Kelvin Franks says his wife pegs the effort at about $30,000 over four and a half years. He doesn’t think he spent quite that much, and he’s not sure about the amount of time, since he’d occasionally take a month off to do other projects. But he knows what he has today: a 15-foot boat he built from scratch that somebody just offered $80,000 to buy.

“I told him I just finished it—I’m not selling it,” Franks says. “But that was a good note.”

Franks, a retired mechanical engineer who lives in Duson, Louisiana, started building Drift Wood while killing time during consulting work for an oil company. He was surfing online and came across plans for the Glen-L Ski King. He thought it might—with modifications—be a good tender to his 52-foot Harbormaster, Cajun Drifter.

“It had several variations to it, which I pretty much scrapped and did it my way,” Franks says. “But I got the plans from them. I liked the looks and simplicity of it. The design was made for plywood. I did okoume plywood, but then I overlayed that with mahogany planking. I wanted something with more character.”

Drift Wood was the second boat Franks set out to build, a half century after he turned a single sheet of plywood into a “little bateau” for duck hunting in Louisiana as a teenager. By the time he started the mahogany tender, he was in his mid-60s and had gained plenty of experience with boats. He’d worked his way up from a Hobie Sunfish to a Macgregor 22 to an Irwin 40 that he says “was trashed” when he bought it. “The people who owned it had gotten a loan and just quit paying it and left the boat for two years sitting in the marina,” Franks says. “They had a huge party on it before they left it. It took me two weeks just to get it cleaned out.”

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