Sunday, January 12, 2020

Small boats and smaller boats

And one really big boat. Here's the speed boat that made an attempt on the Grand Canyon record this week. Six sliding seat stations, a cockpit for the steersmen, and a pad for one person to nap between shifts. Unfortunately he low flows did not allow their heroic 38-hour marathon attempt to break any of the records. But they had a flawless clean run and had a great time.


Back in the shop, poor Cricket fell victim to an irresistible offer on Craigslist: a Glen-L Peewee. It's the cutest little motorboat you ever saw, and came with two 1940s Johnson Sea Horse motors. Stay tuned--we should have her up and running before long.


The 2-horse Johnson looks pretty good on one of our bookshelf dories.


We got the hatches on Spooky hinged and latched, then rolled her over to begin her paint job. We are trying out the inverse of Peekaboo's pattern and are loving it.




While the paint was drying we began a series of 1/6-scale models for the Powell Museum in Page. We are starting with the boat we know best: the Briggs Grand Canyon Dory. Here is Cricket affixing the ribs to our adorable little strong back.


Fine tuning a side-panel.


With the panel shape determined, we form two of them and glue her up.


More name painting.


My full flock of lofting ducks crushing the floor to the mini-Briggs.


And on with the decks.


Lovable. And laughable.


We are going to replicate the paint job on the original Briggs boat, the Emerald Mile, as she looked before her big crash.



Oh those Briggs boat lines...


And on to the Nevills Cataract boat replica.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

More flash builds and product testing

Just after Thanksgiving a cluster of Martin Litton's old dory crew from the '70s and '80s gathered in southern California for his widow Esther's hundredth birthday. Esther at 100 is quite a bit sharper than I was at fifty. It was a marvelous and moving celebration.



Back in Flagstaff we hosted another house concert--Keith Greeninger put on a powerful event. A truly amazing entertainer.


Down in the shop Tim Porten brought in his McKenzie boat Eileen for decks. We hit her hard and five days later sent her home decked, guttered, hatched, hinged, and latched.



Then we set to work on Doryak 2.0--a slight modification of last month's Peekaboo. This one is a couple inches taller with a bit more rake to the bow. A few other small tweaks, but quite similar otherwise to Doryak 1.0.






We headed west in another snowstorm on Christmas Eve in a cowardly attempt to avoid Santa and all that other nonsense. It worked.


We motored up into Black Canyon for a few days and took the new boat out for a spin. Her name is Spooky Gulch--the sister canyon to Peekaboo. Both canyons are tributaries to the Escalante and getting trampled my cattle and two-legged creatures under BLM Multiple Abuse management.


Hippos kissing at sunrise.


Andy and RJ rounded out the fleet with their vintage Briggs boats.






Spooky handles beautifully, as we had hoped. Her added height makes her a bit more wobbly when unloaded, but a few cases of beer for ballast will fix that.




After four nights Andy and RJ headed home and Dawn and I went south to the lower river via the Blythe Intaglios--ancient geoglyphs in the Mojave Desert.


We rowed south from Walter's Camp on low water, pausing at the occasional sandbar for camp. Turns out Spooky is just right for tenting as well.



A Happy New Decade to you all. Let's take the next ten years and see if we can turn this species around again and get on a positive course for the planet and all its inhabitants.



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Product testing

We loaded up a stack of boats in the rain and headed up to Utah for recess. We also wanted to see what Peekaboo would do.


We headed down the old San Juan that afternoon. There were just four of us, so we could only row four boats.


Peekaboo and Bernie were so light we dragged them up into camp for furniture.




Turns out Peekaboo makes a swell bed for one or two people.


There sure are a lot of traces of our Puebloan forebears up there.


Oops. Hungry trees tried to eat the Juan.


Such beauty.






Eight-foot Rapid was easy but fun.


Peekaboo is so quick, stable, and seaworthy that she really doesn't make very exciting photos. But I guess that's a good thing.



Brr. Chilly willy mornings.


Encouraged, we drove up to Westwater to try some more vigorous whitewater. But we were so busy we got few photos. Again, Peekaboo was so comfortable in turbulence that she made few exciting moves. Justin rowed her through with great poise. Cricket took Juan, our open McKenzie through and due to the length and lightness of the boat, was a lot more exciting to watch. What a badass.



Andy Hutchinson joined us for this stretch.


As usual, the camping was as much fun as the boating. Juan disassembled into camp chairs, cocktail table, kitchen tables, and a lean-to to camp out of the dew.


In all, we were thrilled with Peekaboo's performance and hope to start Doryak 2.0 in a week or so. A few tweaks here and there, but it's a winner.