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Final preparations

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

I took the canoe frame, and the huge increasingly pungent skins with me to the Bushcraft show. The frame was much admired... The stench of the skins less so.

Had already been laboriously fleshed, soaked in lye and mostly dehaired. The soaking took around 3 days of reasonabley warm weather to loosen most of it. Irritatingly there were still patches that refused to budge, and I decided to admit defeat on those in preference to keeping the grain intact. ( As it happens after three days in various ponds/ buckets/ soggy piles under sunwarmed tarps the remaining hair was much easier to remove.)

At the show the skins were put in the pond ( under cover of darkness as I wasn't sure I should be doing so :p ) and finished neutralizing after their stint in strong lye to loosen the hair. The following day i managed to find a few hours (and a few more hands) to start the sewing. On this occasion I opted for a modern thread- Dacron, though sinew and gut both work.

It was interesting to think about how a seam could have been achieved with ancient tools. The seam I used is close to some of those used by the Inuit to make Quayaks etc... But I admit I struggle to see how the clever ' sewing through half the thickness ' bit might've been achieved with bone or possibly flint awls. I would like to see whether a simple saddle stitch in fine rawhide would work; the thread expanding to fill the holes as it soaks up water, but perhaps not on these particular boats.....

Anyway; the sewing was finished earlier this evening with help from Mum, and the joined skins have been draped over the hides. I was pleasantly surprised by how much hide we had left. Had I wanted to I could have made the boat maybe 1-2ft longer.

We rested the canoe, (now looking much more plausible) on a couple of odd pallets liberated from a neighbor up at the workshop.. ( its like room of requirement i swear!)

With the hides draped and trimmed,I began wrapping the excess over the gunwale and tying it to one of the various bits of available bits of hazel. With the weather turning unhelpfully wet drying the boat was a struggle and i resorted to building a small ( very small) fire underneath it ( still raised on pallets, and screened with tarps to keep the wind out) and driving off the moisture the hard way.

Other preparations are a bit behind, but I have good amount of food prepared- fruit leathers, pemmican, and dried fish. Some of it is the lingon berry, blueberry stuff I dried in Sweden back in 2019 on a rack entirely made from natural materials.

We will also forage a bit along the way. And while I can't actually use any of my primitive fishing paraphernalia, I will take it for display purposes.

We will also have to make some concessions to modernity on the fire front. Though we will be cooking in a pottery vessel, we will have to us a firepit some of the time at least. I also plan to take a decent selection of wooden trough bowls etc for food prep etc.

The boat also needs a name... Wattleboat, and manatee ( see cow :p) are in the running, as is Tory ( because it reeks, positively drips corruption and decay...:p) bit think I'll leave the boat free from such an unsavoury title....

If anyone has any suggestions?

Now sat in A&E picking up precautionary antibiotics to deal with a couple of nasty infections in my hands- fairly expected when grotty hides meet sharp needles, but annoying nonetheless.

Be sure to follow the adventure on here, and on @memmathecavewoman on Facebook and Instagram. And checkout Theresa's Gofundme!

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