Our warehouse and gazebo are full of boats–no place to store them–so it’s time to build a traditional Norwegian boat-shed, called a Naust.  Looking in the opposite direction you have one of the most beautiful little sloughs in Alaska and a perfect place to launch boats.

Location 3

We first put in creosoted pilings begin hauling lumber.  First the pilings:

Creosote Pilings

This is all that’s left after redoing our harbors here in Petersburg.  These wouldn’t even float, so I tied buoys on each end to tow them across the Narrows.    I select about a dozen and get out the shovel.


Here’s the site cleared and surveyed at a 19.5′ tide–the corner post is set at the 14′ tide–we’ll get almost 22′ at times so there’s plenty of water.

Placing Pilings

Lumber gets floated across the narrows and we dig holes in the ground–these graveled out at about 30″ on average.  We filled the bottoms with rock, buttered the cut ends with Penta (found an old 5 gallon can of this) and back-filled with more rock–a grid of 3 X 4 or 12 total pilings.  The lumber rests on mid-day weaker tides–so I utilize an old climbing rope, a jumar and a weighted bucket to float it closer at the 2 am higher tide–no point in getting out of bed.  It’s 10′ closer to the job-site in the morning.


Here they’re all in with temporary bracing.

Tibo Towing

Now it’s time for lumber–lots of it.  Here Tibo, our friend from France, and I plunk the lumber in the Narrows and 1/2 hour later, it’s where it’s supposed to be.

Crane Work

We get it into the Narrows by using this handy device–a 2 1/2 T crane.  All this lumber is hand mortise & tenon and will all go together in about half a day.  Read on…..

M & T 2

Here is how these joints look up close–all dove-tailed together–which will take about half a day to assemble…’s more:

M & T 4

The building is 18′ X 36′ but the mill only cuts 20′ lengths so this necessitates joints, and these fit!

M & T 1

The design is all self supporting, using oak tree-nails (“trunnels”) only–no nails!


Back to the building site.  We mill 6″ X 8″ for the sill beams; at 20′ in length, they weigh approximately 300 lbs.  Crossing this will be 2″ X 8″ floor joists and then 1-1/4″ X 8″ flooring–all yellow cedar and spruce and free–each Alaska resident gets 10,000 board feet per year with the stipulation, they have to log it out and cannot sell the lumber, but use it for personal use.  See the logging here.

Rain Barrel

This is a little spin-off for some of the shorter pieces of cedar–had 6 of these made at Kachemak Cooperage in Anchorage for water catchment.  If we pump water for the garden, it has an energy price-tag.  This method, time tested, is free.


Our spiny friend shows up again this year–and tackles all the salmon berry bushes.  We find his quills all over the boardwalk and save them in a hand-woven basket.  Next week, the floor and frame–stay tuned!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email