Saga of the Boat Shed
by Barrett Faneuf

The adventure begins

One of the best things about my house is the great side yard. It practically screamed to have a boat built in it. Originally intended as RV parking, a previous owner had gravelled the area for parking his tractor trailer engine. The overall space is over 35 feet long, 20+ feet wide, and basically empty of troubling things like septic fields or water lines. It has an 8-foot wide gate at the road side. After determining with John Welsford what shed size Nighean would need, I set to work. Strongback posts were sunk, and the beginnings of a workspace were laid out.

The Building Site
It looks so innocent... now.
(click to enlarge)

The Tarp Shed

It was SUCH a good idea. I needed about 30 x 16 feet for Nighean, with 10 feet overhead to turn her. After a good deal of web-surfing, I found the answer. A nice gambrel-roof tarp shed kit, the type where the supplier sends the tarp, fittings, etc, and the buyer buys metal electrical conduit and sets it up. The whole shebang cost less than $1000, which was just dandy. If I had all things in life, I would add a permanent addition to the house, but that's pretty pricey and I decide to use the tarp shed for now, and upgrade later when funds are more available. I had the tarp shed set up right on time for the fall rains to arrive. I was so happy. Winters are pretty mild up here in Washington state, with 99.9% rain, and an occasional dusting of snow. The shed can handle that just fine. Famous last thoughts.

The Tarp Shed
I look so happy. It's tragic.
(click to enlarge)

Thanksgiving Fun

I blithely counted on more winters like I had experienced before. I was wrong. We had 6 inches of snow before Thanksgiving. This partially collapsed the shed. I don't have any pictures of this little calamity, I was planning on sweeping it under the rug. Michael's parents came out for Thanksgiving, and his dad Jim is a fellow engineer. He took it upon himself to help fix the shed, for which I will forever be grateful. He sorted out the bent pipes, rammed reinforcing black iron through the roof beams (gah!), and suggested guy wire reinforcement. We both installed that, and in the end the shed was better than new.

"This will take that snow again!" I thought confidently.

Mother Nature Trumps Engineers

Apparently incensed by our reinforcing of the humble tarp shed, winter let us have it. Relatively speaking (for the Pacific Northwest). Six more inches of snow, followed by rain to get gleefully absorbed by the snow, then more snow. It shut down lots of stuff. It crushed the shed with ease. My only consolation is that I had moved the Navigator parts into the shop to dry out after the last storm.

The Ex-Tarp Shed
This picture taken after I have spend a while clearing up the site in the pouring rain. Yeah, it sucked.
(click to enlarge)


Well, it's January and too rainy to do anything outside. I clean up the site amid much cursing and feeling sorry for myself. I work in the shop as much as I can on the Navigators, and put off outside stuff 'till it dries out a bit. I try to figure out what to do next. The urban area I live in requires a building permit for any structure over 120 square feet. "Temporary" doesn't matter. No, I didn't have a permit for the first shed, it wouldn't have passed, look what it got me. I find I can't put up a bow-roof shed without having an engineering stamp on it. Sigh. Okay, fine. I draw up the permanent addition to the house as a pole-built oversized carport. It passes the Plans Examiner. Guess I will be making a "real" addition after all. I can't really afford it, but I don't really see a better option, as I'm not willing to work without cover. I'll pay for it out-of-pocket as I can, and do as much work myself as possible.

The first post goes up
(click to enlarge)

Building the Real Shed

I don't have many pictures of the building process. It took a couple months, and most times I was simply too exhausted to take pictures. And besides, most of us know how conventional structures go together. The only novel-ish things were the weird ways I got stuff like trusses 10 feet into the air by myself. It involved a lot of rope and climbing up and down ladders. The only things which reflected in visual form the effort I put in were my legs, with bruises, cuts and other indignities, but a picture of those would be just... gross. So just imagine a lot of sweat and cursing, 'k?

Comealong provides the muscle
(click to enlarge)

The Poles Go Up

A "pole built" building around here is one built on 6x6 inch posts sunk 4 feet into the ground and backfilled with concrete. Since the frost line doesn't exist, I presume that's for earthquake protection. I dug the 4 holes with a shovel and digging bar. Those of you from rocky climes may wince (as I did before starting, from my Maine years), but it wasn't too bad. The topsoil is 3 feet deep, with nary a rock, then it turs to sand from ancient river bed. It was far from fun, but I preferred the shovel to an auger that would have made an ungodly mess. Besides, an 18-inch auger would be truck-mounted, and I'd have to take down the fence, squash the roses, yadda yadda.

The poles are 14 feet long, I got a couple up with a good ol' swinging tripod built from scrap and a comealong. But it was really slow, and the concrete truck was coming. So I bribed Micheal to help me and we heaved the other 2 up in a couple minutes.

(click to enlarge)

Insert Lots of Building

And painting, and hauling, and building, and swearing, and painting, and building, and... you get the idea.

I'll get to painting the rest of the house later.
(click to enlarge)

It's Done!

Not much to say, besides, "Thank goodness THAT's done!" It's gone through a few downpours without leaking. After all the climbing around on/in/over it I did, I think it'll take the snow.

The Real Shed!
Doesn't look too bad. You can see where the old shed collapse plus months of rain and water weight did a number on the strongback rails. (click to enlarge)