Ronnie Rama spends most of his time studying architecture, but his latest venture has him testing the waters.
Rama, associate professor of the Department of Art and Design, spent last summer crafting a boat by hand that is now on display in the Brown Library.
Rama’s hand-crafted boat is a small Nina skiff – a boat with a flat bottom, a mast and a single sail. The hull of the vessel is painted white while the area below the waterline is painted red. The sail is white with the number “23” on each side.
Rama picked the name Wish I for personal reasons, inspired by the song “Wish I” by Jem. The number 23 was chosen because Rama sees it everywhere, from his birthday to half the number of human chromosomes.
Throughout his life, Rama has always seen connection between his field of architecture and other disciplines. He was encouraged by his wife to go to Rockland, Maine and enroll in the Apprenticeshop, a school that teaches how to build and sail boats.
With funding from the Adams Center For Teaching and Learning to help pay for the $6,000 cost of tuition, Rama traveled north in 2013 during the months of June and July.
At the Apprenticeshop, Rama was taught how to build every part of the boat by hand using only traditional methods. Boards were cut by saw and bent into the proper shape using clamps and physical strength. They were not allowed to use steam to bend the wood. He used a plane to carve a round mast from a square part of wood.
Rama’s construction was not all smooth sailing. He recalls that at least two boards snapped while he was bending them, and he had to carve a second mast because the first one was crooked.
Rama said after two weeks of working on the boat, his instructor told him no one had completed a boat within the amount of time Rama wanted to: three months.
“I am not leaving Maine without sailing this boat,” he said.
Rama said this obstacle gave him more motivation. Building the boat had gone from learning the process to becoming a personal challenge to complete his boat.
Rama said it was “[him] against the boat” and admits his unwillingness to give up was partly stubbornness and partly a challenge.
He completed the boat in 52 days – a record for the school. Rama sailed Wish I twice in Maine before returning to Abilene with the boat.
When asked what he planned to do with his boat, Rama said: “I plan to sail Wish I as much as possible.”