Dan Thaler Builds Hand-Crafted Wooden Paddlecraft

By Dan Thaler

Years ago my wife and I tried kayaking in Maine. The bug didn’t really hit till a few years later, when we purchased a couple of 13-foot plastic boats. After one season in those, we found them to be slow, heavy, and uncomfortable. 

Around the same time, I became reacquainted with an old friend  whose husband had built a wooden kayak. I’ve always worked with my hands and figured I could build one too.  

I did some research and ended up buying a kit from Chesapeake Light Craft in Maryland. It was a great experience and a really fun boat to paddle. I then built one for my wife and my grandson. 

At this point, I had a collection of boat building tools and wanted to build more. I decided to make a go of building and selling wooden kayaks. I incorporated Moonlight Marine in 2012.  

The business  has grown to include canoes and standup paddleboards. Along with boats built from scratch, I perform repairs and assist in project completion. Thanks to social media, my boats have been shipped as far as Alaska. 

Built by Thaler: (from top) Great Auk 14 (sold), Shearwater Sport Hybrid (on display at Town Crier Café, Beacon), Petrel lightweight sea kayak (33 pounds, sold), Petrel sea kayak (Dan Thaler’s personal boat). Photo: Dan Thaler

The beauty of wooden boats is they are completely customizable in how they look and how they fit the paddler. Everyone is unique and I build every boat to guarantee user comfort.  

When I mill the boards, I like to let the grain of the wood stand out, often bookmatching the planks by slicing the board and opening it up. I work with clients every step of the way tbe sure they  get exactly what they want. 

Dan Thaler, a resident of Shrub Oak, owns and operates Moonlight Marine, and is on the board of Hudson River Watertrail Association. He is connected with paddlers from Lake Champlain to the Battery in Manhattan and around the globe. You can reach Dan at [email protected] or 914-715-7245.