Local man crafts canoe built for comfort, safety

MADAWASKA, Maine — Jeff Albert began dreaming about building his own canoe 20 years ago. Last winter, he fulfilled his dream and is now able to take his grandson out on the river in the canoe he built with his own two hands.

“I first fell in love with these freighters in northern Quebec,” Albert said. “Always wanted to build one that had a stable body that could be easily maneuvered in water.

“Wood canoes have so many maintenance issues, and I wanted to make something that was fiberglass,” he said. “So I asked myself, how could I make it? What would I put in there to make it better, make it different?”

The canoe has many features, including spray rails that prevent water from coming into the vessel. Albert said he tried to keep the design as close to the traditional canoe as possible, but with updated features for safety and comfort.

“It’s big enough to catch a muskie,” said Paxton Abbot, Albert’s grandson, referring to the three-foot fish he caught earlier.

The inside of the canoe is fiberglass and the seats are made of ash, though Albert said he would be going with a different wood in the future due to potential impact from the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has found its way to Maine.

The bottom of the canoe has a rock protection to help in shallow water and a flat bottom to walk around on.

Albert rocked the boat for a moment before he said, “We can dance on here if you want. It’s not going to flip.”

The water only needs to be about eight inches deep, according to Albert:  “Just deep enough for the motor to function.”

He said his craft will handles waters both shallow and rough. He hopes to begin production on more canoes later this summer.

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