Here in the state of Washington, our governor declared a state of emergency in response to the spread of the COVID-19 disease and imposed a Stay Home—Stay Healthy order. There are four “essential activities” for which we should leave the safety and isolation of home, and the last of them is: “Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running or biking, but only if appropriate social distancing practices are used.” Rowing has long been one of my normal forms of exercise and it’s certainly a very effective method of achieving the social distancing we’re all now called upon to practice.
On January 23, I bought a box of 30 N-95 disposable dust masks at Home Depot for $21.47. They’ve been standard fare in my shop for decades, but a little more than a month later, with the spread of the coronavirus, a box of 20 was selling for $132.99 on Amazon, and wouldn’t be available for two weeks. I’ve been watching the coronavirus spread like an incoming tide and it is already lapping at my doorstep. On February 29th, a man in a care facility 8 miles from my home in Seattle died, the first person in the U.S. to succumb to COVID-19, the illness linked to the virus. The governor of Washington has declared a state of emergency.
built my first kayak in 1978. It was my own design, a mongrel of elements I’d seen in the classic documentary book, Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America, by Edwin Tappan Adney and Howard Chapelle. It had a stern profile from Alaska’s King Island, a midsection from Canada’s Southampton Island, and a bow . . .
I have a fair number of boats in my fleet and some are getting on in years. The oldest of the ones I’ve built is a Chamberlain gunning dory I built for my father in 1980. The oldest of all of them is an English river wherry bearing an oval brass plate that reads: T. Cooper & Sons of Shrewsbury, Boatbuilders, Shrewsbury. Dad acquired it perhaps 40 years ago and believed it was built around 1890. Dad may have told me where he found the wherry, but at the time it was just another boat in a garage crowded with racing shells and I didn’t pay much attention to any of them.
here’s an interesting exhibition of art at the Georgetown Historical Society in Georgetown, Maine. Some of the pieces on display are an unusual pairing of abstract painting and wooden boat models. The disciplines of art and boatbuilding have very different goals, one purely aesthetic and the other quite practical, but both require thoughtful attention to . . .