Relaunch of Whitehall Gig David T. Heim

by Ingo Gunther

Today, after some refurbishing and sprucing up, Village Community Boathouse re-launched our most precious and beautiful boat, the David T Heim. 
We were lucky to have Judy Heim attending, telling us about the illustrious life that David Heim has had.  We learned about his career as a master marine electrician, tug boat captain,  captain school instructor, boat builder and adventurous, entertaining, and wonderful character. 
We toasted the splashing and will keep David, who used to build boats with us in the early days along with our legendary founder Mike Davis, in our memories. …while many more memories will be formed and shaped in this boat that carries his name into the future.
With special thanks to Lorne Swarthout who oversaw the original building process of the “DTH” and who strong-armed the boathouse into not just building another Whitehall gig, but building this smooth cedar strip beauty (breaking our boat-building budget in the process).  Thanks also to Marcel Dejean, the coconspirator / master on the project.  And thanks to our then-treasurer Paul Caviano for putting up only symbolic resistance.  And special thanks are also owed to Sally Curtis  who embraced the project back in 2017.

Judy Heim remembering David
Lorne Swarthout, VCB boatbuilder speaking at the relaunching ceremony

VCB Boatbuilding – March Update


Lorne Swarthout

The boatbuilders have been busy this month, and we will be back at it on Wednesday
and Sunday. Here is an update on our two big projects.

We have finished painting the inside of Quixotic with its distinctive gray/green and
cream colors. The new oak thole pads have three coats of varnish. There will, as
always, be some touch up and also floor boards to paint.
We flipped it over to paint the bottom. Not so fast! The keel has taken a beating in places, so we decided to clean it up and give it a layer of fiberglass. Sally is demonstrating how to use a smoothing plane.

The Quixotic’s bow has really taken a beating and so we cut away a piece and added a
white oak filler. I think a brass stem band will also be a good idea.
We did a final fit of the last two planks for the peapod, cut bevels and gains, mixed
four batches of “peanut butter,” and glued them in place. Hamid was happy to be
working with wood again.
Then, in celebration of what boatbuilders call the “whiskey plank,” we hoisted a glass. In
our case it was a dixie cup with a thimble-full of domestic beer. But the occasion was a
happy one and included both old-timers and first-timers. Now it is on to the outer stems
and keel, and then we can pop it off the form.

Sunday Boatbuilding on Pier 40

The Sunday boatbuilders on Pier 40 made progress on both our big projects today. We added one more plank to the Peapod, and would have added a second if we had a few more clamps. We also added new white oak thole pin blocks to Quixotic. 
In the middle of this sunny afternoon we welcomed Sally, Frank, Dave and Marcel back from the Snow Row up at Hull. They returned a bit weary but very proud of the blue ribbon the youth crew had won on Saturday.
The boat shop will be open for business and welcoming all volunteers on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons through the rest of the month. No appointment necessary.

Winter VCB Boatbuilding 

Students are (slowly) completing work on the Opti. Spirits are high and “peanut butter work“ is improving. Mary is a steady leader, and Andrew is a patient teacher.

Winter Boatbuilding At VCB


Lorne Swarthout

On Sunday the VCB boatshop was rocking like it was February 2020. Of course, on this second anniversary of the first great 21st century pandemic, everyone was vaxed and boosted and masked. Things are not yet—and may never be—the same. Nonetheless, out there on Pier 40, beneath the roar of the gas heater, a dozen volunteers were hard at work building and repairing boats. They were sanding, planning, gluing, painting and fiber-glassing with focus and camaraderie: it felt like old times.

Our boatshop has been slow to reopen this winter. Like everyone else, we have hunkered down as the blizzard of delta and omicron has swept through our region. Now that it seems the worst is past, we are cautiously putting out the welcome mat on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons for volunteers who want to help refurbish our gallant fleet of Whitehall gigs or lend a hand with a new project, a 14’ Maine peapod.

In addition, on Fridays after school, a clutch of VCB high school rowers are learning new skills as boatbuilders. They are tackling an 8’ Opti row/sail pram which is a continuation of a winter 2020 project. This crew is making good progress and having a good time in the process.

High school (and college) students who are working on the Opti, Fridays
from 4:00 to 6:00.
Drilling holes to mark out the centerboard slot.
Bending some reluctant boards to make the gunwales.
The Notorious G.I.G. is in the shop for its five-year overhaul. It needs to
be scraped and sanded inside and out before we put on three fresh coats
of varnish.
Five years of vigorous rowing have worn down the thole pin blocks,
We replaced the old ones with white oak.
The bilge got a new coat of red paint to match the red sheer strake.
Some people wanted to paint the whole interior, but Sally is very partial
to the all-natural look. (We don’t always agree on everything)
A cracked plank needs to be cut away and patched, backed up with a
butt-block inside and fiberglass outside.
Everyone got together to lay new glass cloth on the keel. Far in the
back, you can see Frank working on the new electric lines.
The Peapod is being built around eleven “molds” that rest on a strongback. Straight and level is important.
The steam box (with the tea kettle) is ready to go. The thin pieces that will
be laminated for the stems need about an hour of hot steam in order
to be flexible enough to go around the form in the back.
Even with the steam, persuading all ten laminations to go where
we want them calls for all hands on deck.
Marking carefully for the next plank.
We are making patterns for each of the five planks. It is an extra step
but it assures a better fit and less chance of wasting expensive wood.
Once in place and attached to the bottom board, the stems need
to be shaped to accept the planks.
The first plank is down! Celebration!
All work and no lunch? Not at VCB.