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And Now the Cork Wood Boats

Gouyaveman 27th April 06
For days, sometimes weeks, one could have observed the fellas on the Lance meticulously carving their piece of Cork Wood with their home-made utility knives to transform that piece of wood into what we have come to know in Gouyave as the “Cork-kood Boat”. The cadence of their work was disturbed only to subject their art to the frequent “eye test” for leverage and symmetry and to ensure that the keel was perfectly centered at the bottom.
The more advanced and skilled artists made use of a vertical line that was drawn from one end of the wood to the other and a horizontal line across in order to determine the curvature of the body of the craft and to form the intersection for installing the Mask.
When the rough outline had finally taken shape, the smoothing process would begin which usually involved the manipulation of a piece of glass to smooth out the contour of the bow and stern, to be followed by the use of a heavily gritted sand-paper and a finer one to finish the product.
Once the smoothing process was completed, it was time to “pour the lead”.
The mold for pouring the lead was made from compacted sand which was dug-out in the form of a “J” with two or three nails with their heads exposed towards the body of the “J” and their points protruding through the sand at the top. The purpose of the nails was to secure/anchor the lead to the keel of the boat, taking time to ensure that it is centered or equidistant between bow and stern.
The molten lead was then poured into the mold to form the ballast. The individual craftsman knew the required depth of the mold that was necessary to provide for proper weight and balance in order to prevent the boat from tilting over.
After fastening the lead to the keel, the boat was then ready for rigging and painting; and it was there where the craftsmen would display their final touches to help differentiate the quality of their work from the others. I remembered the works of Herbert Campbell, Winston (Tan/Durey), Sarda/Doggie, Anslem (the boat builder) and Billy as being worthy enough to be placed in any Museum.
But the Cork Wood Boat would not be placed on any shelf to be viewed with curiosity because it too would be used to satisfy the competitive spirit that had existed among “WE Lance men”; so on a Sunday morning it was time for the **** Wood Boat regatta to begin.
The speed of the boat was never the determining factor for maintaining bragging rights as to which one was faster than the other, but a combination of speed, endurance and the ability to swim was what had separated the boys from the men.
No! one, No! one could have come close to perfecting that combination as Neville (aka Prego) did and when I saw how the now famous Mark Spitz had won seven Gold medals in the 1972 Olympics I could not helped but wondered how he would have fared against Prego swimming Mano a Mano or behind their Cork-kood boats.
Gouyaveman ©