Steve Benz, New England Chapter

One evening in the summer of 2020, Cheryl and I were sitting on our deck looking out over Lake Opechee, NH and our neighbor waved to us from his 1953 Lyman runabout. She turned to me and said “You should build us a wooden boat”.

Why not, since we had recently retired and I was virtually addicted to watching wooden boat builds on YouTube! Thus began my boatbuilding journey.

I selected a Glen-L design, the 14’-4” ZIP runabout. I used white oak for frames, chines and sheer clamps, and marine mahogany plywood for the hull and subdecks. The carlins, dash panels and cabin elements are all African mahogany and the deck and cover boards are made up of mahogany, sapele, and inlaid aspen. The construction went smoothly and quickly

I began working on Old’s Cool on Labor Day, and by Thanksgiving I had the hull completed, epoxied, fiberglassed, and painted– ready to break free from the building forms and turn her over. However, just after our “boat flip” party it was time to shut down construction due to the cold New Hampshire winter settling into my garage “boathouse”!

The winter provided ample time to source the remaining components, and I kept myself busy planning out the remaining build. In March, “Mud Season” left me plenty of time to resume the build. By Memorial Day 2021, the brand new 40 HP Mercury 4-stroke was installed and we were ready to go. The rainy holiday weekend would not delay the long-awaited launch. Cheryl christened the boat and we were off!

After some fine tuning, Old’s Cool handles like a dream, and we can bop along at about 35 MPH on a good day. She has plenty of power to tow the grandkids on their tubes too. She’s perfect for our little lake, although we easily trailer her to the nearby “big” lakes on a regular basis.

I had the time of my life building Old’s Cool, and I have really enjoyed our time on the lake since then. All in, I estimate that it took me about 700 hours and 5 months of build time (although a lot of that time was waiting for epoxy to set!). Folks often ask me “Would you build it again?” I say, “YES! Do you want one???“


  1. This is really in the spirit of vintage boating and should convince many handy newbies that it can take less than a years work to create a really pretty boat..

    • Thanks Gene, Yes I agree that most folks should consider building a boat within their reach. And if one has the interest, time and resources, it doesn’t have to take years!

  2. That is a beautiful boat! Thank you for sharing. It must have taken real focus to get that done in such a short time. My Squirt took 3-1/2 years.. I am building a Barrelback now. One year in.
    I think I need to retire.

    • Thanks for your kind comments David,

      Cheryl calls it the boat that COVID built. Being retired during COVID certainly helped shorten the build timeline.

      Good luck with the Barrelback. It’d be my next build if I had the garage space and if our little lake was larger!

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