|Sue Spray, DVM
How Sue Came to Build
Canoes and Kayaks
Sue first became interested in building canoes when she read a Popular Mechanics article published in 1990 on building a
cedar strip canoe designed by Kim Aaboe. At the time, she was doing hobby wood working and had won a “Best of Show”
at an alfalfa festival for a Clydesdale rocking horse. The canoe article intrigued her and she tore it out of the magazine and
saved it. Sue had never been in a canoe nor did she have a burning desire to have a canoe to paddle it. Just the thought of
building something that didn’t have a single straight line and was beautifully shaped and intriguing was reason enough to try
her hand at it. She reviewed the article numerous times over the next few years, read it and reread it trying to understand the
terminology of boat building and gauging her skill level to assure a reasonable outcome. She contacted canoe builders and
established relationships with some of the finest canoe builders in the field. She was ready to start her first canoe in 1996 and
it was completed in a little over a year. It is made of cedar, ash and oak. She still has it and occasionally take it out in
waterways around North San Diego County. The next two canoes were built on a commission basis and Canoe #4 was built
specifically for entry into the most prestigious and largest woodworking competition and exhibition in the United States--
"Designs in Wood" in San Diego. The canoe took three of the top four awards and earned Sue respect and recognition as a
top notch fine woodworker.
The natural progression of canoe building for Sue is to expand to other types of small water craft. She is currently working
on a 13 foot open cockpit kayak of Sapele, Wenge, Curly Maple, Ebony and Bloodwood. Estimated completion date is
Summer 2008. Additionally, Sue was fortunate to procure a 1957 Mercury Sabre Runabout 16' mahogany boat to restore.
She is really looking forward to using her boat building skill to create a one of a kind functional powerboat. Watch for photos
as she starts and progresses through this project!