Img_0783Img_0745Rik van Hemmen, above, rough-hews a tulip tree log with a chain saw while Boris Kofman, left, begins shaping one end of what will become a canoe.

A giant tulip tree log that’s been lying on the ground outside the Red Bank Primary School for more than a year has begun its transformation into what local boating enthusiasts and historians hope will become a dugout canoe.

Rik van Hemmen of the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is leading an effort to build the vessel the way Native Americans are believed to have made theirs in the days of pre-colonial America: by using controlled burning to create a lightweight but sturdy shell.

The log came from the yard of a homeowner in Long Branch. Work on the canoe began Saturday morning after months of delay over insurance issues.

It will continue for, well.. “no clue,” says van Hemmen.

The project is part of an education endeavor that aims to teach kids about the lives of the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans who once populated Monmouth County.

But another goal, of course, is to launch the first dugout canoe seen in these parts in several hundred years, says van Hemmen.

There’s an extensive description of the project here.

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