If I Can Do It
Anyone Can

But I consider myself to be the ultimate amateur, not just because I lacked boating experience, but also because I had almost no woodworking skills, either, let alone experience with fiberglass, marine hardware, fittings and processes!

Jubilee was built almost exclusively with hand tools, along with an electric drill and jigsaw. I didn't purchase my first bench-type power tool, a table saw, until the basic hull structure was already completed.

Nonetheless, I believe she turned out well, due mostly to the excellence of the design and completeness of the plans that I purchased from Glen-L Marine Designs of Bellflower, Calif.

Actually, building Jubilee led to my involvement in the Auxiliary.

Despite the lack of experience, I took to building with a passion, but I soon realized that if I ever actually finished the vessel, I would have to operate it. And I had no idea how to do that!

So, I took an online boating course, which described something called a Courtesy Marine Examination, offered by something called the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Not only did I decide that arranging for one of these CMEs would be a good idea, but also that this Coast Guard Auxiliary merited further investigation.

As my "boat eyes" developed, I became very much aware that people in my neighborhood who had boats rarely used them. Most of these poor vessels had long grass growing beneath them. I imagined that many of them were filled with years of rainwater and snow-melt.

With all the time, money and passion I was investing in Jubilee, I did not want her to end up the same way.

I realized that the Auxiliary was a way to keep both of us busy on the water, and so I soon became a member of Flotilla 87 D8WR.

Actually, Jubilee's qualifications in the Auxiliary outpaced my own, early in our careers. She was certified as an Operational Facility before I was qualified to be her coxswain. I eventually caught up, however, and we have enjoyed many fun and useful hours on the rivers of our area.

My wife eventually joined the Auxiliary as well, and so we have boat, coxswain and crew member all together in one place, ready to go when needed.

If I were to build a boat today with our local Auxiliary missions in mind, I probably would construct something larger. She seems a bit crowded with more than two aboard, even though her official capacity is five.

Nevertheless, Jubilee is very much at home on the rivers here in west-central Illinois, and her small size and shallow draft allow us to get into tight places that other boats might not be able to negotiate.

Of course, no boat is every truly "finished," and this is especially true of amateur-built ones.

Every spring since she was launched in 2002, I have had a list of refit items that I want to accomplish, some of them major.

April, 2005 brought the design and installation of a fixed fuel system with a 19-gallon tank. In 2006, I added a console for the left-seat occupant so I could add windshields for both. Jubilee's top speed of about 23 knots does not make them essential, but they will make the ride a bit more comfortable.

They'll also double as Asian Carp guards, providing at least a bit of protection against one of us being struck by our inland version of the flying fish.

Building, operating, maintaining and upgrading Jubilee has been one of the most gratifying and confidence-building experiences of my life. If you are looking for a fun "rainy day" or winter project, think about building a boat yourself.

And if you're not sure you'll be successful, remember this: If I can do it, anyone can!

If you would like to view the article as it appeared in "The Navigator", along with the rest of the magazine, see: http://www.auxadept.org/navigator/2007WINTER.pdf. It's a rather large file and can take a while to download, even with a high-speed connection (the copy is the same as appears here, with a few less photos).

Kurt's website