If you find yourself with a yen to make yourself a boat, to find some solitude on the surface of a placid lake, the first step is buying a book published in 1979.
Called Instant Boats and co-authored by the irresistibly named Harold ‘Dynamite’ Payson (pictured) – “a Maine craftsman with common sense and uncommon humour” – it was developed in collaboration with a legendary, prolific Massachusetts boat designer named Phil Bolger.
Their innovative designs obviated the need to construct a jig on which to build the boat’s frame and lowered barriers to entry by relying on readily available sizes of lumber, plywood sheets and the general assumption that not everyone who wants to make their own dinghy knows what ‘lofting’ is but might have 40 hours to spare.
Dynamite went on to write more books and design more boats but this is the foundational text. The Helen of Troy of the instant boat genre, you could say (in that it launched a thousand ships, not that it started the Trojan War). Helen, however, didn’t have any of the charming northeastern craftiness ol’ Dynamite did.
Instant Boats is still in print and available from H.H. Payson & Company if you want to undertake one of the primal projects of the self-propelled person.