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Floating art

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There's something serene about being on the water, especially when your ride is as natural as the scenery.

"They're prettier. Wood speaks to you. Wood is alive," said Phil Pike of Little Creek Canoes and Kayaks.

For the past 13 years, Pike has been building wooden canoes and kayaks in his Greensboro shop.

"They talk about who makes things. Well you know who made that wood? Well he don't make plastic, he makes wood," Pike said.

Pike grew up on a dairy farm where he honed his carpentry skills.

Reporter Gina Bullard: Why boats?

Phil Pike: I don't know. My grandfather says, what's a matter with that boy? Brought up on the sod ground and look at him go! (laughs)

Now his business, Little Creek Canoes and Kayaks, makes custom wooden boats with intricate details that make you stand out on the water.

"I got lucky and was blessed with the way to create one that's really pretty, at least that's what they tell me anyway," Pike said.

Gina Bullard: How do you feel when you're out in the water in one of these?

Phil Pike: I'll tell you, Gina, there's no words. There's no way to express it. It's beyond my comprehension.

The boats are long and ride smoothly through the water. They're suited for any ability level, even beginners like me.

"Wood has been used in boats well before the Egyptians," Pike said. "People had to get on the water and they had wood to work with."

Pike uses a stripping technique with quarter-inch pieces of white cedar, making the boats lightweight and durable.

"That's what monocoque structure is-- there's no framework to hold it, it supports itself. It's like an air frame," Pike explained.

There are at least three coats of epoxy under the fiberglass, so moisture can't get in. It takes hundreds of hours of work to bring each boat to life.

"It's not hard work, it's brain work," Pike said.

The pieces of functional art range from $1,500 to $10,000. Pike once made cheaper canoes, but decided to paddle in a different direction.

"Well the regular people in the Kingdom-- the things they can afford is a Ford pickup with baler's twine in the back and the front seat covered in beer cans. So we moved through that and now we're in the arts side of it," Pike said.

Gliding pieces of art that are Made in Vermont.

"This is what it's about," Pike said. "The creativity and doing something pretty."

For more on Little Creek Kayaks and Canoes -- 802-533-7467

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