Thursday, May 11, 2017

Boating Announcements

Although I am sorry to report that our Lodore dory trip is full this year--better luck next year!--I am delighted to relay that Flaming Gorge Dam is full to bursting and we will be running on maximum release--8,600. They say there is so much snow waiting to melt that they will be sending the equivalent of the entire contents of Flaming Gorge Reservoir through Lodore this summer. Woohoo!!!

I can hardly wait.


The good news for prospective boatbuilders is that there is still room in the McKenzie Dory course I am teaching at WoodenBoat School in Maine the first week of July. My main shop helper Janek will be assisting. Here's the write-up. See you there!

The blue boat is one we built in last year's course. Jonathan, who took it home and is rowing it in this picture, pointed out to me that he is wearing a purple dress in the photo.

On the river


For those of you that have not heard, our longtime river friend Drifter Smith ran his last rapid last week. We hope all that knew him can join for a celebration of his life June 11 here in Flagstaff. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Well, spring came and we finally finished up Dae Edwards's new studio with a grand party. The porch roof is on and we be done. What a wonderful adventure this has been for the community.

Geoff got a nice shot here.

And on into the night with squeezebox and songs sung in Gaelic.

Back in the shop we got out the big order of oars with hours to spare. Preliminary reports on their performance are quite good. Whew.

We celebrated spring here with the daffodils. I think all one thousand we planted came up. They sure make me happy.

And off down the river for the first trip of the year. I somehow managed to forget to take more than a couple shots. Sunset in my office

And one of a zillion Palmer's pen stamens on the Diamond Creek road.

Kate made it back to Flagstaff to finish up the parts for her McKenzie boat. But now she's off boating for the summer so we may not pull it together until fall.

A dorky little project--all the paddleboat paddles in the size I like have broken handles. So I made a new one of ash, walnut, and padauk.

While I was on the river Janek finished up the new bank of drawers. WE spent the last few days moving things around, sorting debris, making drawer dividers, and so forth. I think life in the shop will now be even better. Certainly more efficient.

I've got another day of tidying up loose ends, then it's off downriver again with my new paddle. Woohoo!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Time flew

Jeepers, time keeps getting away from me. Stuff just keeps happening so fast. Let's see, where were we? The Mille Crag Bend made a full recovery and headed on down the driveway toward her next adventure.

The Fretwater ChillyBin 276 achieved completion and is ready to go downriver with me in a little under two weeks. Yikes. It's almost summer.

My beloved dory Cataract came down from the loft after a winter of drying and got her bottom insults doctored.

And another experiment--sailboat flap-valve scuppers to help bail out the passenger footwells down to seat level. Stay tuned.

My orchid, after a dozen years without bloom, is in its third month of showing off this beautiful plume of flowers.

Outside the thousand bulbs we planted last fall are really starting to take off.

And our community project to build Dave Edwards a studio is nearly done. We are having a Boyo's Boxwarming party Saturday, April 15, to celebrate. Come on by!

But lest we get ahead of ourselves, we did launch into one more frenzied streak of productiveness. Nine new oars on order are now in production. Starting with big fat heavy ash planks.

After carefully sorting and testing our patterns, we actually found all nine oars hiding inside those planks. Each one got it's outer laminate milled out as well.

And glued on. I wish I had more clamps.

Then we cut them into a square version of their final shape.

And took the square to 8 sides, 16 sides, and more-or less 32. Rubbing charcoal on between planing sessions helps keep track of where you are.

God, I love running a shop that's full of genuine, hand made, organic, shade grown, free-range, gluten-free wood shavings.

Once the planing stops we work up a sweat with sandpaper.

Outdoors we went after the blades with a serious grinder, then an almost as serious sander. And at week's end we had a mess of pretty sweet oars.

And on go the Loehr Laser-tips.

And a quick seminar on how to open and close recalcitrant oarlocks. Cheater-bars to open.

And a hammer to close and re-shape. It's good to have a block inside the oarlock so the reshaping goes properly.

   And then a pause to reconnect with the river--the reason we do all this ridiculous boat stuff. I headed up to Marble Canyon to re-certify my Food Manager's card, do the annual AzRA guide pre-season orientation, and participate in the annual Guide Training Seminar. My talk was on Doris Rapid--more on that another time. One guest appearance was from Greg Adams, great-grandson of James White--the poor old prospector who was plucked off a log raft from the Colorado River at the foot of Grand Canyon 150 years ago and presumed by many, myself included, to be the first person to float through Grand Canyon. Greg built a painstaking replica of his great granddad's vessel for us to admire.

A close-up of the shirt.

I was headed for bed a little after midnight when the haircut crew got ahold of me.  How would a fella say no to that crowd?

And at noon the next day a bunch of us old wooden boat-heads headed up the river for a few days of frolicking.

Our first day of frolic ended up being under a tarp in the pouring rain, but that's why we brought the whiskey. Always be prepared.

But in the big picture it's still a desert.

Hmmm. Can't motor up that. Better turn around and row.

Mariposa lilies. It must be spring.

And Helleborine orchids. 

So very pretty. Even though they say we lost the best ninety percent of Glen Canyon, the wee bit we still have is pretty amazing.

You never know who you'll run into on the river. We camped next to a group that will likely be all the rage soon: Scary Larry and the Transylvanians. That was pretty interesting.

Then this happened.

Yikes. So it's back to the shop to tidy up a mess of loose ends. And head down the river.