Monday, October 16, 2017

Building Kayaks on the Oregon Coast

I hear the sad strings of fall all around. In the Pacific Northwest, once the rains come, there seems no end for months. Folks despair. But I love the fall months, the soft edges, brilliant colors, chilly mornings, diffused light. Even the sometimes violent weather makes me feel alive.

There is no better place for a weather-watcher like myself than the coast of Oregon. Every minute brings a new drama. Call me strange, but I'm never happier than in the teeth of a gale.

Last week was pure heaven for me, as we spent our fall "vacation" building kayaks in the historic US Coast Guard Lifeboat Station, in Garibaldi, Oregon, US. There was weather aplenty, as nature unfolded in all her seasonal glory. Around here, this season brings the salmon back from their ocean journey to spawn in home waters, which of course brings out the fishermen. Talk about a hearty breed.

I'm no fisherman. Don't get me wrong, I love seafood. But I'm a single-handing sailor and there is plenty to do on a sailboat, so very little time for fishing. And when I'm not sailing, I build boats, something my fishing friends are grateful for, to the point I really don't need to fish for myself. But, I digress........

Those who know me and my passion for building boats may be surprised to hear it is not my favorite activity. Sailing is.
Thus, I found myself in a quandary last week, while we built five Pygmy Kayaks at Pier's End, in Garibaldi. The old Coast Guard Lifeguard Station is 750 feet out from shore, in deep water, so the view from every window is like that from a ship. I can hear you now -"poor old Doryman, he's stuck inside an amazing historical building, surrounded by immeasurable beauty, forced to build boats". There was some whining and wishing to be out sailing, for which I am not proud.
My crew were sympathetic, but unconcerned because they were having the time of their lives. All participants were volunteers, and only one of a dozen had ever built a boat before. We paired off to build five kayaks from kits. Kit building is not what I do, and while kits provide shortcuts, they also present their own challenges. Perhaps we'll explore that topic one day.
Pygmy kayak kits are not simple, and my condolences to those of you who have had to labor through their instruction manual. Fortunately our team had someone versed in Greek. I see my job, in mentoring a group of builders new to the trade, to play to individual strengths. The end goal for me is to build community, so the Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative is a perfect fit. Building boats as a group is a metaphor for life. The true beauty of such an exercise is how people from all walks of life and philosophies find common cause and become fast friends.
The week was exhausting - I'm no spring chicken. So, glad to be home and resting, with memories of an experience I'll never forget. Special thanks and lots of love to all who participated. Garibaldi rocks!

Doryman burning the midnight oil. It's the instructor's responsibility that there are no loose ends.

Photos courtesy of my awesome friend, Heather Hicks.

Special thanks to Kristen Penner, organizer supreme.

More images from Kristen:

And, still yet more photos on Doryman's photo site...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pier's End


As mentioned previously, Doryman's upcoming community project is to mentor the good folks in Garibaldi, Oregon, US, while they build five Pygmy Pinguino Sport kayaks. If you live anywhere on the Oregon coast, you know how beautiful it can be.

The partners in the Garibaldi Cultural Initiative are supporting historic preservation in the Tillamook Bay region, while providing youth and the community meaningful, hands-on opportunities to learn about Oregon's beautiful coastal watersheds, estuaries and maritime heritage.

You can be involved in this kayak building project at no cost. The event is scheduled for the week of October 9th-14th, so please mark your calendars and show up anytime that week ready to roll up your sleeves. No woodworking or boatbuilding experience necessary. You will leave with memories to last a lifetime. The finished kayaks will remain for use by the public, courtesy of Pier's End - Garibaldi's historic United States Coast Guard Lifeboat Station reclamation project.

More information, directions and free registration can be found at SaveTheBoathouse. Hope to see old friends and new there.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Toledo Wooden Boat Show 2017

Family Boat Build, Solar Eclipse, Garibaldi Coast Guard.

What do these all have in common? Please stay tuned...

During the Toledo Wooden Boat Show this year, the popular Family Boat Build featured the Tango Stand-Up-Paddleboard.

We built three SUPs in four days, a new design for everyone involved. Anyone familiar with building wood airplanes would recognize the method - the boards even resemble a wing.

The builders ranged from a local shipwright and his niece, to a group of Job Corps teens, to the new Toledo City Manager, who confessed he had very little wood-working experience.

That's the challenge that makes this weekend project so much fun. Everyone walks away with a unique creation they can use with pride.

Definitely one of the highlights of Doryman's year.

The show was very intimate this year. Being one of the very first geological locations in the USA to experience the recent total eclipse of the sun, we all expected a deluge of tourists, but the Oregon coast was very quiet, considering the moment. You know I like it that way - quality over quantity is the Doryman way. By now, you've all heard eclipse stories. My only observation - it's very strange to see twilight approach, with the sun in the east.

And, oh yes... in the tiny coastal town of Garibaldi, Oregon, there is an old boathouse at the end of a long finger pier, which once housed a United States Coast Guard Lifeboat station. A local group has formed the Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative, to preserve this historical maritime asset. How cool is that?

As it turns out, these fine folks have many ambitious plans to enliven the structure as an asset for the community, which currently include building five kayaks to be used by visitors and the community at large. Serendipity brought the Garibaldi Cultural Initiative to these pages, and Doryman is privileged to have been asked to mentor the build. To say this is an honor is an understatement. I made a quick stop in Garibaldi to see the site yesterday.
I'm very excited. What a week it's been.

Expect to hear more about the Garibaldi Cultural Initiative and Pier's End in the next couple months.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sucia Island Rendezvous 2017

Just back from the Sucia Island group, in the northern San Juan Islands. This was the sixteenth annual gathering in Fossil Bay on one of the northern most islands in the western contiguous US.
A great time on the water, shared with some very talented sailors, on beautiful small craft.

Photo of Doryman in Saga, by Joe Fernandez

People we meet are often fascinated with the attractive boats all gathered in one spot, but mostly amazed that small boats like ours can be safe and seaworthy. Make no mistake, there are decades, nay centuries, of cumulative experience anchored in the shallow end of the bay this weekend, every year. Stories abound, of trials and daring-do. Places visited and the pleasure (and effort) of getting there and back.

Hot on Joe's tail.
Thanks for the photo, Joe Fernandez.

This year was one for the books. Though the weather was brilliantly sunny and warm, the breezes and tidal currents were fierce. Sailors from all points of the compass had tales of battles with the elements - what one might expect during a full moon with dramatic diurnal tides. In the San Juan Islands, the currents don't always follow intuitively with the tides.

Photo of Kees Prins in Dunlin. by Marty Loken

The prudent mariner will consult current charts, yet expect the unpredictable. In a narrow channel four miles wide, the current may run up to three knots and believe me, if the wind opposes such a flow, the result will challenge even the most experienced, in a small, low-power sailing vessel.

Dale and Chris' Scamp, from Canada, photo by Marty Loken.

This year, Doryman sailed his well-founded 18' faering Valgerda, designed by John Atkin. This open design was fashioned after the Viking faerings of old and for it's size is an exceptional sea boat. The first challenge came within moments of departure. Crossing the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Port Townsend to the Islands always has something new to offer. A glassy sea twenty nautical miles across can turn fierce within minutes.

 Soon after departure, rounding Wilson Point into the commercial shipping lane, one of the all-too-frequent container ships showed up on the horizon. These behemoths clock fifteen knots or more, of speed, and are just plain scary. A breeze had just come up from the west, which opposing the tidal current created an instant boil. After the ship had passed, at close quarters, I swear it's wake kicked the wave action to a frenzy. Soon we were engulfed in standing waves well over our heads, with breaking tops and spumes of spray flying.

Kleppers and folding boats at play in the Bay.

Worthy Saga rode the maelstrom with dedication. For the next two challenging hours, only one small wave found it's way over the coaming, but unfortunately most of three gallons of seawater shot straight up and landed directly in Doryman's lap.

Photo of Bob Miller at the helm of his Drascome Longboat, Sally Forth. by Marty Loken.

Fortunately the day was warm, though, as many of you know - saltwater is very slow to dry. Despite being uncomfortably wet for awhile, the rest of the day was glorious, running north in Rosario Strait with a strong flood tide current running in our direction and a breeze on the beam.

Joe Fernandez brought his popular Cape Dory 22, Philly Girl, all the way from Texas.
Marty Loken photo.

Many mariners in attendance at Sucia had similar tales to tell. Great weather, yet challenging conditions, sometimes in your favor, others not so much. Welcome to small boat cruising in one of the premiere inland waters of the world.

Full moon over Kirk Gresham's Flicka, Koan

Even a long weekend, in such august company, is never enough. Many thanks to all my good friends, old and new, for a memorable time in such a beautiful spot. Already looking forward to next year - this gathering gets continually better and better, like fine whiskey in a barrel.

Joel Bergen's Navigator, Ellie drying out on the beach.

 Martin Schneider's Allegra 24, Clover.

 Paul Miller's Friendship.
Photo by Marty Loken.

One of my favorites. Janet and Bruce Ward's Clarity.
A Montgomery 23, from the British Canadian interior.

 Jamie Orr's new (old) Atkin schooner, Orkney Lass.

There's more, much more...
For the diehard, more photos can be found on Doryman's Flickr site.  Some photos courtesy of Marty Loken. Thank you, Marty!

And yet more photos, courtesy of Dale Simonson, the first Scamp to join us in Fossil Bay. Thank you, Dale, it was a pleasure to meet you.