I explained to you kind folks not long ago that I was having a case of the "gotta have" disease in reference to a fishing canoe. I also described to you that a canoe is the same as that quintessential Cajun derivative, the pirogue, in about the same way that Dutch chocolate is similar to habanero peppers.
Last weekend, since I could not decide whether I wanted to buy or build, I decided Iíd try to build. What the hey, I figured, I got two boats under my belt and another started, I can do a canoe. I wanted to do a cross-breed, though. A hybrid, so to speak, of the canoe and the pirogue. I decided I would call this a pinou, pronounced "pee-noo" since it is a little of both. If I then brought Patches fishing with me, Iíd be bringing my minou in my pinou. Hee-hee-hee. Nevermind.
So I gave it a whirl this weekend, and remember, Iím designing this as I go: Short and wide. Sorta like myself, right? No problemo, although I suppose it can be argued that while I am short and wide, Iím not very stable.
I broke the first pinou under construction Saturday and one on Sunday, each when bending the bottom chines or, as we say in Looziana, the "stringers." Iíve bent stringers for three boats so far with no problems. Okay, I broke one side of the first one I ever did, on my runabout, but that was it. A little marine epoxy will cure many ills. The pirogue is built narrow, and I think I was pushing my luck widening it more like a canoe. Either that or Iím just a klutz.
Every boatshop must be fitted with an essential item: the Moaning Chair. This is the place you sit and moan when you have done something really stupid in your construction project. So after I spent all day Sunday on the second pee-nou and broke the chine, I went inside and got me a beer, went back outside and sat in my Moaning Chair and moaned for a good half hour. Then I tore the whole thing down and threw it away.
I was telling my girl this, and bemoaning that I might have to actually break down and get a set of plans to build a water craft of this type, and she said, "Oh, well, God forbid that you should tap into the collective wisdom of dozens of generations of boatbuilders who make that sort of craft and have perfected the art." Not a bad point, really, but it woulda been cooler to say, "Yup. This hereís me pinou. I designed and built it myself." Now, instead, I have to say, "Yup, this is my canoe. I bought a set of plans from some outfit in New York and built it myself." Itís just not quite as satisfying, somehow.
But I broke down and ordered a set of plans for a plywood canoe. They were cheap, might not even build it, but itíll be fun to look at even if I donít. I have lots of boat plans I acquired and never built: Elly, a Norwegian kosterbat some 150 years old, and Marsh Cat a 15-foot sailing catboat and a Riva Aquarama runabout. If I do build it, then I can only assume folks in New York know a lot about pirogues Ė I mean, canoes. I think Last of the Mohicans had canoes in it, and that was around New York, wasnít it? Itíll be okay.
This will be a fishing machine, no matter how I obtain it. I plan on fitting it with stabilizers toÖwell, to keep it stable, silly.
It will be set up with an anchor system, seats with comfortable backs, an electric trolling motor in addition to human power (i.e., paddles) and a place to safely store two fly rods.
Though I donít plan on going exclusively canoe, if I indeed find that I can fish out-of-the-way, previously inaccessible waters around these parts in the absence of the big ugly bass boat crowd, not have to pay $2.50 a gallon to put gasoline in my own big ugly bass boat, well, thatís all the better. I still got my little boat that my dad built, and Iíll finish my 16-foot skiff for when I got a fishing partner with me. Heck, I might just go native. Wait, I mean goÖuhmÖwell, native, yeah, thatís it!
The culprit in all this is satellite imagery readily available via the Internet. There are places on public property to fish that are only visible by satellite and only accessible by a small, easily carried vessel like a pinou. Canoe. Whatever.
Can you tell I need to go fishing? In the worst kinda way.
I guess a lot of it boils down to the fact that a guy who wrote a book called Native Waters: A Few Moments In A Small Wooden Boat just has to accept the lot given to him and spend his days in wooden boats, not plastic ones. I donít mind. I feel most tranquil and at peace in a wooden boat with a bamboo fly rod floating along blackwater canals like generations of ancestors before me.. For me, anyway, thatís about as close to heaven as you can get.