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6 years after cutting the first planks, 80 year old calls hand built boat "labor of love"

The Frances Louise (WPDE)

As you walk along the boats featured at the 2017 Georgetown Wooden Boat Show, the Frances Louise doesn't stick out.

It's among the larger vessels tied to the docks, and painted a nondescript off-white, but get a little closer, and you see Jim Potter standing on its lower deck, bursting with pride.

Potter is 1 week away from turning 80 years old, and the Frances Louise is a boat he built by hand, piece by piece over the last 6 years.

"They say, 'Are you keeping a count of how many hours you worked on it?'" Potter began. "I said, 'I certainly am... so far, I haven't worked any. I've had fun!"

The boat was pieced together underneath Potter's house, except for a few weeks when a friend in North Carolina helped set the ribs.

Month by month, Potter cut, nailed, and wired the vessel together. All 37 feet of it.

"It's been like a puzzle putting it together piece by piece," Potter said. "And if I don't like it, since my labor is free, I can take it off and do it over again!"

The human Frances Louise explained that Potter's friends would make jokes about the boat at weekly get-togethers as the years went by. None of them believed Potter would actually finish the project.

The boat made its maiden voyage in June, after Potter fitted it with twin outboard motors that give the Frances Louise a top speed of 55 miles per hour.

"It was a fun thing to do," Potter said, of the last 6 years.

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