The time has finally come to launch my latest guideboat, the Thankful. I have chosen the name in honor of one of the most accomplished guideboat builders, Caleb Judson Chase. Chase was born the youngest of six children in 1830 in Ticonderoga, NY. Soon after he was born his father died and his mother remarried. This may have influenced his decision to leave home as a young teenager to join his brother Cheney in Newcomb, NY. There the two of them operated a sawmill and Caleb began to farm. Over time he learned a number of trades including gunsmithing, guiding and boat building.
He began building boats in 1850 at age 21 and continued to do so for fifty years. He was quite successful in this endeavor and it allowed him to build a family compound on Rich Lake that included an attractive home, a workshop, paint shop, an ice house and 88 acres of productive farm land. He and his wife, Thankful, raised seven children.
He was an innovator and realized that guideboats could be made lighter and would ride better in the water if they were double-ended rather than square-ended. Soon other builders began making their boats double-ended. The transition to double-ended guideboats was complete by about 1870.
Chase was the builder of the Queen Anne, Anna Pruyn’s favorite guide boat. Robert and Anna Pruyn were the builders of Great Camp Santanoni. They particularly loved wooden boats and had as many as eight guideboats at various locations on their 12,000 acre Great Camp property. I have reproduced the Queen Anne three times now with the Thankful being the latest of those.
An acknowledgement of chase’s mastery of building guideboats appeared in the September, 1901 issue of Field and Stream, “No Adirondacker of the old school but knows the old boat builder of Newcomb, at least by reputation, for the famous “Chase boat” has for for over fifty years been regarded as the most perfect type of woodman’s craft built or used in the North Woods…”
As a tribute to Chase I have decided to name my latest boat after his wife, Thankful, and to launch my boat on his beloved Rich Lake. Rich Lake is off Route 28 N just as you approach Newcomb. Although it is not far off the “beaten track” only those who are aware of its presence can find it. The lake has a marvelous sandy beach that gently slopes so that you have to go many strides to find deep water.
July 2nd is a beautiful late spring day in the Adirondacks, perfect for launch day. There is a brisk breeze from the northwest that bids you wear a light jacket to stay comfortable. We hook up the boat with its trailer and head for Newcomb. My son Stewart is again with me for this launch as he was 18 years ago for the launching of my first boat, the Frances C. This time he brings his two children Paige, age 13 and Evan, age 16.
Here, we have arrived and are preparing for the launch.
Stewart and I carry her to the waters edge and in she goes.
So off we go on her maiden voyage. What fun!
I hand the boat over to Stewart who is soon racing about with his mom and kids.
So all good things must come to an end. We haul Thankful out and find that she has taken on a little water. We choose to believe that most of it was was dragged in from everyone getting in for a ride. It is certainly not enough to be concerned about.
Next time; Straps and Horns.