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Life After Death for a Wooden Boat

The life of a wooden boat can be harsh. As they age, these boats are often one problem away from being unceremoniously placed in the backyard or hedgerow to wait until the final reckoning. The life of a wooden boat owner is not easy either. Each year the issues they face cause there to be less of both of them on the water.

In 2004 I purchased a 1964 Luhrs 32 foot Mahogany boat from the former owners of Singer Castle on Dark Island. Strider was past middle age and needed work but I was able to use it throughout that summer. I spent the following spring replacing big and small wooden parts, caulking and painting and renaming it Pen & Ink.

My family enjoyed playing and working on the boat each summer until 2010 when I decided it couldn’t be put into the water again without some more major work. At the same time my wife and I were contemplating moving permanently to the Thousand Islands which meant building a new home and studio on our land in Hammond near Oak Point. In this equation, Pen & Ink was the loser. I attempted to sell it but had no luck.

Not wanting to waste a classic I decided I would take the boat apart and use the materials to create something new. I began by removing all the metal parts and storing or scrapping them.

Next some Amish friends helped me cut the boat apart into manageable pieces. We removed the V8 engine sliding it out the side of the open hull onto an Amish buggy. I’m sure this image made for some interesting conversations. Very little of the boat was burned or taken to the dump; if it wasn’t rotted I found a way to reuse it. The transom and mahogany lapstrake planks were used to create the interior walls of my new studio. The keel became one of the beams overhead. Cabinetry and trim was repurposed and part of the dash along with the wooden steering wheel was mounted on one wall.

Other parts found interesting homes as well. The engine and transmission was sold to a marina in Henderson Harbor and is sitting in a shed waiting to be transplanted. The boat was a single screw but came with a spare prop and bronze shaft. I shortened and machined the shafts with the help of my friend Marty Snye, a local blacksmith, and mated them to the props to create lamps. I created stained glass shades for all of the lamps and decorated each with various Thousand Island images. The porthole that allowed the captain to see gauges in the cabin when piloting from the flybridge is becoming a small stained glass window in my new studio. The transom flag now spends nice weather on the porch roof.


Those of us who get to live and work in this wonderful area are blessed.

Every day as I create and restore glass objects at Scott Ouderkirk Studios, I am able to look outside at the river and see ships as they travel by. Inside, I am surrounded by an environment that is comprised of the parts of Pen & Ink and I am able to fondly remember its’ life here.

Many a sunny summer day spent slowly cruising clear waters, the first time of the season when we were able to dive off the flybridge, a moonlit night spent sleeping soundly with the water lapping against the hull, even scraping and painting on a spring day. The memories make my work, which I love, even better.

By Scott Ouderkirk, Scott Ouderkirk Studios, Hammond, NY.

Scott Ouderkirk is an artist, author and craftsman who has moved moved his studio to the River.  Scott is a graduate of SUNY Oswego (BS in Technical/Vocational Ed), Syracuse University (MA in illustration) & University of Hartford (MFA in illustration). His books include The Amish Secret, Fallen Heroes, Sunday Drive, The Adirondack Run, Island Images, Barns and Wood, Waves and Wispy Smoke. In 2010 Scott was a presenter at the American Glass Guild's national conference in Detroit, MI and at the Stained Glass Association of America's national conference in Syracuse, NY in 2011. He was published in Wooden Boat January 2004 and was asked to write and illustrate the feature article for the Antique Boat Museum’s The Gazette Annual 2004.

 Video  of Scott Ouderkirk's work.


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Dennis Balchius
Comment by: Dennis Balchius ( )
Left at: 12:11 AM Sunday, December 15, 2013
I had a boat the looked just like this one. I sunk it in seventy feet of water just outside of Henderson Harbor during a storm. There were ten souls on board. No one was hurt or lost. Quite a thrilling day. Denn
John Peach
Comment by: John Peach ( )
Left at: 7:30 AM Sunday, December 15, 2013
What a great article. I have helped to rebuild a lot of old boats, and now you have given me some ideas for those beyond repair.
John Thumper Peach
Chris Wood
Comment by: Chris Wood ( )
Left at: 10:29 AM Monday, December 16, 2013
Scott, I purchased this boat in 1978 in Clayton. It was baby blue and in need of bright work and engine work. I painted it the light beige with blue trim, lots of varnish, and named it Strider. I based it in Clayton and spent many wonderful summers cruising the 1000 Islands and down to our place in Chippewa. I had it for 8 years before selling it to my brother Andrew Wood, who had it for several more years. One of the Martin sons from Dark Island bought it, so it cruised around Chippewa for many years. Sad to see it cut up, but I am sure it was ready for a major overhaul.
Beverly L. Ouderkirk
Comment by: Beverly L. Ouderkirk ( )
Left at: 10:39 AM Monday, December 16, 2013
Scott, You have once again preserved something we treasure. Our memories of the Pen and Ink, as shared by you, draw smiles and tears from all who have ever owned and loved a boat. As you carve your unique life's journey on the water and the earth, your active imagination continues to build a legacy well beyond your jolly glass snowmen. I too am watching a huge ocean-going vessel transverse the river on this very cold December morning before the Seaway closes for another season. Fear not for two of your props, now part of beautiful stained glass lamps that you created flank the window wall of the addition to my home, which you also designed. They will remain lit for years to come from my perch on the mighty St. Lawrence River - a gateway to the world and food for fertile artistic talents......with love for The Pen and Ink, The River, and You and our Family, Mom
sid manes
Comment by: sid manes ( )
Left at: 11:29 AM Monday, December 16, 2013
favorite old boats gently rock in the slip forever-on occasion they may give you a sinking feeling-but remain afloat, in prime condition on the moving waters of your memory. Merry Christmas
Anonymous User
Comment by: Anonymous User
Left at: 1:43 PM Monday, December 16, 2013
Andrew Wood
Comment by: Andrew Wood ( )
Left at: 11:16 PM Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Scott - After I bought STRIDER from my brother Chris, I spent the summer of 1986 on the boat while my cousin John Burt produced THE SLICK OF '76. It spent time at the Boldt Farm owned by DJ Price, Cherry Island and The TI Club, all the while being enjoyed by the cast of THE SLICK and introducing the kids from NYC to this beautiful river. I loved the boat, but was well aware of it limitations (especially trying to land in a wind with only one screw!)I'm glad it has found a home and continues to function instead of slowly rotting in someone's yard. It was great seeing it land at the Antique Boat Museum a few years back with you at the helm. A beautiful old girl.
Scott Ouderkirk
Comment by: Scott Ouderkirk ( )
Left at: 9:54 PM Friday, December 20, 2013
Great reading all of the comments and learning more about Pen & Ink. I'd love to see some old photos if you have any. Thanks!
Comment by: Dan
Left at: 12:42 PM Saturday, May 14, 2016
Thought id ask if you had any info. on 11 foot boats made by Industrial Shipping(Mahone Bay)Plycraft ltd.Between 1945 and 1954.Im presently refurbishing one,and after months of research cant come up with a exact model or year,Thanks!Will send pictures if you email me.