This cottager built his own boat during COVID-19

Published: May 21, 2021

Man standing with DIY boat

What do you have to show after your year in quarantine? Some of us knit, others read. Puzzles have made a comeback. And one cottager on Kennisis Lake, Ont., used the pandemic to build his own boat.

After 13 months of planning, sourcing, sanding, and epoxying, Aaron Fremont is finally finished his boat. But the process has been eight years in the making: this civil engineer ordered the boat plans from a magazine in 2012. He started gathering timber and drawing the first few sketches before putting the project aside to build a house with his wife, Michelle. And, as is often the case with large-scale projects like this, he put it aside waiting for the “perfect” time. 

Wooden boat frame

It turns out that “perfect” time was the pandemic—it gave Aaron the push he needed to brush off the dusty box with plans for the ‘Squirt’ model from marine design company Gen-L and get back to work. He purchased lights and a heater to keep his workshop—the garage—comfortable while he worked through the winter. “It’s the kind of project that takes a good amount of time and under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have had that time without a sacrifice to other obligations,” he says. 

Finished boat in garage

Aaron chose to customize his boat with vintage flair. He sourced multiple 1950s engines—not knowing which one would work best with the boat—and an antique steering wheel from Kijiji and used dark red mahogany wood. He wanted something that “looked cool and was new, but embraced the old-style charm,” he says. And because building a boat isn’t a big enough project, Aaron also decided to restore two of the vintage engines to use with the boat. “I was a little bit apprehensive taking them apart because I don’t have that much experience working in mechanics,” he says. “It was a lot of disassembling, reassembling, and disassembling again until I got it right.”

The 11×4 boat is now sitting at the Fremont cottage, ready for a summer on the water. “This experience has been very therapeutic for me,” Aaron says. “When I had a long day at work on the computer, it gave me the opportunity to get up and use my hands in a different way. I’m going to miss it.”

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