To the west, 50 yards away across a flat plain of tawny salt-marsh grass, we spotted a man in a plaid shirt and a green baseball cap walking toward us. His conversation with us had apparently started well before we could hear his voice, and by the time we shook hands with him and introduced ourselves he was well into the story of his life and how he came to be here in the middle of a coastal marsh. This was Arthur Dennan. He was 61, but his weather-creased face and silvery beard made him look a decade older.
This year I revived the idea a sheltered helm. I put three large forward-facing windows in the front of the cabin, reinstalled the rudder and kill-switch lines, and added a pair of lines to control the throttle. A stick clamped to the outboard’s bracket holds the tiller upright, and a yoke pressed on the throttle provides some leverage and finer control. Taking out two of the sleeping platform panels and replacing them with short seats provides a footwell for comfortable upright seating.
My last moments of wakefulness in bed would be colored by the failures I’d experienced during my day in the workshop. At some point I shifted my thinking as I drifted off to sleep and focused on the work ahead rather than behind. Anticipating and solving boatbuilding problems became my nighttime routine and a very reliable way to fall pleasantly asleep no matter what distressing things might have happened during the day.
My father passed away three years ago at the age of 91, and I certainly won’t need Father’s Day this month as a reminder to think about him. My home is filled with things that he made; the ones I value most he whittled from bits of wood. As a young man he carved…