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Wes Huether - Redbird

Posted on March 23 2012

Hi Ted and the rest of the team. I just came across your web site as a result of an add in My home workshop magazine. I went to your site and low and behold there was the book I used for the plans to build my Red Bird cedar strip canoe almost 25 years ago. My bother and I got a few of the guys together and built six of them the winter of 83/84. 2 Red Birds and 4 Chestnut Prospectors we all modified the book plans as we wanted a bit more capacity for pay load and the type of water we canoe in. My Boat is an 18.5 foot Red Bird and I added 4 extra strips to the side height and worked my stations to 2 inches wider at center beam. and added about 3/4 inch to the over all rocker. I also added about 3/4 of an inch the front and rear width of my gunwales. Weight of the boat the day I finished it was 62.5 lbs. Not sure what it is today as it has had 4 recoats with one complete strip sand down before the last recoat 2 years ago. We used 36 in wide 6 oz fiber glass cloth on the out side which resulted an a very tough double layer on the bottom of the boat and then used 60 inch 2 oz on the inside to compensate for the added weight on the outside. All fasteners and screws are Stainless. We used 5/16 stainless tube to protect for the bow and stern stems. I have been using the Behr high quality spar varnish to keep my boat looking great and I use minwax shuffle board table wax to keep it slick in the water. We set up a double router table to do the bead and cove that we attached to a band saw and then rigged a power feed so that we would have very accurate strips. we had our cedar custom milled in Armstrong BC so that we ended up with a full 3/4 thick board before we machined the bead and cove. We selected the logs for grain and color and started with 20 foot 3/4" X 6" boars. The rest was pretty much standard instructions from the book. I have attached a few pictures of construction and some of the boats fist expeditions. and one of the boat as appears hanging in my garage today awaiting yet another summer of service. It has done many hundreds of miles on rivers and lakes and can be a rather heated topic when the kid discuss who gets it in my will. (Darn kids! I am only 50). The first major expedition we did with it was my oldest daughters Grade 5 Outdoor Ed trip on the first weekend in June 1990. We started in absolutely beautiful weather on a Wednesday afternoon from the Boy Scout camp just West of the narrows on Shushwap Lake. We went through the narrows and then north up the Anesty Arm to the Whites Sands Camp Ground and the very north end of the Lake. round trip was about 30 miles We had 24 kids and 12 Adults plus 4 tag along pre school kids that came with parents. All the other canoes were either the Grumman aluminum or the Coleman Kevlar "bathtubs". Since my wife and I were the most experienced trippers I made sure that I was the last canoe in the group and also had the task of matching paddlers to boats, loads and kids. My wife and I ended up being the Trip Masters by default because of experience. Most boats had about 250 to 300 lbs of gear, supplies, 2 or 3 kids and a couple of paddlers. I had 2 Girls and most of the food and of course my old faithful camp shelter/ cook kitchen that goes on every trip I do. Its made of 4 light weight tarps with 4 steal camping poles and 1 beach umbrella, ropes, and couple of golf balls. Makes a 14 X 20 3 sided shelter when set up to full size. My gear was just over 750 lbs and I weigh 220 lbs in including my little 12 inch chain saw. My daughter and friend might have weighed 130 lbs combined and had a combined paddling experience of about 2 minutes. The trip out was gorgeous. Weather was perfect. Kids did a great job and the little rascals actually learned something and had a lot of fun. I had more trouble with bitching mothers then I had with the kids. We did all the requirement stuff on Thursday and Friday. The teacher asked me how I was going to teach the kids the camp set up skills for bad weather and I told hi that the weather forecast was calling for wind and rain for Saturday and that I want to get to the camp ground about 2 miles south on the east side of the lake for Friday night so that we would have to cross the lake into the wind to get to the next camp ground on the west side about 4 miles further south on Saturday. The weather cooperated perfectly. The rain started about 4;30 AM My wife had the kids out of bed and breaking camp and I had fire going an breakfast well on its way by 5;45. Had break fast over and canoes loaded and ready to shove off. The wind was just starting and wasn't to bad and we made the 4 mile crossing in about 3 hours start to finish. This trip and camp pitch was a real eye opener for every body. All but 4 of the adults were basically useless. the kids were Great the 2 previous camp pitches and tear downs had prepared them much better than I had thought. We had the camp shelter up and all the gear under in less than 20 minutes. Fire was going and my wife and daughter had a hot lunch in the works along with getting wet people warmed up and dried out. I got the kids organized and they had camp set up and every boy a dry bed by the time dinner was ready. None of the adults was laughing at my camp shelter now. The kids just loved it and we had so much fun to was one of the girls I expected to be a bit of whiner even told her mom to quit whining and shut up. Was pretty funny. by the time the sun went down I had the kid all well equipped to handle just about any thing except grumpy parents. The rain let up about mid night and Sunday turned out to be a good day. I did a bunch of extra skill instruction with some of the bigger kids. Righting a capsized boat and deep water entry and such. The wind picked up Sunday night and I did like the look of the sky when we went to bed. About 5:30 it started to rain real light so I got every body up while my wife got breakfast going. The kids and I had camp packed and ready to load by the time breakfast was done. The canoe loading was pretty much routine by this point and the kids and rest of the adults loaded the canoes and shoved of while my wife and I pulled down my camp shelter and loaded that last 2 canoes. We were cleared out of camp by about 8 :15 and had about 5 miles to paddle in to a pretty tough head wind with about and 8 to 10 inch chop in open water. I took most of the weight and the 2 girls and was the last to shove off. Every body had about a 5 to 10 minute lead on me. The one thing I had failed to do was give instruction for paddling in to a strong head wind and I had canoes all over the place. I did some hard paddling and got every body in close to shore and then took the lead and told everybody to follow my lead as close as possible. Every body did real well including the parents that had been a pain. By the time we got to the narrows it was noon. There was a good 15 to 18 inch chop with a driving rain we had about a mile to go but it was over open water and was pretty ugly. we beached that the narrows camp ground and my wife got a good fire going in the camp kitchen that was at that campsite. I took the teacher in my canoe and did a scout run to see if I was willing to take the kids across in that wind. I found a sheltered spot that deflected the wind up and off the lake for about 3/4 of the distance we had to cover and would put the wind directly behind us for the last 1/4 mile. We got everybody fed and dried out. I sat every body down and gave very explicit instructions on this crossing. By this time every one of the parents knew that listening to my instructions made a big difference in the amount of energy expended and the safety of every one. We shoved off with me in the lead and every one followed like baby ducks. We did the crossing with out any problems. I weighed my gear that came out of my canoe when I got back to the truck and I had 740 of gear, the 2 girls and me so was about a total of 1150 lbs. Every body was wore out including me but I did a lot less work then all the rest because my canoe was just so much more efficient. My wife has never ever gone in another canoe since that trip she refuses to do that much work when you can enjoy the trip in our very beautiful red bird thanks to you wonderful canoe craft book. Thanks for many years of family fun and memories. Wes Huether

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