The boat, absolutely simply, is beautiful. Its detail is exquisite, custom-built by Jim Ray in his tidy home workshop, the aroma of afresh cut copse adorable visitors to breach awhile.
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On the adjacent oak workbench, columnist Greg Cossel’s textbook-thick 278-page book, “Building Baby Boats,” covers a baby assemblage of WoodenBoat magazines. All accoutrement are neatly in their place, with not a atom of dust on the bland board surface.
Granted, the book’s awning anorak is bedraggled and wrinkled, accessible signs of assorted readings. The book and its columnist were Ray’s guides in architecture his 5½-foot by 14-foot baiter that will anon ply the amnion of Spofford Lake.
Ray, 53, started architecture the baiter aftermost year and has spent hundreds of hours, bow to stern, crafting it central his workshop. Today, it runs about the breadth of the shop, sitting aloft the bivouac that will booty it to breadth baptize bodies, the mast and adviser the final apparatus to be finished.
It will be committed in two to three weeks with the actualization of the still-secret name, and afresh they will set captain with the brief good-luck smashing of the Champagne canteen and — uh, analysis that.
“Whoa! We’re not smashing annihilation on my boat,” Ray says, beginning into laughter.
Maybe, he concedes, he’ll acquiesce a distill of Champagne to blow its bright bow.
Ray action a lot. He’s got a agitating faculty of humor. Maybe it comes from the abandon that backward at age 48 offers a person. Maybe it’s the aplomb acquired from ability aggregate with his constant accomplice — his wife, Denise — and accepting aloft three daughters calm in this advanced accessible amplitude on a adobe alley in Westmoreland.
“Frugal living,” Ray calls it.
Their television still has aerial ears, acceptable abundant to cull in a brace PBS stations and WNNE, an NBC base out of White River Junction.
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His mind’s usually antagonism afterwards dinner, cerebration about the abutting day’s project. He has affluence of hobbies for evenings, abounding involving wood, such as woodturning. Ditto, Denise, who does crafts, quilting, painting, agronomical — you name it. She works part-time at Maplewood Nursing Home. And she helped him adhere abounding of the 1,700 rivets in the boat.
Ray allotment to the kitchen table with a board beaker he spun, its details, again, meticulous.
He congenital his own house, the workshop, the alfresco adobe oven, the amoroso abode — congenital every anatomy on the 20 acreage of acreage he owns. He bought the acreage aback he was 19, aback he aloof knew country active was for him.
Ray brings in a scattering of beacon to bite on the grass in the meadows during the summer, and one accordingly becomes their meat accumulation for the year. He and Denise abound all their own vegetables, broil Artisan aliment in the alfresco oven and calefaction the abode with copse that he chops.
Frugal and self-sufficient.
“I’ve got this anticipation in my arch I can accomplish things. I accept this ache that I can body anything,” Ray says.
Ray, who has an earlier brother and three adolescent sisters, lived in the Freeport breadth of Long Island until he was 11, area his ancestor was a badge officer. It was a bad fit for him, both the burghal and school.
“I was not focused. Academy was not for me,” Ray says. “I was abject blame and agreeable to kindergarten and it didn’t get any better. I was abundant added absorbed in what was activity on alfresco the window.”
A few years afterwards his grandfathering died, the ancestors confused to Spofford to be afterpiece to his grandmother. His country spirit unleashed, every summer day was spent on Spofford Lake, be it in a baiter or in the water. He would bathe “much further than any ancestor would allow,” adage he’s consistently been absorbed to the water.
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Ray accelerating from Keene High in 1980, dabbled in mechanics, formed as a architect breakable for a year, and afresh got a job with the N.H. Department of Transportation in 1981. He angry it into a career, alive his way up to supervisor.
He spent 30 years agronomics roads, actuality on alarm nights, weekends and holidays. He was consistently apprehensive if the barrage hitting the window meant affairs would be messed up afresh because the anchorage bare to be treated. He absitively time was life’s accurate gift, that he would retire aboriginal and alive frugally.
So bristles years ago he chucked assignment at age 48. He affective aboriginal retirement and hasn’t looked aback since.
He and Denise, who is from New Jersey, met in abbey aback he was 15; they affiliated aback he was 20 and she was 19. By then, he had already bought the acreage in Westmoreland and anon was toiling at architecture their house. The kitchen absolutely was advised to be his workshop, afore they agreed it would be best if he had his own abstracted building.
Remodeling the kitchen and bath are on approaching agitation lists, admitting Ray categorizes them as one of life’s beneath exotic, admitting necessary, projects.
About 10 years ago the Rays angry to Noah Elbers of Alstead, freeholder of Orchard Hill Breadworks, for admonition in architecture a aliment oven application adobe from their own acreage as primary material. Eventually, they congenital and accursed up their own alfresco oven, baking 20 to 25 Artisan loaves at a time — and adequate lots of pizza. They awash some aliment on the side, but today mostly broil for themselves.
“It was fun,” Ray says of the project. “Things like that absorb me.”
Their three daughters, Christine, Kathleen and Amy, were built-in in 1984, ’86 and ’88, respectively, and they accept three grandchildren. One of Ray’s aboriginal ventures in boat-building was a collective activity with Amy, as ancestor and **** congenital a kayak that he still uses today. He additionally congenital a Maine adviser canoe. He’s been absorbed for awhile.
Ray aboriginal spied WoodenBoat annual in 1994, in a cigar abundance at the Colony Mill Marketplace in Keene. He was fatigued to the annual afterwards accessory a bells on a windjammer in Maine, admiring to the board baiter on the deck. He capital to apperceive added about board boats.
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Founded by Jon Wilson in 1974 in Arctic Brooksville, Maine, the annual is adherent to the attitude of architecture board boats. Ray has been account it awning to awning for 22 years, fueling his affection for board boats.
He’s additionally a lifetime affiliate of a website, offcenterharbor.com, that has volumes of videos and accessories about baiter building, and abounding added capacity about boats.
WoodenBoat annual led to the aperture of WoodenBoat Academy 36 years ago in Brooklin, Maine, about 3½ hours arctic of Portland on the ocean in the Acadia National Park region. Ray bought Cossel’s book a few years ago, and active up for a chic Cossel teaches at the school, Fundamentals of Boatbuilding.
His admiring to body his own baiter agitated afterwards that experience.
“Not alone am I absorbed to the baptize and to copse and to boats, but the academy is aloof phenomenal,” Ray says. “Every day I was demography addendum afterwards addendum afterwards notes. I couldn’t accept how abundant I was learning. I was amazed.”
After ample deliberation, he chose a Skylark architecture for a baiter that calmly seats four. He adapted his branch for the activity and has formed hundreds of hours over the aftermost year. If he needs advice, he calls Cossel.
He’ll acknowledgment to the academy in backward May for alumni week, as he was amid those called through a action to advice set up and breach bottomward the school. He can’t wait.
Oh, the irony. Young Jimmy Ray about flunked his woodworking chic at Keene High.
“I didn’t like academy at all,” he says, “but aggregate I do now originates from a book.”
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