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Wooden Boats: In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  135 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
There are fewer than 10,000 wooden boats in America, but the circulation of WoodenBoat magazine exceeds 180,000. What is it about these boats that has captured the popular imagination? With his "lively blend of reportage [and] reflection" (Los Angeles Times), Michael Ruhlman sets off for a renowned boatyard in Martha's Vineyard to follow the construction of two boats-Rebec ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 2001)
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Jul 28, 2014 Gay rated it it was amazing
I am a fan of "dying" arts such as wooden boat building. This book follows the lives to two die-hard wooden boat builders on Marthas Vineyard, MA. They are characters themselves, surrounded by more characters. They learn the trade and they become experts at fitting a complex wooden boat together with reverence for the stresses involved in sailing the open seas and the need for perfect logs with which to form the keels, planking, etc.

The wood comes from Suriname and is picked especially for each
Kevin A.
Sep 04, 2012 Kevin A. rated it really liked it
Ruhlman is a food writer, so he has a bit of the zeal of the new convert about him. Overly romantic, but still a good book. And the first boat mentioned is the restoration of an Alden Malabar Senior, the kind of sailboat my grandfather owned 1957-1968.
Perry Vayo
Jul 09, 2014 Perry Vayo rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.

The author takes you on an effortless journey inside of a community and lifestyle that most people think is long gone. But, it lives on in fine fashion in small patches here and there around the country and the world. This story is about one of those places and the people who populate it. It's a trip into the past and a look at the present. If you love old boats (like I do) or even if you have never set foot on one, this is a great read. Read this book and you will begin to un
Rob Loflin
Nov 22, 2007 Rob Loflin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mathematicians
interesting but a little technical at times.
Matt Danner
Jun 29, 2016 Matt Danner rated it really liked it
Very good. This book is equal parts discussion of the boats themselves, the techniques for building and repair, the culture of wooden boats, and the people who make and use them. It goes into the technical parts enough to give an appreciation without becoming too deep. At times Ruhlman overly romanticized the community and the boats themselves, but those who appreciate the spiritual aspect of these boats won't mind. Overall it's an enjoyable read. I only wish there had been a few more pictures.
Apr 22, 2015 Sean rated it it was amazing
Everything came together very well towards the end. Ross Gannon and Nat Benjamin are the embodiment of the raw passion inside of every craftsman.
Feb 29, 2016 Ebee4 rated it really liked it
Relays the passion, reward and reason behind building wooden boats through the iconic Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway on Vineyard Haven.
Dec 17, 2014 Jay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reason, memory
Beautiful description of life as a wooden boat builder in modern times. My first Ruhlman book, it won't be my last.
David Stanley
Apr 21, 2013 David Stanley rated it really liked it
Shelves: outdoors
I am, unashamedly, a fan of Michael Ruhlman. I also love boats. I grew up around sailboats, several of them wood, and I appreciate power boats as well. Ruhlman, again, brings all his skills of observation, description and writing craft to Wooden Boat. Ruhlman reminds us why craft and the "old ways" are so important to us in this modern age of disposability. This book, if you care about boats and the masters of their craft, will make you both sad and glad while it makes you think about the direct ...more
Nov 17, 2012 Chris rated it liked it
This is two books in one. The personal stories of sailing and wooden boats are brilliantly written. However, the sections about boatbuiding are poorly described and difficult to read through. This is disappointing considering the author did not have a boatbuilding background before the book. I wished he made it more approachable for non builders, but he didn't. It would have benefited from diagrams and pictures to better illustrate what was happening.
Steven Lancaster
Dec 16, 2014 Steven Lancaster rated it really liked it
Book was interesting discussion of craft and those who perform. I am somewhat familiar with wood working, boats, and sailing; yet, this book used a lot of technical jargon that made it hard to follow. Probably not the best book for you if do not have knowledge in this area.
Aug 31, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this book, made me wish I knew how to sail. Gave me a new respect for wooden boats. It demonstrates the beauty of the process, craft and materials of the boats. Stories of the boatbuilders are interesting. Illustrates that what you make is who you are and vice versa. What is quality and genuineness in society today?
Oct 13, 2014 Anthony rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: thinking craftsman and artisans
Any book that not only cites David Pye's "The Nature and Art of Workmanship" but uses it as part of its thesis is alright by me.
Ray Savarda
Oct 31, 2015 Ray Savarda rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-and-sold
Well written, interesting book. Develops a real appreciation for the many many hours required to really build a quality wooden boat, and the differences between something done by craftsment and the equivalen produced in a figerglass, mass produced mold-driven process.
Dec 23, 2008 Aimee rated it really liked it
This is an intriguing look into the hard realities of making a living as an american craftsman. I only wish the "voice" of the narrator was a bit less intrusive. The real-life dramas and personalities are more than able to speak for themselves.
Nov 06, 2014 Rick rated it really liked it
Great tale of rebuilding and understanding a master's work.
Feb 06, 2013 phoebe rated it liked it
Essentially Zen and the Art of Boatbuilding.
Sheldon marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2016
Taylor marked it as to-read
Jul 11, 2016
Adam rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2016
Michele marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2016
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Jun 06, 2016
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May 11, 2016
Jake Sorofman
Jake Sorofman rated it it was amazing
May 07, 2016
Alan Wyne
Alan Wyne rated it it was amazing
Apr 24, 2016
Kristian rated it really liked it
May 11, 2016
Kellie Demarsh
Kellie Demarsh marked it as to-read
Mar 16, 2016
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Michael Ruhlman (born 1963 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American writer. He is the author of 11 books, and is best known for his work about and in collaboration with American chefs, as well as other works of non-fiction.

Ruhlman grew up in Cleveland and was educated at University School (a private boys' day school in Cleveland) and at Duke University, graduating from the latter in 1985. He worked a se
More about Michael Ruhlman...

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