Boat Building With Pops: A Story from Richard Honan

Boat Building with Pops

TotalBoat Ambassador, Richard Honan, has been sending us updates of his most recent boat building project, a 13′ Peapod. Richard is a talented (and award-winning) artist, woodworker, and retired signmaker who has invited his young neighbor and his 2 granddaughters into his basement woodshop to assist with the build of this most recent boat. His story really spoke to us during these unusual times when we are sticking close to home, looking for meaningful connections to projects, and to our past and future generations.  Read Richard’s story that he sent us about his passion as a boat builder and grandfather who can’t help but share his skill and enthusiasm with these lucky young adults.  

Richard Honan: At this point in my life,(I’m seventy-two) I’m very fortunate to have such a rewarding hobby as building wooden boats. It’s something that I dreamed about doing when I was younger. As luck would have it, when I retired, my nephew, Matthew Honan let me have the use of his woodworking shop located in the cellar of the sign company. It’s a woodworkers dream shop, table saw, band saw, drill press, compound sliding miter saw, four routers and numerous cordless drills and sanders.

Even before I retired from my career as a sign company owner, I had begun building small wooden boats, sailing prams, canoes, and kayaks. Most of the time, I would be fabricating or building the boat by myself. Often I would enlist the help of my brothers, son-in-law, or nephews in the construction process. I have found the most rewarding time is spent with young children, such as my neighbor, Christian Buonopane, or my granddaughters, Anna Rauseo and Emily Rodriguez, who are eager to learn about woodworking and boatbuilding.

They seem to enjoy the work and learning. Christian started with me when he was thirteen years old. One day, he was walking home and I asked him what he did after school and whether he would like to help me build a boat. It’s now been over two years and he has been an integral part of the 13’00” Peapod building process. Even at thirteen years old, Christian was able to help me estimate how many hundreds of linear feet of bead and cove strips we would need to build the hull. He has learned about safety, fasteners, how to mix and apply epoxy, along with the proper use of power tools.


My granddaughters, Anna and Emily joined me on a regular basis about two or three months ago. Last week, we laid out the shapes for the bow and stern seats. Afterward, I was comparing our dimensions of the seats to the dimensions in the Doug Hylan’s plans. I realized there was a mistake and for the life of me, I couldn’t find it. I tried to explain it to my granddaughters. They asked me how to read the plans. I showed them how to read the plans and explained how to use a scale ruler. Within a couple of minutes, they showed me my mistake. That was a great morning, having Anna and Emily learn how to read a boat building plan and also how to read a scale ruler. It was the best mistake I ever made! Second to none!

Whether any of the three ever builds another boat remains to be seen, but I hope they will all treasure the time we spent together, learning about boat building and each other.

You can (and should) go “follow” Richard on his Facebook page where he posts his building progress, pics of his amazing art pieces and prizes, his dog is heavily featured, as are his exploits like the mid-winter snow row off Hull, MA and oh yeah, just about every sunrise from nearby Yirrell Beach captured and shared on his page.  Follow along with this talented maker and boat builder who we are proud to call a friend and a satisfied customer.

13 responses to “Boat Building with Pops

  1. Always enjoy a story about such a talented, dedicated and patriotic man!
    It was a wonderful story about Rich being a good teacher, proud GrandFather and penultimate Dog Whisperer! Thanks for posting!!

  2. Richard always has been and continues to be a master woodworker. I remember being impressed with his skills when he first started the sign shop. I believe that it was because of his obvious skills that the demand for wood signs was reborn around Boston. The big plus is that he’s a really nice person. Nice write up Richie!

  3. Richard Honan is the person we should all strive to be….talented, generous, hard working by all accounts , he is a wonderful father, grandfather and friend..I wish I knew him better..I only spent a few hours with him helping to prepare packages he sends to our troops…but in that short time and following him on facebook…I came away totally impressed…he is the best!

  4. An excellent story, Richard. I love the fact that you are teaching young people the value of the trades. There is no better feeling of making something from nothing. I hope from a hobbyist perspective, these youngsters continue to enjoy and employ the experience they’ve shared with you.

  5. One of the BEST,
    Rich is never at a loss for things to do or people to help. A talented artist, sign carver, veteran, photographer, and great example to all grandfathers! He never ceases to amaze me especially when he sends the packages to the young men and women serving in the military who are far from home! Fair winds and following seas.

  6. I’ve been wondering what you were doing in the basement. Now I know.
    Now how are you going to get it out of there…

  7. This is so cool I would like to build a wooden boat one day. I love build I with my pawpaw and dad.
    Annalee Stevens
    Annie’s Woodworks

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