- Associated Press - Saturday, February 14, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - When Brian Crapo was on a mission in Arizona for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he felt a niggling sense something was missing - but he also knew how to fix it.

His landlord had a shop out back. “I would sneak out there and make a couple of knives,” Crapo said. “It was amazing how therapeutic it was.”

Crapo isn’t comfortable unless he’s building something. “I have itchy hands,” he said, holding them up.

He’s been around the craft since he was little; his father was the Chief Financial Officer for Alaska Electric Light & Power, but he also loved building things, becoming a general contractor after retirement in 2000.

“That was Dad’s hobby, I guess,” Crapo said. “After hours, he liked to build houses.”

While they were building one of several houses, the family lived on a boat, the Capital City Weekly (https://bit.ly/1ETwAJY) reported.

“We spent a lot of time on the water. That was our family vacation,” he said. “Just cruising around, visiting the coves, bays and the streams, everything that we have (in Southeast Alaska.)”

Those two activities combined led to a logical passion for both Brian Crapo and his brother, Darrin: building boats.

Darrin inputs a design as a digital file in the computer, and Brian puts it together.

“He does all the technical part of really hammering out the details,” Brian said. “We just both do what we’re good at.”

Through their company, Broken Rudder, Brian and Darrin came out with a prototype of their shallow water boat, the Jetwaffe (jet weapon) in 2014.

Now, the first Jetwaffe is “living the life it was meant to live in the Yukon,” Brian said.

They used the proceeds from its sale to buy material for two more boats, and “anytime we’ve got a break to do it, by golly, we will be doing it,” he said.

They made a few changes to the initial design, moving the fuel tank from under the stern to under the seats, for example.

Just recently, they built an eight-foot skiff “for fun” and are looking at creating a 16-foot boat with a “deep V” at the bottom and bow flare to help divert spray.

“Something you could ride around in the weather here without getting beaten to pieces,” he said.

While their passion is building boats, they pay the bills by repairing and working on existing ones.

Crapo also went south in 2010 and 2011 for training at a vocational school in welding; he’s thinking about eventually becoming a certified welding instructor and educator, he said.

Crapo also has a penchant for less practical things: he bought a pipe organ and is learning to play; he’s had a passion for organ music ever since listening to Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” as a kid.

“Just hearing the full sound of the organ just sounded so majestic and powerful,” he said. “Hearing those big, deep pipes rumble and shake - for a guy that likes bass, it was the ultimate.”

He’s working on a skeleton made entirely out of metal, with a sheet metal skull, angle iron ribs, and a chain spine. “That’s the artistic side coming out,” he said. “I’m not necessarily terribly technically minded.”

He also likes finding ways to make use of what’s around him: a recent project was tanning leather from a deer he hunted using the liver oil of a sleeper shark he caught. Sleeper sharks have “enormous livers” they use for buoyancy.

He uses hide trimmings to make hide glue, which he uses for the string bass he plays - as it can be softened with warm water, it’s better to use on instruments. He’s repaired household furniture with it, as well.

He’s made moccasins and other leather products, he’d like to make a halibut jacket out of halibut skin, and the “pinnacle of my aspirations” is to make a bear hide coat.

It’s not for nothing he earned the description (as the person who recommended him for this profile called him) “the guy that would survive the zombie apocalypse,” though Crapo isn’t so sure about that.

“I think I get an unearned reputation for being a wilderness survival mountain guy, just because I do some strange things,” he said.

On a recent trip, he suggested building lean-tos instead of using tents. He’s also made an atlatl. And then there’s the deer hide and sleeper shark liver oil rendering, among other projects.

“People see a few things like that and think I’m a super mountain man,” he said. “I’m really not. I don’t even camp all that much.”

He does enjoy getting things done efficiently, though, and he enjoys setting challenges for himself.

“These hands always have to be doing something. They have to make things,” he said.

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