July 2008


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This 'n That


This 'n That

Donna and I just returned from Alaska. One of our trips was on a restored wooden boat. I realize this is not woodworking in our sense but the amount of work that went into restoring it was incredible. The boat had been neglected and was rotting. Major pieces had to be replaced. Planks for the hull were steam bent and put in place. The boat, the M/V David B was built in 1929 at the Lake Washington Shipyard in Houghton, Washington for the Libby, McNeil and Libby Co. She worked in Bristol Bay, Alaska at the company's cannery in Ekuk on the Nushugak River for about 25 seasons. Many vessels like the David B were built to tow small sail-powered boats to the salmon fishing grounds. This method was used to get around a federal rule that prohibited engines in fishing boats. The David B would tow a string of as many as twelve to fifteen boats to the grounds, then pick them up for their return.

In the 1950's the Nushugak River in front of the cannery changed course, forcing the company to move its operations elsewhere, and leaving the David B stuck on the beach. Decades later, the boat was pulled a quarter of a mile across the beach and re-launched. New owners brought her by barge to Seattle. In 1998, Northwest Navigation acquired the David B and began restoring her for passenger service. All of the deck beams and decking have been replaced, and a new trunk cabin has been built. All the systems (such as navigation and electrical) except the engine, have been replaced or rebuilt. Hours (actually years) of loving care have been spent to get the vessel working again after her fifty-year retirement.

One interesting fact is that the boat was going to operate around glaciers where large chunks of ice float in the water. To prevent a "Titanic", the lower hull was lined with Angilique wood. What is that?

Angelique is also called the Teak of Guyana & Surinam (Dicorynia guianensis). From what we heard at McBeath that Teak would not be available or very expensive, this may be an answer, The heartwood is russet in color when cut but turns to brown when dry with a purplish cast. The grain is generally straight or slightly interlocked. The grain is slightly coarser than Black Walnut.

Flat sawn surfaces show violet colored bands. Quarter sawn shows a distinctive stripe associated with the interlocking grain. Surfaces may appear dull but have a golden subluster. Sawing is less difficult when the wood is green. Since there is a lot of silica in the wood, tools dull quickly and carbide-tipped tools are a must.

This wood can be used for parquets, furniture, decoration, decks, cutlery, and for boats.

Mark Rand