Karol (pronounced Karl) Neumann has always been a fan of boating and history.
As such, he has long wanted to build his own boat, one with a historical influence. So, about four years ago, he started doing just that.
Then, on June 27th, Neumann held a gathering with friends and family to take the boat out of the garage he constructed it in and launch it on Lacombe Lake. Prior to launching the boat, he said he was a bit nervous about whether or not it would work.
Being a complete novice shipwright, Neumann said he wasn’t even sure if his creation would float. However, he said he has fairly extensive experience in residential construction and did a lot of research on how to build a boat before starting.
“I know how to connect wood to wood,” he said, laughing.
Neumann added he consulted a lot of experts while building the boat.
“They predicted there is a chance it might float,” he said, again with a laugh. “That’s good enough for me.”
Despite his concerns, Neumann said no issues were found with the ship once it was launched.
He said they spent the night on the lake and didn’t find so much as a leak.
“It was quite surprising actually.”
Now that he knows the vessel is water-worthy, Neumann plans to use it mostly on the Red Deer River.
He said he is thinking about spending weekends on the river in the boat fishing with his wife, Crystal and sons, Sambor (Sam), five and Tomir (Tommy), three.
While Karol is not sure how many hours of work were put into the construction of the vessel, he said it would probably have taken him about a month to build had he worked on it consistently each day.
However, building the craft was a hobby for him so he did it over the course of four years, working on it whenever he felt inspired to. He added that a lot of that time was spent figuring out the logistics of the project with his friends and neighbours who assisted him.
“Most of the time, we were just standing there head-scratching,” said Karol.
The most difficult part of the process was flipping the boat around. To begin the initial structure, he had started building the board upside-down. When it came time to flip it around, the boat had already become quite heavy and difficult to maneuver inside Karol’s two-car garage.
“It was quite an achievement, we ended up with just the one hole in the wall but it could have been much worse.”
In contrast, Karol’s favourite part of the job was painting. He said it was an enjoyable process that his sons as well as some boys from a youth group at a Red Deer church Karol is a part of could help out with.
Twenty-six feet long and seven feet wide, Karol said the craft is basically a giant canoe, having no power and resembling the shape of the ancient Viking sailing vessels.
While the boat is certainly not a Viking replica and Karol never meant for it to be one, he did say that he was certainly inspired by the Viking design while building it.
Having no engine save the energy of its occupants, the ship is propelled solely by oars and is steered with a wooden rudder. Karol has designed the ship so that a mast can be installed later if he decides to try out some sailing.
Although he has only just gotten his first boat in the water, Karol said he already has plans in his head for a second project that will also be a water vessel. However, he said he might have to hold off on them for a while as Crystal is very happy to have the garage free again.
In addition to the Viking-esque boat, Karol also enjoys crafting medieval weaponry and armour.
He even made a set of shields to go on the sides of his ship.