Perfectionist Boat Building

perfectionistA true perfectionist would never finish a boat.  The art of building a boat (with wood) is an imperfect craft.  The material itself comes in a variety of forms and two boards of equal size, shape, and specie can behave entirely differently when cut, planed, or bent.  Mistakes are common and some are unavoidable.  A true perfectionist would struggle with the craft in that he would continuously be trying to correct every flaw, even those flaws which may not be able to be corrected.

Thankfully, I am not a perfectionist.  I am also not a maverick or what I like to call “a cowboy.”  I plan out each step and in some case practice on scrap wood.  I take my time when needed and move quickly when allowed.  If I make a mistake, I do not fret.  I learn from it, decide if it needs to be fixed and if it can be fixed, and I move on.  The people that have seen and ridden my boats consider them “perfect” because the builder typically sees all of his mistakes where the spectator only sees the most obvious.

The dreaded perfectionism can simply kill a boat project because it will take that person a much greater amount of time and frustration to complete.  With each passing step, the builder sees more and more imperfections and spends more and more time fixing them.  What separates the amateurs from the professionals is the tolerance for imperfection and the ability to complete tasks closer to that line of perfection the first time.  Those of us throwing boats together with their kids will have a very high tolerance for imperfection when it comes to aesthetics, but a lower tolerance when it comes to structural integrity.  We want it to be as safe as possible for our kids, but the appearance is not quite as important.  It is especially beneficial when this perfectionism can be dialed up and down like a thermostat.  Now, I am not going to send my daughter out in a Bolger Bobcat that looks terrible and is painted pink with purple polka dots.  When my daughter says to people that she and her Dad built it, I want her to be proud of the beautiful boat we made, but I am not going to be quite as critical of the appearance if I was, for example, building a boat for a customer.

The goal of the perfectionist in boat building is to get as close to that demarcation of perfection as your abilities permit (or as is required) without letting perfectionism significantly slow your progress or ruin your experience.

 

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