When I was a sprout, 'bout Junior High School (weren't no 'Middle
Schools' in them days) I had a woodshop teacher went by the name of
Mr. Hoot - and that was his real name, too - now, ain't that a . . .
My project of choice was a half-hull model of a boat that I had read
about in a book called, "Sailing Alone Around The World", by Joshua
For any of you who haven't heard of it, and it don't matter if you're
into boats or not, that book is a helluva read. This was back in the
day when boys read 'Adventure Stories' and Slocum's book really fit
She was beamy and she was meant to be sailed flat. This was not one
of yer fake clipper ship looking pond sailer things but a real
deepwater boat that was made to go 'round the world - the boat was
damned near as round as the world itself.
Old Slocum prolly put as much thought into the design of the "Spray"
(such was her name and 'twas a good name for such a boat, which became
obvious when trying to point too close to the wind) as that Lindberg
fella had put into "The Spirit Of Saint Louis", which prolly had
better characteristics to windward.
Now, the book had the loftings in it for the boat and I faithfully
transcribed them onto graph paper. I asked Mr. Hoot for a fine
grained wood to cut out my project and he gave me a wonderful stick of
I taped up the cut lines to the squared up board and had at it with
the bandsaur. I've always liked bandsaurs and feel very comfortable
with them. I guess Mr. Hoot was less comfortable with me working the
bandsaur than I was and he had me cut way outside my intended lines,
so as not to run my adolescent digits too close to the blade.
Well, I had a lot of rasp work to do as a result and our shop did not
have proper rasps, but things that were more like metal files.
I got marked down for taking so long to get the final shape on the
I also got marked down for making "a really ugly boat hull, that don't
even look like a proper boat hull".
At the end of our time together, Mr. Hoot said to me, " Watson, it's a
good thing that you are in the college prep track, because you would
never make it working with your hands".
Well, I did go to college. I went to college on my earnings from
being a carpenter.
I went on to have my own cabinet shop and make some pretty nice stuff
for some pretty nice people.
I still have the half-hull model of the Spray.
It looks exactly like the half-hull model of the real Spray.
Yeah, she's beamier than most boats and prolly looks funny to some
But, you would think that a shop teacher would have understood.
I wonder what ever happened to Mr. Hoot?
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker (ret)
Real Email is: tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet