Rowe’s Wood rum­bles to life

Syd­ney River man’s hand-built vin­tage power­boat fi­nally hits the wa­ter

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY CAPE BRETON POST STAFF

It was sup­posed to be a lowkey voy­age but when Don Rowe took the vin­tage power­boat he built by hand in his garage for its ini­tial test run, it made quite a splash.

Rowe, who spent more than two years work­ing on Rowe’s Wood, wanted to take the 19foot, 1940s-in­spired ma­hogany­hulled run­about on a short trip in Syd­ney har­bour with his me­chanic be­fore it was of­fi­cially chris­tened in front of fam­ily and friends. How­ever, it didn’t quite work out that way.

“It was sup­posed to be se­cret; there was about 20 peo­ple there,” Rowe said of the midJune jaunt. “It was all friends of mine and then they let their friends know and rel­a­tives know. My wife was there, my daugh­ter was there. The me­chanic’s wife was there. I don’t know how they found out about it.”

Luck­ily, the Rowe’s Wood didn’t dis­ap­point.

Rowe, a re­tired har­bour mas­ter and former Syd­ney Ports Corp. gen­eral man­ager, said the gut­tural rum­ble of the en­gine fir­ing up on the first at­tempt is what he’ll re­mem­ber the most.

“Man, what a feel­ing,” he said. “For it to start like that and then to hear that sound — be­cause it has a unique sound, unique like a Har­ley has a unique sound — it’s dis­tinc­tive. Ev­ery­body had a grin on their face.”

A week later, the boat was of­fi­cially chris­tened dur­ing a cer­e­mony led by his grand­daugh­ter Kaileigh. It’s cur­rently at the Ben Eoin Ma­rina, across the wa­ter from his cot­tage in North­side East Bay.

While Rowe’s Wood has been out for few trips on Bras d’Or Lake, Rowe said he still has

a long list of peo­ple who are wait­ing to go for a ride.

“That’s what it’s all about, it’s all this month tak­ing peo­ple out who want to go for a ride in it,” he said. “Ev­ery­body wants to go in it — and it’s be­cause it’s unique, it’s dif­fer­ent.”

Rowe said see­ing his cre­ation come to life on the wa­ter also came as some­thing of a re­lief af­ter spend­ing count­less hours in his Syd­ney River garage work­ing on it.

“Not know­ing that you could do it, that was the im­por­tant part — to find out I could put an en­gine in and line it up prop­erly and have it work. To line up the hole for the shaft and have it work. The clear­ances are so se­vere that it’s scary. Some­times they say ig­no­rance is bliss. I prob­a­bly didn’t re­al­ize what I was get­ting into un­til I got into. But once we put it in the wa­ter and had her run­ning and put her in gear and took her out, she worked. That was the good feel­ing.”


Kaileigh Rowe, grand­daugh­ter of Don Rowe, chris­tens his boat Rowe’s Wood at the Ben Eoin Ma­rina in June. Rowe, a re­tired har­bour mas­ter, spent more than two years build­ing the vin­tage ma­hogany-hulled run­about in his back­yard garage be­fore fi­nally launch­ing it this sum­mer.

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