With a Little Help from Our Friends


Or more accurately a lot of help.  In just a few short months things have come such a long way.  Hard to believe there was just grass and dirt here in September…and now we have a Shed.  The road to this point has been quite an emotional menagerie for us both.  We decided to try to do this all ourselves; I am not sure if my cheapskateness or hubris drove this decision, in hindsight it was my ignorance.  Our plan has been to tackle the building, the facility, the materials, and eventually the boat doing as much ourselves as possible.  When I say ourselves what I really mean is that those who we know and care for us the most have rallied around us to support our dream.  Our initial team was Patrick and Jessie and I, but we realized immediately that we knew little to anything about building a building so we called in a few pros to mentor and help us.  We also put out the bat signal and wrangled the free labor of no less than 10 assorted friends, family and neighbors.


We constructed each of the end walls on the ground and then lifted as one unit to save time.


Despite no experience, sub standard plans, and no idea what we were doing…we charged full ahead and got started erecting the steel.

We could not have gotten this far without the help of so many incredible friends and family.  When we started this dream I don’t think we had any idea what we were in for.  Each day has proven me more and more right in that reflection.  As Mr. Dickens began his, A Tale of Two cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and so it has been for us.  It seems each new phase or project is a new reason I can’t seem to sleep.  Almost daily I find myself realizing I have no idea what I’m doing and doubting we can pull this whole thing off, but I don’t have the sense to let that deter me.  Then somehow we complete a milestone and I am left dazed but grinning.  What I have realized though is that there are so many wonderful people who have been such a critical part of our progress.  Friends and neighbors from Solomons like Jon Bergman, Doug Sutheimer, and our sailing family like Brian Barone, Andy Lynch, Hawk Caldwell and Marcos and Rosie Llosa.


My 6 year boat neighbor John Bergman, who has willing participated in many, many projects with me over the years.


Marcos and Doug up in the lift working on the purlins.


Dick McGowan and Jason Panek up in the lift putting in some trim.

Even my high school bros, Nick Kramer, Jacob Bauckman, and Derek Bauckman got in on the action.  I was even able to talk my middle school math and science teacher Dick McGowan into lending a hand. Some have lent their time, others their tools (thanks Mr. Charbonnet for the leaf blower and all the power cords; I promise I will return them one day).  Most have given advice that may not have initially been followed, though it was proven to be sage counsel in the end.


Two more sunbelt rentals and we get a free cocffee cup.


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The shooting boom forklift was critical to the success of the build.  We fabricated a platform for the forks so two guys could work comfortably.  The build would not have been possible without this machine.

The first prize goes to my dad, Whit or Hor4 as he’s known at the shed.  Though we share a name we don’t always share political opinions, but I could not have done this without the support of him and my mother Penelope.  They both came out and helped in every way imaginable.  Bringing lunches, or picking up parts or tools, or driving the forklift all day.   I think my dad is enjoying his retirement now much more since we started our project.

My parents showed me once again what family means.  Often they would have to listen to my frustrations or doubting my ability to figure one thing or another out, but they never wavered in their support of us or this project.  I know I don’t tell them enough, but none of this would be possible with them.  Despite the many setbacks and realization I have managed to do most of this the wrong or least efficient (most expensive) way possible, it still feels incredible to look at what we have so far accomplished.

The unsung hero here is my wife Jessie, she actually cast her vote for this and she has been as involved and committed as possible.  I don’t recognize her efforts enough, and by sheer proximity she is often burdened with my stress and frustrations the most.  She always has a joke or a weird noise ready to cheer me up and almost all the time she succeeds.  I know I am hard on her and without her love and support none of this would be possible.

Above:  Jessie acts weird as she learns that compressors are fun.

It has been far too long between updates and there is much too much to tell so I will try to stick to the highlights.  When last we spoke I believe the backhoe was broken and we had just finished our first bit of concrete…I am proud to say since that point we have had a few highlights…

The highs:

  • Jessie got to laugh every day when we talked about the ‘erection plans’ for the steel building
  • Using words like girts and purlins and acting like we knew how to read plans
  • Putting together the hardest erector set I can imagine

We decided to label and lay out all the steel before erecting the frames.  We kept the floor heat system pressurized so we would know if we damaged it when drilling into the slab.


The steel is up and the siding begins.



Most of the hardware was either mislabeled, or not labeled at all. Few were properly referenced in the instructions.

  • We got the slab poured over the floor heat tubing without any major issues
  • We got all the steel framing up in 3 days without killing anyone (though it was touch and go a few times)
  • I got a lot of time on some full-on awesome man toys
    • This includes a scissor lift, a Luhl (off-road shooting boom forklift), broke the backhoe a different way, and then had to use a ditch witch trencher
  • Getting the walls and roof up and only having 5 left over pieces
  • Sweating the copper plumbing for our floor heat
    • This may not come across in the pictures but it took Pat and I hours and a roll of blue tape to figure out the connections…and we still got it wrong the first time 😉

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  • LED high bay lightning installed
    • Based on the initial test run I think we will be working in our speedos all winter and keeping a nice tan (stay tuned for the first Ojigwan Yachts Calendar).  We decided on an 8 LED High bay lights at around 30,000 lumens per light.  In my research I found the cost to be competitive and the output to be great for our application.  We ordered from


and were very happy with the product and the service, not to mention the price.  I would recommend them and will use them again for other projects.

  • Insulation purchase, though we are not really sure how we will install it yet.

The Lows:

  • Realizing that the building that I signed the contract for that was designed to support a 24’ x 12’ garage door was not the building that was delivered. We knew all along that the company we purchased our building from was not known for their scruples…and sadly we become another in a long line of defrauded customers.  Fixing this issue has now become a major issue for us and we are considering legal action.

You may notice there is no door on the end of the shed.  We noticed too…though not at first.

  • Breaking the backhoe again, but this time in the trench I was digging.

Trust me it’s not supposed to do that.

  • Trying to fix the backhoe and almost shooting a tow strap through the window of my dad’s truck
  • Having a 20 page instruction manual that for the most part didn’t include the right materials or labels for what we had. We realized very early on that we just had to make our own plan to erect the steel building.  The plans were garbage and for the most part not very helpful in outlining the process.  The first few hours of most days were spent cursing the plans and then just looking at the parts and trying to figure out how they went together.  I would say I now have an almost photographic memory of them having spent most every day for the last two months trying to make sense of them.  I cannot wait to burn them
    • This gave us creative license to just bolt and jolt things as we saw fit, with a big ass forklift you can kinda do whatever you want…and we did!
  • Waking up at 3 in the morning realizing that we will have to drill into the slab and hope we measured correctly and won’t damage the floor heat tubing when we have to install the anchor bolts for the steel columns.  I flipped back and forth from the two images below hoping we had the clearance we needed…we did!



You can just make out the blue tape outlines of where our steel columns would go, we marked and labeled everything to make the install go more smoothly.  I was terrified we would drill into one of our floor tube lines.

A few things may at first jump out to you like the fact that we do not yet have a door, or if you are really good at math you will have probably asked yourself how we plan to get a 42′ long by 23′ wide boat out of our shed.  And if you are really detail oriented you will have gathered that there is a steel beam at roughly 7.5′ high that runs across the side we plan to build our big door…Those are just ‘details’.  To others these would be massive issues, for the Ojigwan team they are just noise…individually they would be cause for a meltdown, but when taken all together I find I am numb to the disappointment and fear.  In totality it almost makes it easier to deal with.  We have so many issues I don’t really have time to focus on any one for very long…See what I did there 🙂

But I would be lying if I said they were all good days and I handled it all well.  The truth is this whole thing is overwhelming most of the time.  There are brief moments where we look around and feel pretty good, but then it’s back to the list and the myriad issues that still need resolution all the while in the not so back part of my mind is that voice that keep saying…”what have I done!”. I have come to terms with knowing I don’t have any idea what I am doing…but somehow things still seem to come together.  I take none of the credit, but it is humbling to have so many folks ready to help out.  Though I don’t have as many of the answers as I would like, I am lucky enough to have a ton of great people I can call for advice…or help, and without that I know we wouldn’t have made it this far.  Though it’s been a disaster more than a few times, I wouldn’t change any of it.  Pat reminds me that you have to risk big to win big, and seeing how far we have come does give me hope we will still figure out how to pull this thing off somehow.


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