the important thing
The only master marine carpenter in Gers, Marc Vuilliomenet launched a wooden canoe this Tuesday, November 14, in Troncens (Gers). A prototype he made with his own hands using local species.
At the beginning of the week it hovered like the air of an Indian summer over the valleys of the Gers. Against a postcard background, with the interweaving of wooded areas turning orange and clearing, and the Pyrenees mountains on the horizon, the sun’s rays glimmered on the lacquered mahogany slats that adorn the latest addition to the Troncens shipyard: a wooden canoe. Its launch took place this Tuesday, November 14.
The culmination of a month of hard work for Marco Vuilliomenet. “That represents 160 hours of work,” snaps the master marine carpenter. From drawing the plan, to assembling 200 long meters of Douglas fir slats (which make up the ship’s hull, editor’s note), to painting, to marketing, the 60-year-old did everything with his own hands. In front of the media this Tuesday, he is taking the veil off his latest creation.
However, there is no mention of urination. The responsibility of testing the boat fell to Guillaume Dumora, a canoe instructor at the Plaisance du Gers Kayaking Club. Anything but a leap into the unknown. “I went into the water 3-4 days ago to find out exactly where the water line is. And a month ago, Guillaume came to find out where we put the bench, because the reconciliation of comfort and stability of the canoe depends on the centimeter,” explains Marc Vuilliomenet, who started his business in 1988.
“He has incredible skating”
After putting on his equipment – shorts and a long-sleeved T-shirt are enough – the experimenter gladly takes the canoe under his arm and puts it in the water. “It weighs 35 kg (for a length of 3.70 m, editor’s note). This is less than a Canadian canoe, which weighs close to 40 kg. But for transport, it is always better that it is as light as possible. The idea was that the user could put it on the roof of the car,” confides the designer. After a moment of hesitation about the seat placement, it is denied on the artificial lake, under the watchful eye of the ship’s master carpenter. The water line, the balance of the boat… Marc Vuilliomenet analyzes the behavior of canoes on the water.
In the middle of the lake, like poison in the water, the canoe instructor continues paddling and maneuvering on the artificial lake built by the owner of the space below the shipyard. His first impressions did not take long to convince the master carpenter, always alert on the pontoon. “He has incredible skating (…). It doesn’t require a lot of energy,” says Guillaume Dumora. “It seems that there are no changes (…). Maybe because I often knock on wood?”, says Marc Vuilliomenet calmly and with a smile on his face.
From 5000 to 6550 euros
With a discerning eye, Guillaume Dumora does not point out a flaw, but a way to improve. “Compared to the kneeling position, we are less stable in the sitting position…” Toe clips should solve the problem. Hence the interest in creating a prototype, which allows Marc Vuilliomenet to learn many lessons… before moving on to the marketing phase. “I make the number 0, which I use for approval, standardization (about ten to respect the canoe, editor’s note) and then I start mass construction. This allows me to develop a construction strategy, because I have a few hours to implement it from the moment of marketing. Number 1 will be a little different to optimize the canoe,” explains the 60-year-old who now has 36 boats, all wooden, built with his own hands. The second one that saw the light of day in Troncens, after “La Clémente” (sailboat 5.50 m long, op.a.).
The only boat builder in Gers wants to create a “pleasure moped”
Future buyers will have the opportunity to choose between canoes in the “paint version” with a budget of 5,000 euros; or a high-end model, with 3 mm thick mahogany lining, waterproof floor, hardware… The bill could then rise to 6,550 euros. “I’m going to change my clothes and now I’m going to wear advertising clothes,” concludes Marc Vuilliomenet with a smile, while several people have already expressed interest in the latest creation of the master naval carpenter.