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Boatbuilder preserves maritime history

A wooden-boat builder is continuing a time-honored tradition by documenting the plans for a trio of Lake Superior wooden boats - a lighthouse tender and two fish tugs.

Musicians rely on sheet music and travelers follow maps.

"Boatbuilders have these," says wooden-boat builder Garry Couch, pointing to a set of drawings by "the grandmaster of it all," Howard I. Chapelle, a mid-20th century naval architect and curator of maritime history at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The drawings are of an 1880 Newfoundland seal-hunting skiff, a boat Couch happens to be planking at the moment from plans preserved by the Smithsonian. Chapelle took the lines off the boat - meaning he got the measurements - in 1950, a year after Couch was born. "And now I'm making that boat," Couch says.

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