I love my canoe

We needed a canoe.  After weeks of scouring Craigslist, K. spied an ad for a $250 aluminum boat.  It turned out to be fiberglass and covered in flaky camo paint, but we still got it.  I hadn’t taken on any crazy homestead projects outside of the kitchen in a while, so I volunteered to restore the canoe to a shiny state of functional elegance.

The family Bauch checks out EL-2

We stashed the boat in EL-2, the neighborhood railroad tower we lease for storage, while it rained for a week and we made a boat-related list of things to do and researched marine paints.  Then it was time to work.  Here’s the “before”:


First order of business: choosing a name.  After disqualifying “Boats McGee” (my choice) and “Sheela” (K’s choice, short for sheela na gig) we chose “Boudicca.”  Boudicca, or Boudica or Buddug or Boadicea, was a female British tribal leader who led an uprising against the occupying Romans.  Oddly enough if all went well, the boat would be ready just in time for America’s independence day.

More high tech methods

I found a fantastic painting with a fantastic title: Boadicea Haranguing The Britons.  Since I’m an overachiever when it comes to canoe decoration, I worked up a simplified version to be painted on the bow using a sophisticated combination of Photoshop on my computer, resizing to print using the living room PC’s copy of Word, and revision with Sharpie that is still somehow the most efficient way to get something like this done in this house with these computers.  Ask me about trying to set up a print server.  I dare you.

Also she’s holding a paddle in my version.  Of course.


I sanded off the loose paint by hand.  The guys made me wear a respirator because of the fiberglass.  While sanding I noticed several smallish holes in the outer layer, which K. repaired with Bondo.


I’d gotten a quart of one-part polyurethane marine paint from West Marine in a gorgeous dark blue and went through about 8 cheap foam brushes applying it over the course of three days.  The first coat looked terrifying and uneven, but I reminded myself that paint is just like that and by the third coat it looked fine even if bugs kept landing on and dying in the paint, which is just one of the joys of working outdoors.  Someday we’ll have a huge garage to work in.  Maybe.  I tell myself this all the time.  Here’s Boudicca after two coats on the near side and one coat on the far side:

1 1/2 coats.

And let me tell you how excited I am to theoretically be driving around with a canoe on top of my Subaru.

After another adventure with the scanner, two computers, and the ever important Sharpie revision at the end I’d enlarged my sloppy all-caps handwriting from the Boadicea mascot picture into a name to be painted on the side of the boat.  Witness:

Transfering the name

And with the ever-important trifecta of white carbon paper, a steady hand and an appropriate brush, I managed to get the name and likeness on the boat on the hottest Canada Day I can remember.  I don’t think I got burned too bad, but sitting on that pavement under that sun felt like I was being baked in an oven.  Luckily N. was home and willing to make an emergency strawberry-and-banana smoothie.

Mostly done!

(Those carbon transfer marks will rub right off once the paint is dry.)

Hopefully we’ll get her out on the water this holiday weekend and everything will go well.  Happy grilling, boating, fireworks watching, Canada Day celebrating (who knows what they do), and general merrymaking to everyone out there!

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