March 1, 2020
Welcome to the Building Burnett blog! If you know Eric and I on a personal level, you know it has already been a long journey to get to where we are now – actually building the boat! But for those that don’t, this post is a good place to start and will give you the Coles Notes on what’s been going on with us since the project began.
If you've read the About Us page you’ll know about the spicy noodle conversation and the birth of the dream. We began making this dream a reality when we both moved back to our hometown of Salmon Arm in British Columbia and started designing and building a shop to build Burnett in. Knowing we would be spending the majority of our waking hours in this shop for the duration of boat construction, we wanted to make sure we built something that was aesthetically pleasing and would be an inspiring space to work in. This led us to deciding on a timber frame design. We acquired some books, and a few tools, and spent our first winter designing the shop and cutting our timbers. When spring arrived- and with the help of many generous friends and family members– we raised our timber frame structure!
The following summer was spent working our respective jobs and stealing moments to work on the shop during our time off. We came back in the fall gung-ho and ready to work full-time on the shop. We finished the framing, slapped on the roof, installed a wood stove, and by the beginning of February finally had a boat building shop we were proud of. In celebration, and to show gratitude to all the people who helped and supported us along the way, we threw a barn-warming party (said by some to be the party of the year) with live music, local brews and slow-roasted brisket. The first milestone of the project had been completed, and it sure felt good.
With the shop complete we were ready to focus on Burnett, and start sourcing the materials we would need for the initial steps of the build. We had barely kicked our hangovers and cleaned up after the party when an opportunity to get some bluewater cruising experience came knocking on our door. We were a couple of guys wanting to sail around the world who, at the time, had little to no sailing experience. We- and our worried families- figured it would be a good idea to pounce on the opportunity. Less than two weeks later we were flying to Thailand, where we would embark on a 3500 nautical mile journey helping crew a 40’ sailing yacht across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius, an island nation about 2,000 km off the southeast coast of Africa. With stops in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, we took every chance we could to absorb all that offshore sailing has to offer. We made open ocean passages, weathered gales, entered new countries by water, and learned how to exist in constant 30+ degree temperatures. This, as it turns out, is no easy feat! We returned two months later humbled by the intrinsic challenges of offshore sailing, but inspired by the rewards and freedom that come with it.
After the trip we each took off for another summer season working, and upon returning to Salmon Arm started sourcing materials for Burnett. With a project of this size, and the desire to complete it on as lean of a budget as possible, it was important to put in time and effort to find the most economical sources of materials. At the same time, we were determined to find sustainable, high quality products. We found a supplier for marine plywood and epoxy that fulfilled our needs, pulled the trigger, and while waiting for our order had some fun adventures collecting lead, which will go into our keel for ballast (stories about that to follow). By January of 2020 we had our stock of materials ready, the shop fine-tuned, drawings from our designer, and the actual building of Burnett began! It was a long journey, and the fun is just beginning.
Now there's sawdust flying in the shop and exciting things are happening. Burnett is taking shape, and we want to share the experience. COVID-19 is altering everybody’s lives, and Eric and I are feeling very fortunate to be able to continue building Burnett during this crisis. We feel privileged to be able to isolate ourselves in our shop and carry on working, and we hope our project can help pass some time for those at home practicing social distancing. We want to recognize the amazing efforts of healthcare workers and providers of essential services who aren’t able to stay at home, and who are doing far more important things than building a boat.
We started this site so people could stay up to date with our progress, but also to archive the things we learn about stitch-and-glue boat building. Our aim is to share insight into the day-to-day trials and tribulations of building Burnett, and offer some technical how-to (or how-WE-do, at least) while moving forward with the project. Check out our Galleries for project photos and videos, as well as some of the other adventures we've had. Head over to our instagram, where we'll be posting more snapshots of the building process. Much of this is uncharted territory for us, and we’re learning things as we go. So please feel free to share advice and communicate with us along the way, we’d love to hear from you!
So there you have it, an intro to our project, Building Burnett. We hope we've intrigued you enough to tag along as we build this boat, and once she's launched, explore the globe. It’s sure to be a good time! In our next blog post about Scarfing Plywood we will share in detail one of the first steps of stitch-and-glue boat building.
Cover and first image - Michael Barrus
Barn Party - Raj Owens