The Wedding Canoe

I moved to Vancouver from Ontario after I graduated from university in 2009. I was drawn to British Columbia by the mountains but immediately fell in love with the coast, taking a keen interest in surfing, open-water swimming, kayaking, and sailing. Among the very first people I met on the West Coast were two sisters, Karen and…

A Lakeland Row

Mats and Verneri were lucky to start their tour on calm waters and in mild weather, perfect for rowing. A light tailwind helped them out for a while but died completely while they were crossing the Hauki Waterway. The compass, meant for forward-facing kayakers, had to be installed backwards for the rower in the bow rower to see the card, and that required some mental gymnastics to set a course. Here they’re rowing on a course of 105°, ESE, and the compass reads 285°, WNW.

A couple of years ago I spotted a long, lean traditional Finnish rowing boat for sale online. It had been designed and built for bi-stroke racing with a rower on a sliding seat and a paddler using a single-bladed paddle in the stern. I had no experience in competitive rowing or even cruising under oars, but…

The Sailing Light Challenge

It took more than sixty years to build the Boyard fortress, and it was never used for the military purpose it was intended for.

The French love sailing, but the big and expensive racing and cruising yachts often get all of the attention. Two years ago I got together with a group of friends and we organized a new event, called Challenge Naviguer Léger, Sailing Light Challenge, an unsupported, 100-mile tour along France’s Bay of Biscay coast in…

A Maine Island Idyll

In a light breeze Rob row-sailed toward Pumpkin Island and the top of the Eggemogin Reach. Sail-assisted rowing made it possible to cover mileage more effectively when sail alone would have been too slow to keep the pair on schedule to make good use of the tidal currents around Penobscot Bay.

It was a very gentle bump. I’d been sleeping comfortably at anchor after a long day on the water, but I was wide-awake in an instant. A few seconds later it came again—a firm nudge from below interrupting the soft, easy motion of my boat—and this time WAXWING stopped moving. I was aground. I checked…

A Man’s Best Friend

July, 2016. With a lid covering the outboard hole and the outboard itself providing ballast forward, the skiff rows better than ever. Just outside Dartmouth we usually see ten or twelve seals whenever we go to the Mew Stone.

The mid-1990s were a mixed time for me. I had a fine house, a great job, a beautiful wife, and two lovely children—but I was boatless. My wife and I had sold our 32′ double-ender after our first child was born and we hadn’t found anything within our price range to take its place. So when yacht designer Nigel Irens was…

Building on Tradition

The year 1971 was a turbulent time on college campuses all across America. Newscasts were full of antiwar protests, civil-rights marches, and sit-ins with loudspeakers blaring the words of Bob Dylan’s eclectic poetry and the songs of screamin’, whiskey-voiced Janis Joplin. As a student at a small college in South Dakota, I desperately needed a challenge…

Dories Down Under

After steam bending and scarf-jointing a full length chine log, Andy and I finished the precise compound angle end-cuts to fit it tightly into the hull.

Brian Megaw, a river guide on New Zealand’s North Island, thought there must be a better way to run the Whanganui River. On this historic river that meanders through the verdant mountains and canyons of Whanganui National Park, commercial trips were limited to paddle-your-own canoe rentals. From what Brian saw, most couples zigzagged back…

The Race to Alaska

We had arrived at Port Townsend, Washington, a few days before the start of the 2015 Race to Alaska (R2AK) so we would have a chance to make any repairs after our sail there from Gabriola Island in British Columbia, and to watch the fleet arriving. Our 100-mile pre-race trip from Gabriola had…

Rowing the North Atlantic

In November 2013 I received a phone call from Tommy Hudson, good friend as well as one of my employees. After we chatted for a bit, he said he loved his job but there was something he really wanted to do: row across the North Atlantic. I was instantly inspired; I told Tommy he could…

The Isles of Finland

In the middle of July last summer I found myself with no responsibilities. I had five days with no plans and no kids to attend to. I packed AANAR, my modified Herreshoff Coquina, with camping gear and drove from my home in the small town Porvoo to my favorite place to…

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