Twenty years ago we decided to build an open canoe so that we could get on the water on the canals near our home in Leicestershire. We wanted a big boat which would carry two adults, two kids and a dog and opted for ‘Ralph’ an 18 foot boat from Paul Fisher’s collection that seemed, in our inexperienced eyes, to have the right characteristics.
Twenty years later, our boat is still going strong. This year she carried two big blokes, and all the gear we needed to complete the Great Glen Canoe Trail – sixty miles of solid paddling on the kind of water the Ralph was designed for.
In a world populated by plastic canoes of various kinds, our 18 foot plywood and ash craft still turns heads. There is nothing quite like a wooden canoe and it’s a wonderful feeling to have built her from scratch and done some wonderful trips in her.
We went on to make another Paul Fisher boat – the Esk 13 sea kayak – this is another beauty and still in use today. Shown below with its older sister (brother?) Ralph.
Paul Fisher’s canoe plans website is worth a look (http://www.selway-fisher.com/Opcan17.htm). his photo of a Ralph shows me and Jonny sitting on the gunwale trying to discover its tipping point. It is a very stable boat!