At Otto Vallinga’s backyard boat building shop in the little community of Corunna, a poster on the wall depicts the wise words of well-known wooden boat builder, Captain Pete Culler: “Any man who wants to can produce a good boat. It takes some study, some practice and, of course, experience. The experience starts coming the minute you begin and not one jot before.”

Get On The Water Touring Canoe Specs
Length. 15’7”
Weight 50 to 58 lbs (depending on construction details)
Max width 33”
Capacity 1,070 lbs
MSRP $1,500

At the outset, building your own kit canoe can be intimidating, but the rewards are plentiful, Vallinga assures me. As the owner and founder of kit boat designer, Get On The Water, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this summer, he’s witnessed the pride and joy of customers post-build.

“There’s more satisfaction in building your own boat; to be out there in something you made, something you crafted,” he says.

Constructed using western red cedar strips, Get On The Water’s gleaming 15-foot, seven-inch Touring Canoe is beautiful. The design is the result of Vallinga’s 15-plus years in the boat-building world; a modern canoe designed for joyful paddling.

“Every wood boat is different, even when it’s the same design, because every piece of wood is different—the grain, the texture, and the way the light plays on the surface,” adds Vallinga.

On the water I find it tracks effortlessly, maneuvers gracefully and offers plenty of stability—there’s something magical and unmatched about the ride of a wooden boat on water.

At 55 pounds and with such a pretty finish, it’s not a model I would choose for rugged wilderness trips, but for a cottage cruiser and day tripper I can’t think of a more attractive option. The Touring Canoe is a perfect match for discerning recreational paddlers.

Vallinga says the building project takes about 100 hours and, though it’s not necessary, it doesn’t hurt to have a background in woodworking.

Get On The Water Touring Canoe | Photo: Kaydi Pyette

While Get On The Water offers the build plans alone for $70, purchasing the kit simplifies the project. For $1,500, your local UPS delivery guy will drop off cardboard boxes in various shapes and sizes, containing pre-cut cedar strips as well as epoxy and fiberglass sheeting. You’ll want to hold on to the 70- page instruction manual. The supplies come direct from boat-building supply shop, Noah’s Marine. For the budget-minded, a DIY build is more cost effective than the $3,000 to $4,000 purchase price of most off-the-sawhorse wooden designs.

Purchasing Vallinga’s design also comes with the assurance of assistance via phone or email, should the woodworker run into trouble, which Vallinga assures me happens rarely. Perhaps it’s my own inexperience when it comes to woodworking, but I’m surprised when he tells me that no one has ever called in a panic, claiming to have ruined their canoe.

So long as you follow the steps, you’ll end up with a water-ready boat, Vallinga says— any imperfections only add to the story of the craft. “Your wood boat, whether built from a kit or from scratch, was crafted by you for you. It was your sweat, your time, your passion that have brought it together.” —KP

v13-iss3-Canoeroots.jpgGet the full article in the digital edition of Canoeroots and Family Camping, Summer/Fall 2014.Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

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