Zen and the Art of DIY

In one of the best-written and most enjoyable boatbuilding books I’ve read—and I’ve read a few—author and journalist Larry Cheek provides the perfect blend of research and memoir. With little experience of either sailing or woodworking, he decides to build a wooden sailing dinghy from a set of plans by Sam Devlin, a designer of wood/epoxy stitch-and-glue small boats. What follows combines gentle self-deprecating humor with a philosophical account of personal growth. For Cheek, boatbuilding becomes a soul-searching revelation of self, forcing him to confront his flaws while resolving the inevitable crises of any do-it-yourself project. Upon completing his Zephyr, Far from Perfect, Cheek writes, “I think I’m significantly more patient, measurably more methodical, and slightly more courageous than I was on the day when Sam’s plans arrived in the mail. I might be a little better at feeling at peace when I fall short of my own expectations.” Anyone who’s ever felt humbled by a boatbuilding project will appreciate Cheek’s lively account of his boatbuilding foibles.

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