A canoe made from two of the world’s oldest workable woods—ancient kauri and ancient cypress, both carbon-dated to tens of thousands of years—sounds perfect for a museum piece. Although most clients do indeed use Wood Song Canoes as sculptures, Philip Greene designs and builds the bespoke vessels in his Round O, S.C., workshop to be as functional as any other flat-water canoe.
Greene, who has been crafting one-of-a-kind canoes out of rare woods since 1995, is reserving his next commission for a Robb Report reader. The vessels—which range in length from 10 feet to 17 feet, 9 inches—require 1,200 to 2,000 hours to complete, thanks in large part to the sculpted trim, as on the pictured Evensong. “There shouldn’t be one spot in the entire canoe that is flat,” he says. “I spent 100 hours on the front seat and another 75 on the back. It’s all about shaping, sanding and finessing. I want the curves but also a clear yacht-like finish.”
The Evensong’s cypress hull features a double pinstripe of the kauri, while the interior—deck, gunwales, seats, handles, yoke and foot-braces—are all gold-hued kauri (recently discovered preserved in New Zealand buried underground in open fields for thousands of years after the tree fell). Of course, since each canoe is a custom project, owners can opt for nearly any wood species, with a choice of grain and design. From $178,500