Building the PRIDE OF BUFFALO – Day One

– June 17, 2013

Construction – Day 1

IMG_1592I woke late. Left for Home Depot at 10:00 am. I was excited and worried. I was quite sure about the

design of boat, especially after visiting a river festival on Father’s day/ I knew I needed ten feet of

beam (width) not merely eight and at least sixteen feet of length. Twelve feet just felt a little too cozy.

Besides, you always need a little more space than you think.

So, the design was final. This meant I’d need four deck subassemblies (an old Raytheon term, when

describing anything made up of any smaller things). It took me almost an hour of roaming the aisles of

the do-it-yourself kingdom, before I made up my mind and started picking wood, tools, fasteners off the

shelf to begin my very lean, first step: the fabrication of the deck subassembly.






The deck subassembly consists of eight 2” x 4” x 4’ pieces, fastened between two 2” x 4” x10’ stringers.

Four of these subassemblies combined make up the deck. I used nails versus screws. I wanted to be

free of the need for electrical supply if I had to build like a gypsy in a vacant area near a marina. Where

I would not be bothered by security or other (paying) boaters who paid way too much for their overly

cozy boats they never hardly enjoy.

I visited six potential build sites, once I was done shopping: 1) the foot of Ferry, aka. Broderick Park

(utilizing the western terminus of the Erie Canal / Black Rock Lock area, 2) the foot of Smith Street,

owned by Rick Smith and the makeshift lagoon of Rigidized Metals home-builders, 3) the foot of XX

Street in the Old First Ward (but it had no accessible ramp and I was worried about vandalism), 4 )

Riverfest Park on Ohio Street (but they were installing another eighty foot of dock and were stalled sue

to material delays) 5) the area behind the sand dunes along the south end of the Buffalo Ship Canal and

6) the RCR Yachts Marina, just north of the sand dunes on Fuhrman Blvd.


The RCR Yachts Marina was perfect. It was expansive, quiet (except for a hundred rowers from the

charity-based organizations who compete around the Great Lakes with other charitable organizations).

There was electrical and water supply as well as plenty of room to assemble the 2” x 4” members into

something I hoped I could be proud of (and not so heavy that I could not lug in all down to the water

when I was done).

There were some key assembly lessons learned:

Take your time. Two pieces of wood, especially at the beginning of an assembly have no need to be

joined, so you have to wrestle with them. Don’t rush! If you slowly and carefully measure, mark, cut

and or pound those nails in, they will do as told, if you do it the right way.


I used nails with a twist. If there was any bend in the nail, it would spiral around eccentrically, as it

would go it, but it went in just fine!

I used roofing nails to fasten the plastic, fragile tubs to the deck, so don’t hit these hard once they begin

to get snug against the lip of the tubs they are holding. Stay away from parts of any plastic extruded

parts that are there to reinforce the container. They are not made for shock and they fracture with even

a slight blow of a hammer. I should have gotten a ball peen hammer for this.

By taking my time, I ended up with a deck subassembly without warp or weave. It made a slight drum

type sound when struck at the end of the job and members fit in snug, as if they would hold without

fasteners. Norm, of This Old House would be proud.

Also: let the Home Depot folks cut your eight footers into four-footers. If they don’t get it just right,

mark them all to the shortest item and ask them to cut again. It’s free and if you’re polite, they don’t

mind at all. Outsource!

I wish to note a few memories:

I am way out of shape! I had to break every fifteen minutes to catch my breath. It was a combination of

being so excited, worried I might be kicked out as an intruder as well as not sure what I was doing.

A small beaver came out of the ship canal to graze on the fresh cut grass. I took this as a sign from God

that life was going well, since “Natures Engineer” had taken the time to come check out my innovation.

My fiancée, Tetianna came by with much-needed drinks, during my struggle and I have to say, I would

have either started making terrible errors and/or had a heart attack and/or become so discouraged that

I surely would have quit this effort before it really got underway.


Thank you, Tati, not just for saving my butt today, but every day.

I would truly be a mess without you!

As the shadows got longer and longer, I made my last effort to fasten all buoyancy containers to all deck

members. I lifted the whole unit and it felt like a big fat gal that didn’t want to dance. I found a way

to get under the front third of the whole thing and dragged it some fifty feet to the docks. I installed

four eye bolts within six inches of all four corners and tied some plastic clothesline to one bolt. I made a

make-shift hoist / lever arrangement and carefully lowered the “vessel: into a gap between docks.

The deck subassembly plopped into the water, in an anti-=climax just after 7:45 pm.


I had spent almost ten hours accomplishing a small, but critical event. I was one quarter done with the

deck (the boring but essential part of the boat) at the end of Day 1. I was sore everywhere, but had

an emotional satisfaction that conquered my unemployment blues. It was nice to plan and execute

something, finally that came out like it was supposed to! One down three to go..then… I’ll have a deck.

Read All Pride of Buffalo Stories

Originally posted 2013-06-18 20:41:07.

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