.
cedar-canvas solo canoe
Another canvas-on-cedar canoe, this one a double-ended solo boat with nice heart-shaped decks (unfortunately painted, not varnished). The presence of a seat in the stern is surprising, as a paddler sitting there would make the boat extremely stern-heavy. It's probably less than 12' long, so it's unlikely that it was used for extended tripping with loads of gear in the bow to level out the trim. The starboard gunwale is cracked amidships, giving the boat a sharply-angled outline. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the report. There seem to be a lot of repositories of small boats around the country whose inventory of boats have never been documented or put online. I congratulate your effort to bring so many of these places to our attention.
    I would also like to commend you for putting out solid information post after post. A few days ago, I found myself hungering after something substantial to ingest after binging on the usual cotton candy diet that is offered up on the internet and found myself heading to your site for the equivalent of a square meal. I appreciate what you are doing and hope that you can continue with this blog and avoid burnout for a while at least.

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  2. Wolfgang Brinck, the writer of the previous comment, is author of the excellent "The Aleutian Kayak." He builds fine skin-on-frame kayaks and gives courses in their construction. http://wolfgangbrinck.com/boats/

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