Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Broadening One's Horizons

My style of boatbuilding and oar making is sort of a hodgepodge of different styles. I've learned from my friends Andy Hutchinson and Tim Cooper; from Jerry Briggs, Sam Johnson, and Roger Fletcher in the Northwest; Greg Rössel, Harry Bryan, Clint Chase, Sam Manning, Dynamite Payson, and others in the Northeast; from my surfboard shaper and epoxy guru friend Greg Loehr, from dozens of books, from growing up in a culture of carpenters, and on and on. But even more learning has come from within my own shop as techniques evolve and change, and my coworkers and students come up with ever more creative solutions. I've never been a purist, rather preferring to mix and match styles at the spur of the moment. Traditional plywood on frame; lapstrake; carvel; stitch-and-glue; classic boats, new designs, hopeless restorations. Boats is boats. And boatbuilding is an unending progression of problem solving, and the more angles I learn, the more tools I have to come up with a better mousetrap.

In that light I have signed up for two courses this year which promise to broaden my quiver of methods immeasurably. I thought I'd share this in case any of you blog followers were looking for an adventure this summer. I think there is still room in both of them. Think about it.

Building a 15' Aspoya Faering

The first will be a course in Viking boatbuilding from my amazing friend Jay Smith back at WoodenBoat School in Maine. Jay is the premiere Viking boatbuilder in the Western Hemisphere, and a bit of a maniac as well. For two weeks we'll be building a small Norwegian-style vessel. Using materials and techniques more common a thousand years ago, we'll be building by eye, whittling and hacking and riveting together a really sweet little boat.

Japanese River Boatbuilding

For the yang to counterbalance this yin, I've signed up for a course with Douglas Brooks on Japanese Riverboat Building. It will be up in Port Townsend at the Northwest Maritime Center, August 24 through 28. Brooks has spent much of the last two decades apprenticing with old Japanese boatbuilders, many of them the last of the line. He has won their confidence and they have passed on to him secrets many generations old.  His book, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding, is simply stunning.

I'm so curious how these new techniques will affect my thinking this fall.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Boatman's Holiday

A gang of us dory geeks often head up into Glen Canyon for a few days before the annual Guides Training Seminar at Hatchland. Cricket and Justin join in with us this time, along with Andy, RJ, and Terri. A film crew is doing a wee documentary of Cricket and her aged mentor (me). So Brian Dierker chased us around a bit for the first few days, helping the film crew get the shots. 

Heading upstream.

Something is impeding further upstream progress.

A taste of old Glen Canyon.

More exploring. It's springtime in the desert.

Brian finally took the film crew away and brought back Vladimir to paint the letters. It's fitting that he do the honors, because his granddad used to run trips with Martin Litton when the Hetch Hetchy was a new boat. And what better place to put the name back on than Glen Canyon--two of the greatest environmental disasters of the 20th Century.

Cricket is studying under the master.

Can't stop now.

Oh yeah.

Segue to Springtime

We finished up our house concert series with the Stillhouse Junkies, with Secret Handshake opening once again. What an incredible treat it is to have these wonderful musicians impregnating my house with such great vibrations. I know the house stores that magic for later radiance. Not sure who is next or when, but I reckon Julie and I have to keep shows going.

Down in the shop we headed down the home stretch on Shaman's Gallery.

How many boatbuilders can you keep busy at once?

Crazy tiger grain ash. SeaDek is going on. 

The grace and beauty of this work is hard to describe.

Final sanding for her paint job.

On with the rubber outer chines

I ordered Shaman's paint a little late, so it's time to finish off Hetch Hetchy. Here is the removable transom being created.

Taking precautions for the low clearance work.

Busy busy busy

We have a launch party coming up, so I must visit my favorite hair salon. Since 2015 Margeaux is my only barber. I am her only client. How sweet is that? That hair wasn't gray when she first cut it. What is she doing to make that happen?

Off to Lake Mary for a cool launch party. Cricket is riding Hetch Hetchy in.

Shaman's Gallery is still waiting for her paint, but she is fully operational.

Something to temper that sickly sweet champagne.

Okay, back to work. Cricket is putting the Eyelash Girl from the Shaman's Gallery rock art panel on the transom.

Proportional striping, here we go.

A green perimeter stripe to give the decks a bit of punch.

More transom art. This is a rendition of the Hetch Hetchy valley, flooded to quench San Francisco's thirst. Restore Hetch Hetchy!

Yay! The paint arrived. Definitely worth the wait.

The name has been transferred, awaiting Vladimir to get off the river and paint the lettering.

There's nothing more we can do for her. Away she goes. Eyelash Girl is waving bye bye.

Cricket and Justin have departed for the river, but Pat had another day or two before his first trip. So we blew Surprise Canyon, RJ Johnson's old Briggs boat, to smithereens. RJ tried out my stand-up footwell last summer and got addicted. So another conversion is in the works here.

My little dory boatman summer home, Gingerbread, born in the '70s in Utah, has returned. It has a proud history of residents. For now it'll be Justin and Cricket's summer refuge between river trips.

We are thinking that strapping the wheel to the messed up axle may not be viable again. But it worked this time. Clear through downtown Flagstaff at rush hour. As the old saying goes, "When you're walking on thin ice, you might as well dance."