Monday, July 1, 2013

Cape Codders Build Handcrafted Kayaks to Raise Money for Affordable Housing

Bill Witmer and Pat Taylor sell a kayak raffle ticket
to a Provincetown visitor. They donate hundreds of
hours of their time to Habitat for Humanity every year.
Have you seen that gorgeous cedar kayak on display in front of Town Hall on Tuesdays? It's the prize in a fundraising raffle for Habitat for Humanity, the non-profit organization that builds affordable housing around the country. There are a couple of Habitat houses on Pearl Street in Provincetown, and I think one on Fritz's Way, too, and this annual raffle helps each year to build more affordable housing right here on Cape Cod.
Stop by Town Hall any Tuesday, or every Tuesday through the end of the summer, and buy a raffle ticket for this stunning kayak. You'll meet Pat Taylor and Bill Witmer, from Harwich, who have been building these beautiful kayaks there every winter since 2003, raffling off a new kayak with a brand new design inlaid into the wood of each one they lovingly build by hand over the off-season every year.
Each kayak takes about 500 hours of labor to build. Each is an "Osprey" model, originally created by renowned boat designer Hans Friedel. The pattern of the inlayed design that decorates each kayak built by Pat and Bill is different for every one they build, making each a unique work of art as well as a very stable and maneuverable craft. The modified V-hull lets these kayaks glide through the water at great speed, leaving very little wake, making the Osprey the perfect choice for navigating ponds, lakes and tidal rivers, as well as calm ocean waters.
Three types of cedar are used in building each boat: Alaskan yellow, northern white, and western red. This combination creates a durable vessel of light weight and great strength, ready to carry you easily out to Long Point and beyond. This kayak is 16 feet long, 24 inches wide, and weighs just 45 pounds, which is around 15 to 20 pounds lighter than a typical plastic kayak of this size. Each joint is beaded and coved, and joined with wood glue. The entire kayak is then coated inside and out with fiberglass cloth and four coats of epoxy, followed by four coats of varnish, making it handsome as well as strong. There's a beautiful decorative design inlaid by hand around the entire craft, which will be valued at about $5,500 by the time it's finished.
This summer marks ten years that Pat and Bill have been building these kayaks and carrying each one to spots all around Cape Cod on a regular circuit of events and locations that draw a lot of visitors over each summer. Tuesday is their day to visit Provincetown every week during the season, raising money and awareness for affordable housing issues on the Cape.
For a mere $2 raffle ticket, you could be the winner of this exquisite watercraft, which will be delivered locally by Pat and Bill, or shipped free of charge anywhere in the continental US if the winner lives outside the local area. So make it a point to stop by Town Hall on Tuesdays over the summer and pick up a raffle ticket or two, or get six at a time for just ten dollars. You won't miss a few dollars out of your pocket, and it could make all the difference in the world for someone who finally gets a permanent place to call home, and you could be spending the rest of your summers paddling across Provincetown Harbor and out into Cape Cod Bay in your beautifully handcrafted kayak. Bon voyage!


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