Drifting Off

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.

Whittling Away

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…

Dick Wagner

On April 20, 2017, Dick Wagner passed away at home at the age of 84. I first met Dick in 1976 or 1977 at The Old Boathouse, a small-boat livery he and his wife Colleen were running out of their floating home on northwest corner of Seattle’s Lake Union. In their watery “back yard” Dick had a handful of pulling boats; I rented a White Bear skiff a few times… 

Freya Hoffmeister, Circumnavigator

When I began writing this, there was a boat standing bolt-upright on its bow, held in place by a rope wrapped around its stern and pinched in a window sash on one of my upstairs bedrooms. The boat is an 18′ kayak that belongs to my friend Freya Hoffmeister, from Husum, Germany. She’s currently paddling . . .

Harlan and Anna Hubbard: Life after Shantyboat

When I was planning for my rowing trip down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in the early 1980s, I read as many books as I could find on traveling those waterways in small boats. Four Months in a Sneak Box by Nathaniel Bishop was my main guide, as it was his trip that I was . . .

Driftwood and Windfalls

The slabs of red cedar that I'd salvage from the beach mad the last leg of the journey to my mountain shop with the help of an old Tote Goat trail scooter.

Sawing driftwood for my review of the Silky Bigboy in the February issue struck a chord that has resonated deeply through most of my life. My father used to take me to the beach near our home in Edmonds, Washington, to gather red cedar driftwood for a fence that would eventually surround our 1/3-acre lot. . . .

Roller Carts

Like Ben Fuller, I have more boats than trailers to haul them, so when I read his article on the roller cart he built with Joe Liener, I was convinced that I needed one or two to shuffle my boats. Wooden Roller I didn’t have a section of an old mast to use for a . . .

Topsails, Jibs, and Tarps

  I was pleased to have Barry Long write an article on topsails. I get impatient in light air and I, too, like having more sails, either custom-made or cobbled-together ones, as much to get the boat moving as to have more things to fiddle with. My 14′ Marblehead skiff started out with a sprit . . .

A Line in the Sand

The 21′ Gokstad faering I built in 1987 wasn’t a boat I could bring myself to paint or slather with boat soup that would turn black with age. The straight-grained, knot-free Douglas fir I used for the planks and sculpted stems deserved to be seen, so I varnished the whole boat inside and out. That . . .

Blind-splined mitered knees

I started building boats in 1978, and only once was I able to collect enough crooks for a boat, a New York Whitehall. Its breasthook is apple, the six thwart knees and the bookmatched pair of quarter knees are cherry, and the transom knee is Alaskan yellow cedar. I think they’re easy on the eyes, . . .

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