Posts Tagged ‘Joel White’

Though this holiday weekend may be popular for getting out of town, I’m chilling near home after two fantastic weekends on and near the water. There might have been an awful lot of driving between these two weekends (around 1,000 or 1,100 miles), but it was totally worth it. Let me explain.

For Christmas I got my girlfriend a gift certificate to the Tucker House in Friday Harbor, Wa. I was able to snag a pretty sweet deal off of Groupon, which helped make it possible, for two nights at the bed an breakfast. It started off with a drive up to Seattle where we spent Thursday night, and then catching the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor on Friday morning. With good weather in the forecast we were able to continue keeping the cost down by leaving my car in Anacortes and just taking bikes on the ferry. Bikes on a ferry seems like a good way to start off just about any weekend.


We arrived in Anacortes early in the day, so we dropped our extra stuff at the bed and breakfast, and rode our bikes out to Roche Harbor. Clearly, life is rough in Roche Harbor. In other news if you see a Llama, and call out “Llama” on San Juan island, because Llamas are kinda funny, and your girlfriend calls our “Camel” in response, its not some sort of “Llama, Llama, Camel” joke that you’ve never heard before, there really is a camel.   From the dock in Roche Harbor:  Yup, Tucker House is pretty sweet. A cheese platter, fresh cookies and chilled champaigne greeted us when we made it back to the Bed and Breakfast that afternoon. The large Jaccuzi tub wasn’t bad after all that riding either.  Pleasant evenings of dock-walking were had:  Saturday we took one of their complimentary kayaks out. We caught the local taxi which happens to have kayak racks on top out to Jackson Beach and poked around, paddling close to shorelines looking for starfish, crabs and anything else that we might see in the calm, clear water. We also saw dozens of harbor seals, which were great fun to watch. There is something so dog like about their inquisitiveness, I’d almost be tempted to bring a tennis ball out to throw for them, just to see what they would do. Terrible idea, I know.   We took the inter island ferry back to Anacortes on Sunday to see more of the islands. We both marveled at how nice everyone was. Drivers gave us lots of space on our bikes, the taxi driver was super nice, the other folks we met during breakfasts at the Tucker house, and the folks working at the Tucker house were all nice as can be. It was a really wonderful weekend. I would gladly go back again.

Less than a week later, I packed up for a very different sort of weekend, though it also involved a stay in Seattle and leaving the car in Anacortes. This time I was headed to the Pull And Be Damned messabout. I’d hear about it last year, but didn’t have my boat ready. This year I took the time to revarnish my oars, sew on the leathers, and head up (thanks to Paul Gartside for the oar leathering instructions on his website: http://www.gartsideboats.com/faq/oar-leathers.html)

  My car all loaded up! As my dad said, its a good car to boat ratio.   We arrived a bit late, at around 11:30 for the messabout and as a consequence had to wait a little while to lift my boat off the trailer and into the water. For some reason they don’t have a boat ramp. With our boats in the water and loaded up we headed over to the dock. I don’t have pictures of the dock, but let me describe it a bit. The event took place on the lawn and small straight dock at the Seafarers Memorial Park in one corner of a larger marina. The event was pretty much a social gathering, with folks tying up their boats sometimes up to three deep from the dock to make space, folks taking each others boats our for a row and coming and going for short sails while folks chatted on the dock. It was low key and fun to catch up with folks I’ve met before and meeting new folks. It was a beautiful collection of boats. The after party was a night of camping on Saddlebag Island, a little over 3 miles from the marina.

The water was just a bit choppy on the way out and the winds were light. After my brother quite literally paddled a large circle around me I decided to drop my sail and rowed the rest of the way to the island. As we neared the island we passed the Sea Pearl 21, caught up with a pair of Scamps, and saw our first Porpoises. We paused for a few minutes to watch the Porpoises, usually in pairs or maybe threes come up to breath and to watch their backs arc back into the water. We pulled into the north facing bay, and were greeted by the boats which had already arrived.    It was a beautiful evening, with the light getting better and better as the day wore on. It was a wonderful group of folks to hang out with. There were around 20 or 25 boats total that night.  My boat with Rowan behind it:    The following morning my brother and I got up early to join the after-after party: A circumnavigation of Guemes Island. We knew it would be about 14 miles around, the winds were predicted to be light. We would be catching the ebb tide as we left Saddlebag Island, Slack would occur while we were in between Cypress and Guemes, and we would catch the start of the flood as we came back into Anacortes.

As we left, winds were light, but within a short while sails were set and we started ghosting along to the north west. I found that through some combination of shorter waterline length, and a smaller shorter sail that I was losing ground to the other boats, and I switched back to oars. Under oars I was able to easily catch up with any of the boats and ended up having a nice conversation with Erik Hvalsoe in his HV-16. I was able to take easy strokes with a moment of rest between each stroke while he sailed along lazily. It was a very relaxing way to start the day.    As we neared the northwest corner of the island Joseph in his Pygmy Coho and I were near the front of the fleet. We slowed down before heading out into the channel between Guemes and Cypress. The winds had slackened enough that most boats had switched to oars at this point. James warned us again that there might be a tide rip extending out from a headlands on cypress towards the middle of the channel that we should watch out for.

As we rounded the corner of Guemes we encountered some moderately chaotic water with a strong current. There must have been fish or something in the water because in addition to the harbor seals there must have been dozens of Porpoises. It seemed like everywhere you looked you would see their backs and dorsal fins rolling over in the water. The Shearwater took all of the rough water in stride and as we traveled south and the wind from the south picked up a bit the water calmed down.

  There were some interesting eddies near the headlands extending into the channel from Cypress, but nothing particularly noteworthy. The other boats switched back to sails and for a period of time as we neared the southwest corner of the island and the winds shifted to the south west I set sail as well. Once again, I found that I was losing ground to most of the boats and switched back to oars. In the channel between Anacortes and Guemes the wind seemed to pick up some along with the waves. I considered switching back to sail here, but felt confident and safe continuing under oars. It was a fast run as I made the most of the following waved and the Shearwaters slippery shape. I thoroughly enjoyed it as I was able to hold my ground while the other boats sailed. As we rounded the corner towards the marina and the winds died I caught up with and passed the boats which had been sailing in front of me and continued to the marina. We finished the circumnavigation and pulled our boats out of the water around 1pm, leaving me plenty of time to get back to Portland before it got too late.

It was a wonderful way to spend a weekend, and a great introduction to sail and oar cruising in the Salish Sea. The trip helped build my confidence in my boat under oars, and has left me looking forward to more trips of the type. I look forward to seeing all of the folks I met over the weekend again, and I imagine that if the event is held again next year, I’ll be there.

Joseph in his Pygmy Coho: These two weekends were quite different: One spent staying in a posh bed and breakfast, while the second weekend I found myself sleeping in a tent pitched on what could be best described as a flatter patch of ground than the ground around it. They also had many important similarities which included two items which are particularly important in my mind; lots of time spent exerting myself outside, and time spent with lots of good people. Between weekends like that and all the time I’ve been spending woodworking during the week, life feels pretty good right now.


Read Full Post »

Over the weekend I took my Shearwater out to explore a new spot. Too often, I have taken my kayak or even the Shearwater out to familiar spots. There is nothing wrong with revisiting favorite spots, but its important to cover new ground, especially in a boat where there always seems to be some promise of adventure.

After spending some time on google maps and looking for boat ramps I decided to check out the Chinook Landing Marine Park. It is located about a mile west of where the Sandy river enters the Columbia. The put in was quiet and I got underway quickly under oars. The weather reports predicted light and variable winds so I had not even bothered to bring my sailing rig along. It would also have been a hindrance for parts of my intended journey. I had never checked out the spot where the Sandy river hits the Columbia and while looking at google maps, I had discovered a small channel running that split off from from about a mile up the Sandy to the Columbia well east of where most of the rivers meet. Seemed like a worth while channel to investigate.

The initial row upriver went well, working against the current, but with lovely weather and few other boats to contend with. The entrance to the Sandy lived up to its name. The mouth of the river was braided with various shallow islands interspersed. I ducked into the first channel I came to as much to get out of the current as anything, and promptly grounded. I proceeded to form and test a wide variety of conjectures as to which bank or sandy island I was too close to and where I would find deeper water, but the moral of the story is that I ended up walking my boat through shallow water much of the way over the mouth of the river before finding what could be called the main channel. The water was cold on my bare feet, but not unbearable. I found myself wondering how much time Lewis and Clark spent wading through water while dragging their various boats.

After finding the main channel I was able to row perhaps a quarter or half mile before grounding again. This time I didn’t have to walk my boat quite as far before finding deeper water. By this time I was definitely beginning to feel like a proper part-time adventurer by this point. After another 15 minutes of rowing up river, always keeping an eye on the depth of the sandy bottom I spotted a narrow side channel that led into the woods.

As I neared the channel I watched the river bottom become much more rocky and carefully maneuvered myself to where the current pulled me down into the side channel I had seen in the maps. It was narrow and I could see riffles in the surface down stream just before it ducked around a bend. I pointed my stern down the channel so that I could see where I was going and wondered what I would find.

I carefully watched the riffles and worked to stay in what seemed like the deepest portions while avoiding fallen trees as the narrow channel wound its way through bend after bend. Eventually it slowed and I found myself among a collection of low islands. I pulled my grandfathers binoculars out of their case to see what birds were around as I continued drifting stern down flow. I spotted a kingfisher which I always enjoy, but didn’t see too much else.

While I was drifting backwards, I found myself musing about the parallels between exploring new areas by boat and starting new endeavors in your life. I didn’t expect to find myself grounded so many times, and I didn’t know what would happen around each bend of the small channel I drifted backwards down. As I start a small business with an initial run of the chair I recently designed, there are so many unknowns. I’m not sure where it will lead or what all the challenges are that I will face. Thankfully, at the moment I am still doing a lot of teaching for the fabrication team at ADX and teaching with the boat school, so my current risk is limited. I’m also excited that with a bit of luck I will have a bit of space to keep more tools and chair parts at ADX which will help my productivity. At the moment, I am excited about my future prospects and proud of the work it has taken to get where I’m at. I’m excited to see what’s around the next bend. Along the way I’ll try to enjoy the view.

IMG_1489 IMG_1490 IMG_1493Look! Aquatic mammal!

Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge in the distance. If you zoom in, you can see the Vista House.IMG_1496 My grandfathers binoculars.IMG_1491 All the rails, arm parts, and legs roughed out for 5 chairs.IMG_1499

Read Full Post »

Before starting to share my newest endeavors involving chairs, I thought it would be good to share the end of the process building my Joel White designed Shearwater that I finished up at the end of the summer. Where I left off in early July the deck beams were fitted but not yet glued in. With those pieces glued in I decided to coat the interiors of the compartments in epoxy before painting. These were the only parts of the boat that I epoxy coated.IMG_0935 IMG_0933 With the deck beams glued in and trimmed flush with each other I started fitting the decks, thwarts and other interior details.IMG_0931With the boat upright, hardware in hand, and shaping on the oars proceeding well I had to mock things up. Keeps the imagination alive and motivation up!IMG_0929First primer on the boat! I used Interlux Pre-Kote for the priming and painted the interior with Interlux’s Brightside in Bristol Beige.
IMG_0936I managed to coax my twin brother into helping me assemble the trailer one weekend while he was down from Seattle. It went together easily, is light weight, and highly adjustable though I still need to trouble shoot why some of the less important lights don’t work.
IMG_0938 Paint inside the compartment.IMG_0939Here you can see the middle thwart sitting on the thwart supports and straddling the center frame. I took inspiration from Iain Oughtred’s designs and his book on lapstrake boat construction in many of the alterations I made to the design, and the tapering shape of the thwart supports are one example of this.IMG_0940 The finished trailer! Waiting for a boat.IMG_0942The slots for the mast and hatch cut out. I cut them out roughtly by drilling and using a jigsaw, but used a router with a flush trim bit to finish the job precisely.
IMG_0946 IMG_0947Here you can see the accent pieces I added to the inboard ends of the compartments which are rabbeted to sit down over the joint between the deck and the bulkhead. Their inboard edges are curved to follow the curve the thwarts which taper towards their outboard ends.
IMG_0953IMG_0956Ah, the mast partner. I built this fun little assembly out of Oregon White Oak to tie things together and reinforce the spot where the mast passes through the deck. It pleases me.IMG_0960Time to mask before painting! I tried to keep varnishing down to a reasonable level, and think I struck a reasonable ballance.
IMG_0963Whoa! That first coat of primer is always kind of exciting and shocking as the boat transforms.IMG_0964IMG_0965Here the interior paint is on and the initial coats of varnish are on the exterior. I couldn’t help myself on the stem and stern-post; all that lovely clear tight-grained fir! Varnish down to the waterline! Oh yea, and the shear strake. That got it too.
IMG_0968IMG_0969Flipped over again for final filling. fairing and sanding.IMG_0973With primer on the outside the varnish really started to pop.
IMG_0978-0Painted and ready for hardware. Here you can also see the brass half oval applied to the stem and most of the way down the keel.IMG_0981IMG_0984IMG_0985With painting complete it was time to invite friends over for a bbq for a defenestration/ oot-the-windae party! I would have more pictures of it going out the window, but it happened too damned fast! I could have built a boat which was at least an inch wider and deeper! Its always interesting to see how different a boat looks outside and sitting lower. I was struck by how shallow a boat it is!IMG_0990-0IMG_0989-0

IMG_0987IMG_0988-0After a weekend which included rowing the new boat several dozen miles, it was time to get down to work on the sailing rig. I couldn’t find any gudgeons which were relatively inexpensive or which wouldn’t have to be shipped from overseas, so I bought some brass ( I know, but realistically the boat will not be spending all that much time in salt water), and I got some help machining my own. Many thanks to David at Veteran Bicycle! Here they are partially shaped.IMG_0995Tapering and 8 siding the mast and spars was done initially with a power planer. So much noise and so many shavings in a short period of time! Final shaping to the lines was done with hand planes.
IMG_0994Gotta love 16 siding.IMG_0997Here the rudder with push-pull tiller is most of the way complete.IMG_0999With the sailing rig done it was time to head north for the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend!IMG_1001

Parting shots! Maybe I should have taken more time to get to know my boat first, but it performed admirably on a its initial shake down trip starting in Cathlamet Washington and sailing back to Portland. I met up with Bruce and Kim on their respective Arctic Terns my first morning out, and we had a wonderful time, with following winds almost the entire trip.
IMG_1018 Sometimes you need to get a sense of scale for how large your boat really is. Thanks to Bruce for taking this shot!IMG_1028 A quiet and peaceful evening sail this past fall.IMG_1207 IMG_1204Having completed the boat, I couldn’t be happier. It is fun to row and sail. Its quick to rig and to put away. That being said it is a small boat. On several occasions when the wind and waves have started to build I’ve dropped sail and switched to oars. Every time I’ve done so I have been struck by how much things quiet down and by how well it rows even in fairly rough water. At some point I would like to build a larger sail and oar boat for adventures further afield in more open water, but for the time being I’m happy to get this boat out and to enjoy it as much as I can. Its also hard not to smile every time I pull the tarp back.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the nerdy details of the build. I’d be happy to answer!

Read Full Post »

Inevitably, I’ve been distracted. Before getting down to business, allow me to illustrate why, and perhaps justify in part why I have been so tardy in sharing any progress on the Shearwater.

Back in early April, I became the lead instructor for the Wind and Oar Boat School. With that increase in responsibility came a decrease in personal boat building time. Check out a brief glimpse at what some of my classes have involved:

Building models with a group of middle school students at Cascade Heights Public Charter School. Don’t worry, it wasn’t all fun and games. Among other things I had them do a displacement estimate on an existing design for a sail and oar boat. I thought that was fun.20140704-185705-68225749.jpg

I had the pleasure of helping my high school students from Merlo High School finish an Arch Davis designed Penobscot 13:


Fitting the oarlock sockets. 20140704-185837-68317437.jpg

Shaping the tiller.


Post launch.

Somewhere in there a lovely Bevin’s Skiff was built by a group of students from Southwest Charter School:20140704-185704-68224940.jpg

Currently I am working with a group of students at Jackson Middle School building another Bevin’s Skiff, and below are a few glimpses of the Arch Davis designed Sand Dollar being built by SEI students at ADX.
20140704-185839-68319817.jpg 20140721-225011-82211934.jpgSomehow, after teaching boat building to my students each day, I still enjoy going home to work on my own boat. At times, there has been less time left over than I would like, but considerable progress has certainly been made since my last update.

After the last update, the next pair of planks were patterned, scarfed and mounted. I got most of a final plank out of the 16 foot sheet previously scarfed, but the rest of the planks were scarfed together out of three pieces each to conserve plywood.

20140704-175540-64540396.jpg 20140704-175541-64541228.jpg 20140704-175542-64542060.jpg 20140704-175542-64542936.jpg 20140704-175544-64544831.jpg 20140704-175543-64543840.jpg

After another round of beveling, the sheer strakes were finally patterned, scarfed, cut and mounted.



With planking completed, my short-lived tiny plywood cathedral was complete.20140704-183733-67053449.jpg20140704-183734-67054309.jpgBefore the boat could be flipped over, the external keel,stem and sternpost were pieced together, fitted, shaped and mounted.20140704-183604-66964473.jpg20140704-183605-66965272.jpg

Finally, after many months of waiting, the boat was flipped over. The stem and sternpost were left quite long. They continue to be quite flamboyant in a viking-esque sort of way.






With the boat upright, a variety of projects were started. Among the first was a complete redesign of the centerboard.

[Warning: the next section may be best reserved for only the nerdiest among you.] From my first look at the plans, I didn’t like the shape of the centerboard. It was a low aspect ratio wedge, and looked impossibly difficult to put a good foil shape on. Perhaps I should have kept in mind the thought another Shearwater builder shared with me, suggesting that the boat is quite tender and a sail rig would only be reasonable as a downwind rig. This idea would suggest I should have left well enough alone and not worried about upwind efficiency or doing my best to shape the board into a NACA 0012 foil shape. I suppose I must be stubborn or something, because I ignored those ideas. I embarked on a geometric journey far beyond what I ever expected. Who knew the geometry of a centerboard was so complicated? The brief explanation of the process is that I estimated the location of the center of lateral effort of the current centerboard (just the board, not the whole boat), and used this boat as the starting point of a new board. The length of the new board was limited by the location of the central frame, and the length limitations on the board helped dictate the width of the board, as my goal was to design the new board to have a similar area to the old design (theoretically, since it has a higher aspect ratio than the old design, it could be a bit smaller. I might have ended up making it a bit smaller, but not by more than 10%).

The board is built up of several long pieces of clear fir epoxied together. I worked to achieve a NACA 0012 foil section, and have subsequently fiberglassed it and filled the weave with epoxy thickened with graphite powder. In addition to being efficient it should be nearly bomb proof.




20140704-184252-67372361.jpgAt some point work began on the spruce oars. Though I have picked at this project and they are a bit further along now than is shown below, they have not been a top priority. Their design is a combination of the design provided on the plans for the Shearwater and the shape of the Pete Culler oars described in Wooden Boat Magazine, issue 71.20140704-184249-67369981.jpg

Ah yes, back to the boat itself. The gunwales. The lower edge is cut to rise at a 20 degree bevel instead of being cut to a rectangular cross section. They also taper down in both their height and width as they reach the bow and stern. Gluing them on was an all clamps on deck sort of occasion.


To further stabilize the shape and departing from the plans, I decided to add breasthooks in each end. The pieces were glued together with 10 degrees of camber. The centerboard trunk and also 20140704-184750-67670958.jpg


The light used to highlight gaps between the breasthooks and sheer planks also create wonderfully dramatic ambiance to work in. I highly recomend it.20140704-185156-67916139.jpg


The mast step goes together in an example of “how many clamps can you fit in a small space?” The mast step also supports the sides and back of a mast trunk because the mast will be stepped through the deck of the forward watertight compartment.20140704-185157-67917041.jpg

Oh look, my trailer is here! 4 boxes, with one more to come. Some assembly required. I decided to bite the bullet and get a brand new SUT-250-S from Trailex. Included in this decision were the fact that the lightweight trailer would put less stress on my car, it would be better suited to carrying a lightweight boat, and whenever I end up selling the boat it may increase resale value. I thought about trying to get a used trailer, but the thought of dealing with repacking bearings or perhaps dealing with old wiring seemed like concerns I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with.20140704-185157-67917901.jpg

The bulkheads getting fitted along with deck framing. I decided to go with fairly large rectangular hatches to improve access to the compartments under the decks.20140704-185304-67984848.jpg




Oh yes, and somewhere in there I had the pleasure of being able to assist a former professional sailmaker, as he assembled my lovely little sail. It looks awesome, and I can’t wait to see it hauled up my mast (which isn’t built yet)!20140704-183235-66755003.jpg20140704-183235-66755787.jpg20140704-185707-68227289.jpgAt this point things are looking slightly different almost every single day. The framing for the decks is nearly all fitted. As soon as those pieces are glued, I’ll be ready to fillet the joints, coat the interior of the compartments, and to paint the inside of the compartments before the decks go on. The slot for the centerboard is cut and the centerboard trunk is nearly ready to install. I’m getting ready to put the supports for the thwarts in. I’ll try to post updates more regularly as things progress. With summer progressing entirely too quickly, my current goal is to get it ready for rowing as soon as possible, with the sail rig soon to follow. Wish me luck!

Oh, one last thing: If you have any super nerdy questions, feel free to ask away. I skipped over many details of the process, but would be glad to share more information if anyone is interested.

Read Full Post »