Wooden Boats is an intimate chronicle of the life of, and lives within, a wooden boat yard, a yard that builds only traditional wooden boats. The initial impulse for the story was the construction of Rebecca, a 60-foot modern pleasure schooner, and Elisa Lee, a 32-foot workboat-style yacht. But what quickly takes over as the main focus is the lives of the boat builders and the broader significance of the idea of wooden boats.
Wooden boats evoke passions--adoration, love, anger, awe--with a power that far exceeds their actual worth and intended function. These boats--planks bent around frames, fastened with bronze--fire the blood and exhilarate the mind in a way that few objects do. The best are as refined as a Stradivarius and also rugged and powerful enough to withstand harrowing deep-water voyages. Though fiberglass is all but ubiquitous in the boat building industry, a handful of yards continue to build these vessels. Not only are these vessels a marvel in themselves, beautiful to behold and to sail, they may also have something to teach us. And not just the little things. Wooden boat guru, founding publisher and editor of WoodenBoat magazine, Jon Wilson claims nothing less than this: "I think wooden boats have something to teach us about our place on the planet."
But Wooden Boats explores more than an idea. It also shows, through a year-in-the-life narrative and actual sailing adventures, what happens when men and women forswear our cheap materialistic culture and spend their lives in pursuit of something more lasting and satisfying than personal comfort.
Working with wood, building wooden boats, changes who you are.