Final Assembly

Jeff Ilse bio photo By Jeff Ilse

I had planned to finish the entire boat at my uncle’s place (where I built the hulls) near Lake Superior, but it was just too far from home. On a whim, I drove down to visit a marina on the Mississippi River that was just 5 miles from home in Minneapolis, MN. It turned out it was definitely a working marina and they were excited to have me and my crazy project. I packed everything up and headed into the final assembly phase. Up to this point, I still had a lot of energy and felt the project was slow but moving along. I thought I was near the end. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t think I was even half way there when I moved everything to the marina. I had lots of big parts that looked like a boat, but there were so many little details involved in getting it together and into a functioning boat. It was the toughest mental challenge of the project. I thought I was nearly done, but it just kept going and going. I started putting in more hours and late nights trying to finish. Looking back, it was like trying to sprint an ultra-marathon. Ultimately, it was good I put in so much time so I was able to finish when I did, but I was badly burned out by the end. The only way I would ever consider doing another project like this is if it were my full time occupation and I had a good weather protected facility. All that said, I had a lot of fun working at Watergate marina. When the weather was nice, it was great to be outdoors by the river. There were resident bald eagles and lots of other wildlife to keep me company in addition to the friendly staff and other marina customers.

first introductions of the cabin to the hulls

It took days just to line the hulls up on the uneven ground. Once I did, I needed a controlled way to lower the 20’ long beams into place.

Then I had to lift the cabin into place.

once it was lifted and lined up, I built a more solid frame so it would be still while glassing in place. I just built it out of whatever scrap I had laying around, so the temporary frame is a bit ugly.

I was waiting to take this picture since I moved the hulls to the marina. In order install the keels, I had to jack the boat up and I finally had enough vertical clearance to park!

I was nearly finished, but the weather wasn’t finished trying to stop me. The river rose 22’ and shut down the marina. They had to move all the other dry storage boats, but I didn’t want to deal with relocating so I took a chance. The water came within 3 inches of floating me, but it peaked and then slowly receded. It was an exciting adventure, but a terrible distraction. The power was off for weeks and I had to row to the boat to get any work done. I was determined not to be stopped, so I bought a portable generator and kept going. It felt good to have water surrounding me again and I started to see the end in sight. We even slept aboard for 3 nights while the river crested in case we floated in the night. We could feel one hull trying to lift.