A SHIP SHAPING LIFE
He pushes the hand plane over the wooden plank.
Curled shavings fall to the floor. Timber whittles away.
Eric Bourden searches for the perfect edge.
The tools and knowledge of his forefathers still in use.
“This plane is about 150 years old.”
The 83-year-old learned to build boats with his father. He was 16 at the time.
They built a few together. Done a few himself. Bourden eventually drifted away from the craft.
It was a life decision. Didn’t want to get into it. Would rather talk boats.
The odd speed boat here and there, started up again with a 13-foot punt in 1982.
“The year the Ocean Ranger sank,” he adds. Rowed it around New-World-Island in 2009. Eighty-six kilometres.
In total, he’s built eight boats from the keel up. Putting in the ribs. Attaching the planks. Shaping the bow, gunnels and risers.
No oakum. Re-spun thread and marine caulking compound for the seams. Fiberglass too.
No sure what dad would think of it.
“I don’t know if they would use it. I’d say they’d stick with the old stuff.”
He embraces the new. There’s even an electric planer.
The greatest, on his own, a 20-foot motorboat in 2013. Powered by a four-horsepower Atlantic make and break engine. Built over the winter in his Bayview shed. Kept it a few years. Sold it to someone in Rocky Harbour.
The latest, a power dory in 2018. Bottom up across the yard, in storage until spring.
“That one has a square stern to hold a motor.
“I think it’s the only one of its kind for this area.” Thinking hard.
There could be more to come.
A sense of passion.
Another one to start, perhaps.
“If I can get the other one sold I will. I’ve got money tied up in it.”
Eric Bourden, 83, uses the traditional ways of boat building. The 150-year-old hand plane was passed down to him from his grandfather.