Working on her deck over the course of a summer, Diane used marine-grade plywood to build the boat, while the mast, boom, rudder and some other parts were made out of treated pine.

When buying a boat wasn’t an option, Sunrise Beach resident Diane Crowder began exploring the possibility of making one. In 2002 she purchased a Lake home with her partner Margaret Lieb, but wanted to spend more time out on the water.

“Many years ago my sister had a sailboat and I always loved to sail with her,” Diane said. “When we got the Lake house, we really couldn’t afford to buy a boat since we had two mortgages to pay. I saw a book on building your own boat with plywood and thought the idea was interesting.”

Diane’s 50 years of experience building furniture came in handy and so did her creativity as a fiber artist. She already owned all of the woodworking tools needed so she purchased a copy of the book “Instant Boatbuilding” and selected the simplest sailboat in the book — the Cartopper.

Following the directions in the book she made a model first to figure out how it went together and also purchased a full-size paper pattern for the pieces.

Working on her deck over the course of a summer, Diane used marine-grade plywood to build the boat, while the mast, boom, rudder and some other parts were made out of treated pine.

“The design and instructions (in the book) are meant for a single person to do it, and it went remarkably well,” Diane said, although occasionally Margaret would help. After cutting out the parts, special marine nails and epoxy had to be used to put them together.

“For me, the worst part was working with the epoxy, which gets very hot and has to be used within 10 minutes of mixing,” Diane said. After the boat was together, she epoxied fiberglass cloth to the exterior, which required careful handling. Once it was dry, it was sanded and she moved onto finishing the interior decks before mounting the mast. There were other steps long the way to complete the project which took about six weeks from start to finish. The boat spans 11’6” long and 4’ wide in the center. The total cost was about $1,000. 

Since her sister is an experienced sailor she showed Diane the ropes. The boat can be sailed by just one person and can hold another adult or a couple of children. It weighs about 100 pounds and fits in the back of a pickup truck so no trailer is needed. There is a box seat which makes it great for rowing and is convenient when using the trolling motor.

Diane said that since their house sits in a narrow cove she added a trolling motor to be able to take it out to the wider part of the cove to set sail. Unfortunately due to back problems Diane didn’t use the sailboat much and today has it listed on Craigslist. She chooses instead to enjoy the Lake in their 20’ tritoon or PWC.

“I really wish I were able to sail her,” Diane said. “She was so much fun to build and is such a cute boat. Sailing is an exhilarating experience, very different from motorized boating. It feels like you are flying on the surface of the water.”

Before boating

A former professor of French and Women’s Studies at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, Diane always enjoyed sewing, crocheting and quilting. She took a weaving class in the ‘80s, purchased a loom in 1992 and has been weaving since then, specializing in clothing.

Upon moving to the Lake she joined the Lake Area Fiber Arts Guild and spent four years working on the Handweavers Guild of America’s Certificate of Excellence Level 1 which she obtained in 2012. In 2016 she received her certification as a Master Weaver and has a shop on Etsy named CraneCoveCreations.

She will also be attending the Lake Area Fiber Arts Festival being held Oct. 14 at the Community Christian Church in Camdenton. She also teaches weaving and takes orders for special items.