In the end one might think the entire project was a boring undertaking. And why not. Who would expect anything other than perfection from a master of his craft. Dan is a man of uncommon dedication to the most mundane of tasks.
This, the latest undertaking of Dan and Kim Haig, came to fruition a few days ago with little or no fanfare. Instead, the enterprise, the rebuilding of a classic piece of marine history, ended with a few ripples and the gentle setting of the keel into the Bay of Quinte.
Sea Lark, a 27-foot Chriscraft motor cruiser, began its association with the Haigs' many years ago when Dan conceived the idea that a semi-derelict circa 1930s luxury boat could be restored. Fortified by imagination, he bought the hulk and had it hauled to his home. Its keel was warped from improper storage and its once proud mahogany cabin was peeling worse than a kid after a day at the beach. Its chrome work, engine, fittings and cabin interior were in equally sad repair.
The first time I saw Sea Lark, their name not mine, I quipped that it would make an excellent planter. Kim was not amused and Dan agreed with her. A few months later I saw it again and reluctantly began to envision the dream.
With the same methodology and dogged determination he had used when building their home, Dan continued to work and remake where the vast majority of us would have quit, burned the damned thing.
As in all projects, surprises were never far away. The engine proved to be beyond repair and had to be replaced. It was just one of countless items to be dealt with as he progressed throughout six years, season through season.
Because of the countless fiddly little things that go into such an undertaking, the majority of people who saw the boat on a regular basis never really recorded his progress.
Only when the paint work, preparing of the boat's bottom was too obvious to miss did it seem Dan just might pull this massive undertaking off.
I had a vague idea the end was near earlier this summer when Dan and Kim visited us. He was a bit vague about the boat, its completion and launch date. Perhaps he did not know himself. After six years, one tends to get a bit touchy when badgered about such things.
Recently, after a two-week holiday, I returned to my computer, opened the e-mail and was confronted by a colour photo of Sea Lark in the water and under way. She sure can throw up a mean bow wave,
Of course, there was a clutch of people aboard waving for the camera. In every photo and from all angles it was obvious this is a motor cruiser that intends to make waves, an example of excellence in design and nautical pleasure.
It may be Sea Lark will be on display in Muskoka, where mahogany boats of bygone eras ply the sparkling blue waters next summer. Then again she may simply grace the Bay of Quinte. It makes no difference. She floats.
There is but one minor drawback to all this. Dan is a touch pensive. Seems he is now without a project and is only at his best when testing his varied talents.
Whatever his next undertaking will be, it will not be small. Dan relishes a challenge. It is a good thing that HMCS Bonaventure, Canada's only aircraft carrier, is unavailable, has been relegated to history.