Monday, September 10, 2018

Music and Mud

My dear friend Julie keeps coming up with music events to present in my home. It's quite an honor. She and Cabel's group, Secret Handshake, opened up this event with their wonderful harmonies and great guitar work. 

The main act was Nathan James, a one-man blues act that completely bluesed us away. If you closed your eyes you'd swear there were three--or sometimes four--members to the band. If Nathan comes to your town, go see him.

Down in the shop Cataract got a facelift. After a few decades of a grey or tan deck, she has gone back to a more traditional Litton-esque design in proper dory colors.

In my typical nonsensical manner I decided to make a pair of sassafras oars for my upcoming trip, starting three days before the trip. I finished them a few minutes before heading of the warehouse. 

We headed north with one of Cataract's clones, Thunder River, born in my shop four years ago.

Our group of Scottish and Australian kayakers set a challenge--for us to haul and them to drink: well over three thousand beers.

Morning fog, figurative and literal.

Willie and Bownsie surfing the wave at Redneck Rapid. Moments after this photo, on a whim, I made an attempt to push Cataract out onto the wave. To my amazement and terror, she slid right on out onto the face of the wave and surfed the shit out of it. Once off the wave, and once I stopped shaking, I giggled for the rest of the day. And I won surf of the trip.

Trouble ahead.

Thunder River in Harding Rapid.

How does it do this?

The band is warming up.

RJ is too, displaying his unparalleled steak cooking technique.

Monsoon dances in the sky.

Gearing up for Jane's birthday party. It's an ABBA disco theme.

The river was at the perfect level to slide the dories through the narrows up into Havasu.

Happy dories at Tequila Beach after sweet left runs at Lava Falls.

I'm sorry to report that the team failed to finish their beer. Here's one last try at breakfast on our last day.

The rapid at 221 that appeared after a flash flood two years ago, and was subsequently washed away by a dam-release flood flow that fall, reappeared this summer. It is amazing that that very same drainage should get two such catastrophic floods in such a short time.

Here is what it looked like in 2016:

Back in Flagstaff we are having a two week festivity called Colorado River Days. Three Fretwater boats got to go downtown for a Tiny Boat Concert.

Last night I hosted a historic boat lecture and tour at the shop. After hours, the amazing Peter McLaughlin and Chris Brashear joined Lora Colten for an impromptu jam. Here they are playing Peter's ode to Glen and Bessie Hyde: Too Thick to Drink, Too Thin to Plow. What an incredible honor.

I will close with an art piece that my phone took all on its own. I have no idea what it is, but I hope my talented telephone continues its creativity.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Maine Thing

After two great trips in Bears Ears, I transferred her to her new owner and the sweet boat headed north to live in Colorado. Her bow hatch inscription tells her story.

And with temperatures in Grand Canyon rising to unbearable, it was time to board a flying torture chamber and head for Maine.

Bye bye Phoenix in the full moon.

Good morning Boston in the fog.

A swing by Geno Mondello's Dory Shop in Gloucester, but he wasn't in this rainy morning.

A visit to Lowell's Boat Shop in Amesbury, birthplace of the Banks Dory. They are so cute when they're little.

And on to WoodenBoat School in Maine, where I set up my lovely new home--a Bangladesh-built tent with a doghouse attached.

A visit to the tool shops on Saturday. I finally got to meet Skip Brack, the man who built the Liberty Tool/Captain Tinkham's/ Hulls Cove Tool Barn complex of old tool emporiums. What a cool dude.

I took a class in rigging--knottery, splicing and allied skills. Here is a double-braid rope splice in progress.

Some homemade rope and a few more splices.

A Liverpool wire splice. With a thimble, serving, and a seizing.

Cruising the WoodenBoat harbor after class. These tall ships are pretty classy rigs.

Sunset at Naskeag Point. Always a crowd pleaser.

Janek flew in and we taught a one-week course in oarmaking. A few of the fellows were a bit overwhelmed at the amount of labor involved, but we made it by Friday evening.

Then I went visiting. Here are my old pals Lora and Ruby. Ruby turned nine years old this month and appears to have achieved perfect stasis with the environment in her seashore outhaul we built about five years ago. She leaks a wee bit for a day of so upon launching, then goes dry. And she looks increasingly ageless.

Next I went up to visit Ned, Lora's builder friend who remodeled her barn into a beautiful home last year. Ned's shop makes Fretwater Boatworks look like a Fischer-Price kid's toy. We went out sailing with his gal friend Miles.

Then over into New Brunswick to visit Harry and Martha Bryan again. Their hideaway is beyond magical. Here's Harry's boathouse. At high tide he can just about winch a boat straight into the building. At low tide the ocean is twenty-five vertical feet lower and about a quarter mile away.

I got to sleep in the top tower room this time.

I headed back down to Camden for my next adventure. Sam and Susan Manning's wonderful old dory is still afloat there, though it doesn't get out much anymore.

Susan's rowing station where she rows against a single thole pin, never missing a stroke. She's just about rowed her way through to the gunwale.

Sam's custom sculling slot in the transom, with which he can scull forward, backward, or around in circles.

The month in Maine wound up with a week on the Mary Day, a great two-masted schooner boasting over 5000 square feet of sail.

Furling the jibs.

 Foresail, staysail, Jib, and Top jib all flying. so beautiful.

It was wonderful to look out and see other ships of this archaic style sailing along with us. Kinda like the olden days.

Hoisting the foresail.

Navigation class with my dear friend Jane.

 Dr. John, Captain Barry and Bill.

We bought seventy pounds of lobster for dinner one night. One of them was the unusual blue variant.

But they all turn orange when you cook them. Barry puts on a mean feed. Somewhere out there in the fog beyond the Mary Day is WoodenBoat School.

Heading back to the mother ship after dinner on the beach.

Helmsman in training. It's pretty fun to drive these rigs.

For my belated birthday Jane arranged to let me take Mary Day beneath the Deer Isle Bridge. It stands 85 feet above high tide. So we lowered the topmasts to 85 feet. Should be fine, right? Barry tells me not to miss the middle.

Turks Head bracelet class.


And my first ever fogbow.

John at the helm with Jane standing watch.

A vertical panorama with all seven sails.

Bow. Wow.

After a week we docked back in Camden. Then it was back in the rental car. Back to Boston. Back to Flagstaff. And a one-day turn-around to a motor trip through Grand Canyon. My head is still spinning a bit.

A wee waterfall on day one.

The iconic shot from Nankoweap Granary.

Wake-up call at Upset Rapid

And now, finally, back home for a couple weeks of respite. The summer is off to a fine start.