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My Story by Glen O'Dell, Ottumwa, IA, USA

Posted on April 26 2014

By Glen O'Dell

In July of 2000 my friends and I went to Montauk State Park in southern Missouri trout fishing.  While we were there I saw several brochures from different outfitters that shuttled canoers from different drop off points to pick up points.

After talking to my friends I called Darrell Blackwell at Jadwin Canoe Rental and scheduled a float trip from Cedar Grove to Akers Ferry.  That day I fell in love with the current river and paddling a canoe.

For the next six or seven years that was my vacation. I would go twice a year, once with my family and once with my buddies.  I have traveled about 50 miles of the current river several times.  It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

In 2007 I got a seasonal catalog for Cabela's that showed a cedar strip canoe on the cover, I then Googled cedar strip canoe.  Canoe Craft and Bear Mountain Canoes caught my attention.

I called a local book store and ordered Canoe Craft.  A couple days later I got the book, being a carpenter and wood worker I found it very interesting and read it front to back.

I told my father that I was going to build a cedar strip canoe. He told me a story I had heard before about him and his father building a plywood-lap siding boat in the basement that would not fit out the door when it was finished.  He then encouraged me on after reading and studying Canoe Craft himself.

I kept saying for a few years that I would start it this winter.  For the next two years I was way too busy building a new home and doing several other remodels.

When the fall of 2010 rolled around I told my wife when the trees start changing I am going to call Bear Mountain and get the plans and material so it was here staring me in the face for this winter.

I did so in mid-September.  I chose the 15' Ranger with the help of Joan over the phone.  The same week that everything arrived my father passed away and starting on my canoe is how I dealt with it.

I built a loft above my work bench, so that I could book match every strip for side to side.  With the material they sent me I was able to not have one scarf joint in my canoe.

As I went through each stage of building my canoe, I referred to Canoe Craft as my bible. I would read each chapter pertaining to that stage of the build at least half a dozen times.  I also kept Nick Offerman’s visual guide DVD to Canoe Craft in my DVD player.  I would also reference it every time I had a few hours to work.  With the guidance of the two, I was able to build a canoe that I am very proud of.

By the finishing stage my son got very involved and helped glass-epoxy and finish.  At the end of the project I had to build my own seats, cane them, build a portage yoke and fabricate my own paddles just to put a feather in my hat.  I'm working on a full head dress.

Now I have to build another one because I have two children and I do not want them to fight over this one.

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