Category: FETCH Across America (Kees Prins)

18 Nov


Fetch; Returning home.


After getting back from the Small Reach Regatta I worked on the Loon drawings for another 10 days and had them scanned and printed in Bangor. I handed them to Mike O’Brien who was going to write an article about her for the November issue of the magazine. During this time I enjoyed my stay at the WoodenBoat School campground. Conveniently, I joined the meal program, which allowed me to just show up at mealtime and munch away. I didn’t need to spend any time buying and preparing food. Once in a while I would wander through the shop and chat with students and instructors. Greg Rössel was teaching lofting and boat building fundamentals. On occasion we would hang out together at meal times and he would always have a story or two up his sleeve. He loves to talk and is quite the character. In another room Geoff Burke was teaching the intricacies of building Adirondack Guideboats; beautiful delicate lapstrake boats with sawn frames. He was intrigued by Fetch’s Gunther rig and we often discussed different ways of rigging it, because he had a commission for a boat with that rig.  John Harris was guiding along a CLC kit building class of one of his designs; the Sassafras canoe. I know John from my time in the Maritime Center in Port Townsend and we had some interesting discussions. Nick Schade was teaching strip planked canoe building. I knew him from a visit to Mystic Seaport years ago. I had stayed at his house, where he has a small shop on the water building beautiful canoes and kayaks. I had long discussions with one of the students who was thinking about having me build a 20’ sailboat for him. A few weeks later he let me know he had bought a used boat, so that was the end of that.


repair class at the WoodenBoat School


Geoff Burke (left) teaching Adirondack Guideboat building


adirondack guideboat under construcion


sawn frames


Nick Schade (middle) teaching strip planked canoe building


Greg Rössel (middle) teaching lofting


Kerry, a former student of the boat school in Michigan, where I taught last winter, invited me to come to Camden for the Schooner Festival. He was participating in the building of an irish Currach. This was a project that was initiated by Lance Lee, who I had met about 17 years ago in Maine. I was moving to Holland at that time with my family and Lance and I had spend a few hours talking about setting up a boat center of some kind in Holland. It would be nice to see him again, so off to Camden I went. I left Fetch at her mooring at the school.

I stopped in the co-op in Blue Hill for coffee and happened to read a small poster about community. It made me think about where I would want to live and what I was looking for. So far the plan was to go south after my stay in Maine and spend time in the Chesapeake and Carolina. Somehow I wasn’t convinced that I would want to do that in Fetch however. Instead of driving from one sailing area to the other I started thinking about being in a bigger boat and staying on the water. I started looking at ads for sailboats in the 27’ range, like a Cape Dory 27 or 25. I found that I could buy one of these for the same amount that I could sell Fetch for.





It was nice to be in a place like Camden after having stayed in Brooklin for a while. Brooklin has one convenience store, two restaurants and a library, which is pretty basic. Camden felt like uptown, with lots of restaurants, gift shops, some fancy houses and a real harbor. The schooner festival had brought a lot of wooden boats to town and it was fun touring the windjammers. On shore the ‘quick and dirty’ Sika boat building challenge was in full swing. Odd contraptions, that sometimes just only vaguely resembled functioning boats, were constructed by enthusiasts of all ages to be raced on Sunday. I met the folks of the Currach project. The instructor had come over from Ireland and happened to be a good friend of an irish boat builder who attended my school in Holland about 15 years prior. Small world.


arriving in Camden


schooner festival in Camden


A yawl boat of one of the schooners. The mother ship has no engine


inside a windjammer


irish currach under construction


quick and dirty boat building



final race


I was quite taken by the art of Buckley Smith who had a booth there. His art is very colorful and lively and he really knows how to draw a boat with the wind blowing through the rigging. He lives on a converted workboat making art and I found that quite inspiring. Another guy I met, Tom, had single handedly built a substantial Pinky Schooner called Prophet. He is a furniture builder and had spent six summers working on this Schooner, built all the hardware and sails as well and now lives on her. Amazing what people can pull off.




Tom (on right) built this schooner by himself


Tom builds those chairs for a living


He also built the hardware and made the sails


After the festival, still trying to meet up with Lance Lee, I followed the folks of the Currach project to Nobleboro, where the boat shop is located. Lance owns the shop, called the Mill, which is located in a rural setting. Lance and his assistant Arista are trying to establish another apprentice shop and were looking for an instructor to take lead in building boats. I was tickled by the idea of teaching in such a setting in Maine, so I went to check it out. I spend a few days, talked to different people there and watched the Currach getting framed up. I enjoyed the community aspect of it, with a simple kitchen in back and living quarters upstairs, but the building needed a lot of work and typically no one lived there in the winter because it’s too cold without insolation and good heat. I decided to go talk to Lance at his house in Rockland, where we met up and discussed matters. About a week later I decided not to go for it. Later during my trip I visited one of Lance’s first apprentice shops in Bath. He had started that in 1972 and in 1974 John Wilson started the WoodenBoat Magazine. It dawned to me that it was around that time and here in Maine that the wooden boat revival had started. At that time few people saw the value in messing about in wooden boats.


The Mill, Lance’s next apprentice shop



currach was getting framed up



tools in the shop



First WoodenBoat Magazine mentioning Lance Lee


Back in Brooklin, I packed Fetch with fresh supplies and headed out for my last cruise on Maine’s beautiful coast. I was heading toward Mount Desert Island and found favorable current and wind. At Casco Passage, north of Swans Island, I was bucking the eb for a bit and the waves got quite lively. One reef in the main took care of that. I got to Southwest Harbor averaging about 4.5 knots and was excited to feel the Atlantic swell as I got out of the protection of Great Gott Island. Fetch in an Atlantic swell; that was something! The boat started on the Pacific coast in Seattle, was then sold to James in Anacortes after which I converted her to a cabin cruiser in Port Townsend and now here she was; on the other side of the continent.


navigating through Casco Passage


entering Somes Sound


I had heard that Somes Sound was worth a visit, so I sailed past Southwest Harbor and headed into the fjord-like inlet. I had to motor the last mile and tied up to a mooring in Somes Harbor about 5 hours after I left Brooklin. Rain set in at night and the morning was pretty wet as well. In spite the wetness I took a stroll ashore and learned that back in 1761, Abraham Somes was the first permanent settler on the island. I went back to Southwest Harbor and enjoyed a nice lunch in town. I hiked up Flying Mountain to get a good overview of the area. Past the Cranberry Islands I could clearly see the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.



Friendship Sloop in Southwest Harbor


Fetch tied up to public dock


hiking to Flying Mountain


view from Flying Mountain


hmmm, I could live there…


After spending the night tied up to the public dock I had breakfast in town and set sail to go around the east side of the island. The winds were fairly light except for some unexpected blasts coming down from Gorham Mountain. After a pleasant three hour sail I arrived in Bar Harbor; just in time for lunch. The little town was busy with folks who were just unloaded from a gigantic cruise ship. Most of this island is Acadia National Park and very popular with tourists. I had a tasty pasta dish and a beer at the Rupununi bar.


fancy houses with view of the Atlantic Ocean


nice yacht


lunch in Bar Harbor


tastes good after a sail


Wind was up and the sun was hot, so onward around the north side of the island. The wind kept increasing and when my double reefed main with working jib became too much, I had a choice of either turn the motor on or bend on my storm jib. Normally I try to avoid changing jibs under way on Fetch, but this time I gave it a try. I kept the main partially filled to keep way, tied the tiller off and crawled forward with the storm jib in hand. Fetch behaved well and I got it done without mishaps. I beat to weather for another hour till I arrived at the bridge connecting the island with the mainland. The chart showed 25’ clearance under the bridge and some shallow water under it. At low tide, I couldn’t find a way through the thin water and decided to call it a day and anchor in a protected cove. The next day I made it through and set sail again. The forecast called for high winds later that day and I was beating into tide and wind, so I didn’t make much headway. I could wait till the afternoon for a more favorable tide, but then the wind would be against it and was expected to be stronger as well. The way back to Brooklin was quite exposed in places and the prospect of beating into big waves didn’t appeal to me, so I doused sail and turned on the iron horse. I just didn’t feel like waiting another day to return. After motoring about two hours I bounced across exposed Blue Hill Bay and found shelter in Naskeag Harbor before tide turned and it would all get too crazy.



finally enough water to go under the bridge


motoring back to Brooklin


Back in Brooklin my time in Maine was coming to an end, but somehow I didn’t feel like going south to the Chesapeake. After talking to some people about Cape Breton I decided to go north instead. I left Fetch with Eric Dow for a few days and headed up the coast. Due to the fog I didn’t see much of the scenery and in Saint John it was so thick that I could barely read the road signs. I ducked into a campground and spend the night. The next day I marveled at the gigantic tides in Fundy National Park. The town Alma claims to have the biggest tides in the world! Indeed at low tide the water was way the heck out there, not only far away, but also clearly way below where I was at the high tide line. They have a tide range of 46 feet, which is about four times as much as in my hometown Port Townsend! It can rise about 6 feet per hour. The few fishing boats I found were high and dry at low tide, supported by small cradles under their bilges, waiting for water to return. I remembered boats in England being tied to the quay without water in sight.



mudflats at low tide


no water to be seen


back afloat


Further up the coast I visited the Hopewell Rocks, big chunks of rock seemingly standing on stilts, undermined by wave action, with tufts of trees on top. At low tide one can walk around them and at high tide one can kayak through them.


Hopewell Rocks


carved by waves


As I went further north onto Nova Scotia I hit the tail end of some tropical storm with torrents of rain and very gray skies. After spending the night in Antigonish, the rainy weather continued for another day till I arrived almost at the north end of Cape Breton. Finally, as the weather cleared a bit, did I see where I was at. The Gulf of St. Lawrence to my west and to the north, somewhere beyond the horizon was Newfoundland. At the north end of the island I found a small pleasant RV camp right on the cliff overlooking St. Lawrence Bay and enjoyed the views. One of the campers pointed out a trail on the map to a high viewpoint. I drove up there and hiked for a few hours and got to some awesome views. On the trail I noticed a fresh imprint of a bear paw, which made me a little nervous.


Cape Breton coast line


view from camping at north end of the island



vista at the end of my hike


nice views

Oops, that’s a bear print


The scenic road around Cape Breton Island is called the Cabot Trail and I continued it on the east side going back south. Back in Antigonish I had the tires of my van replaced for new ones and the ride got a lot smoother after that. I increasingly got more restless about my trip. I was heading back to Maine and still didn’t know where to go after that. My little detour from Brooklin up north had been a bit further than I had expected and by the time I was back there I had driven 1600 miles, which is the same as about halfway across the US!

I picked up Fetch and started south, still not resolved about my next destination. I called Lance Lee and told him I had to pass on his job offer. I also passed on another job offer that I got in Brooklin. As I was slowly leaving Maine I realized I didn’t want to go down to the Chesapeake. It didn’t feel right to me. Instead I decided to go back to Port Townsend. It felt like I belonged there. I had family, friends and a network there. I’d lived there for 10 years, which was the longest I’ve lived anywhere. I also wanted to get back before money would run out again. I had a long way ahead of me, but looked at it as if I was going to cross an ocean. I would try to get into the routine of driving all day for at least a week and enjoy the ride.

I dawned to me that I could get on I-90 near Boston and stay on the very same road all the way to Seattle! About 3100 miles (5000 km) on one single road. So that’s what I did and the only time I diverted from it was to visit Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. It was amazing to see those huge faces that look so alive, carved out of rock. They had removed eight hundred million pounds of stone to create that carving.


beginning of I-90


cruising along



Fetch at Mount Rushmore


They had removed eight hundred million pounds of rock to make this


One morning, in the foothills of the Rockies, I waited for the snow to melt in one of the passes when my former brother and sister in law, Louis and Kindy, caught up with me. They had also been on the east coast and were right behind me. We spend some time together in Missoula after which we went separate ways again.


Louis and Kindy also live in PT


Rocky Mountains


Fetch in the snow in late September


Columbia River


Still on I-90 arriving in Seattle


My sons Theo and Nico share an apartment in Seattle and my arrival couldn’t have been planned better, because it was on Nico’s birthday. It had taken me 7 days of driving on I-90 to get there. I had left Port Townsend on April 22, 2012 and now it was September 27, 2013. In that year and a half I had worked 10 months and covered about 15,300 miles with Fetch behind my trustworthy Dodge campervan. It had been a memorable trip with great sailing and meeting wonderful people. I had now seen a big chunk of this continent, which was part of the reason to go.

Back in Port Townsend, I considered moving onto a live-aboard and saw a few boats, but decided to live ashore instead. Within a week I was working again on the boat I worked on last summer. One of the boats I had looked at, a Newport 28, kept calling my name and finally I couldn’t resist…. Next summer I’ll be exploring the inside of Vancouver Island with a boat I can stand up in. Fetch is for sale.


back in the Northwest


my new boat to go north with next summer

08 Sep


Fetch; Small Reach Regatta


Shortly after the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta (see last post) I set off from Brooklin to sail about 55 miles to the Muscongus Bay, where the Small Reach Regatta was to be held. Late in the afternoon on August 10, the current and weather were still favorable, so I decided to sail a few hours and find an anchorage for the night. Maine coastal waters are a wonderful cruising ground, with many small islands, rocks, challenging tides and currents. There are rocks everywhere and most of them are unmarked, so you have to keep a constant eye on the chart and the GPS. Just before Stonington I found a nice cove for the night. A neat little Tancook Whaler shared the anchorage.

leaving late afternoon for the Small Reach Regatta.


keep an eye out for rocks!


Tancook Whaler anchored next to me


The next day started with a nice breeze and I sailed past Stonington early in the morning. Just as I started crossing the 5.5 mile East Penobscot Bay the wind died, so I started my iron horse and got to the other side in about an hour. I typically don’t want to linger on open stretches of water, since one never knows what’s coming. Snaking through the Fox Island Thorofare got me to North Haven just in time for lunch. One thing about Maine waters is that there are many lobster boats about. Each village has a real working town atmosphere. The waters are just covered with lobster pots and sometimes require steering a slalom course to avoid them. Fortunately they use sinking lines nowadays. They used to use more floating lines so it was easy to get fouled with them. Most pots have two buoys about 15 feet apart, which makes it even harder to avoid them.




lobster pots everywhere.


North Haven


Next was crossing the West Penobscot Bay, which is also about 5.5 miles to Monroe Island. I was close reaching, doing about 5 knots the whole way. As I got there however the wind suddenly picked up a few notches and together with the current made for a challenging upwind slog. After reefing and giving it about half an hour I was soon fed up with it, turned the motor on and found some shelter. I was able to creep along the shore to my next anchorage at Spruce Head Island in the Muscle Ridge Channel.

All this time Tom Jackson was also sailing and rowing in his Nomans Land Boat to go to this event. That night I called him and he was close to where I was on Andrews Island, about two miles over to the east. He doesn’t have a motor and sailed in company with a small yacht which did, so he was able to get a tow once in a while.

To catch the ebb I would have to get up early (4:30) and I woke up by the wake of a lobster boat. These guys start mostly at the earliest light. They also don’t believe in exhausts and keeping their wake down… After motoring for quite a while I got to Port Clyde and then to Friendship Harbor. Only then I found some wind for the last hour of my trip.


motoring at sunrise


Friendship Harbor, a real lobster town.


lobster boats everywhere


a Rozinante at her mooring


At about 2 PM I got to my destination; Hog Island in the Muscongus Bay. The island has an interesting history. In early 1900 it was bought by a woman who wanted to save the island from clear cutting. Since then, around 1936, is was sold to the Audubon Society which together with Friends of Hog island still runs the camp today. This was the first location in the US, where educators were taught about ecology. About 40 years ago, a young scientist called Stephen Kress, started putting young Puffin chicks on an island not far from there called Easter Egg Rock. Puffins were then about extinct on the coast of Maine due to hunting. After putting about 8 chicks in make-up nests and feeding them till the fledged, it took a full 8 years before the first Puffins returned! All this time Stephen kept checking and checking. Now there are a few hundred Puffins that reside in the area, but they are constantly threatened by gulls, eagles and owls. Every year lots of volunteers (called puffineers) stay on the islands day and night to monitor the Puffins and scare off the predators. Some dedication.

Just as I got to the island, there was a reunion going on of ‘Project Puffin’. I was immediately offered lunch, showers and a place to anchor Fetch.


Audubon Camp on Hog Island


I was offered free lunch instantly


surrounded by water


lots of cabins to stay in


early morning


view from my cockpit




The Small Reach Regatta wasn’t going to happen for another day and I joined the Audubon folks on the schooner Roseway for a ride to Easter Egg Rock to find some Puffins. Despite the dense fog we found some Puffins, but most of them had already migrated elsewhere. Schooner Roseway is an experiential educational program for youngsters, which hails from Maine in the summer and from the Virgin Islands in the winter.


schooner Roseway hauling anchor



lots of lines to pull


youngsters as international ambassadors


Stephen Kress and his first assistant who started the Puffin Project 40 years ago


we could barely see the lobster boats


Easter Egg Rock in thick fog


On Wednesday the first sailers started to arrive. About 50 small row/sail boats were scheduled to meet at Hog Island for the weekend. Some smaller boats were hand launched across the way and the trailer launched boats had to go to Round Pond, which was a few miles south. The next day we were off for a short sail around an island. All 50 boats gathered and sailed in one cluster to the lunch spot. A funny thing that happens with so many boats is when the boats in the lead stall because lack of wind, the following boats, who still have some breeze, pile up on the stalled lead boats. Slowly booms and bow sprits become parts of other peoples boats. Lines get tangled and peoples faces turn from happily surprised to somewhat concerned.


hand launching the lighter boats



first sail all together


boats piled up once in a while


Clint Chase rowing


Geoff Kerr in his Caledonia Yawl


the Carpenter didn’t have enough sail and had to row a lot to keep up.


Tom Jackson in his Nomands Land Boat



The lunch spot offered another surprise. We arrived at this high bar with shells and pebbles. Some boats beached but others went around to the other side of the bar, which was more sheltered. When those guys stepped out of their boats they sank about knee deep in heavy black muck! Some folks had to be helped to even make it out of there. Friends of mine from Holland, Eric and Silvia Wybenga, happened to also attend this event. I knew about them coming, but they didn’t know that I was going to be there. They couldn’t get over the surprise. I had built a boat for them in Holland called ‘Time & Tide’, a modified Nomans Land Boat. Small World I guess.



lunch spot on the bar


John making his way through black sticky muck on the other side of the bar


Eric and Silvia Wybenga in their borrowed Norwegian Faering


Norse Boat


John has driven his chase boat for all the regatta’s


Two Coquinas


There were two Sea Pearls in the crowd


That afternoon we were presented with a brisk breeze (15 to 18 knots?). I was crewing on a Kinston Lobster Boat and had my hands full, so I don’t have pictures of the excitement. Some folks had never reefed their boats before and had to improvise a bit. The evenings were always a feast with good food and company. The folks at the Audubon Camp really took care of us.


Meals at Hog Island were good times.



The next day the winds had moderated again and we had a fine cruise to Harbor Island and another fabulous lunch at the beach.


another gorgeous day on the water


beached at Harbor Island


Antonia Dias was there with his Harrier


never got the name of this design


Eric and Silvia crewing with Tom


Fetch was an odd bird in the fleet with her cabin


Eric and Silvia say goodbye


One more day of cruising in company finished off the weekend and people headed back to their cars and trailers.

Tom Jackson and I started our sail back to Brooklin. Tom wanted to work the tide and wind, not having a motor to fall back on. Me on the other hand happily turned on the engine and motored for about 5 hours till the wind picked up enough to go sailing. I had a good breeze across an 8 mile crossing more south in the West Penobscot Bay and arrived at the bottom of Vinal Haven without any mishaps. Except that I accidentally locked myself out of my boat. I had to buy a hack saw, cut the lock and put a new lock on. I had dinner in Carvers Harbor and called Tom. Not knowing of each other’s routes he had just arrived about 1 mile from where I was! Without a motor he arrived at the same spot about 3 hours later, pretty good! We decided to stay the night in a cove on Greens Island. In the middle of the night Toms keel found a rock… I heard some mumbling and shuffling with anchor chain and then it was quite again.


Just before crossing West Penobscot Bay



Gannets from the atlantic look just like Blue Footed Boobies on the west coast.


dolfins coming right by, you can hear them breath


made it across to Hurricane Island on Vinal Haven


Carvers Harbor


I locked myself out of Fetch, oops


The last day we tried to stay together and our boats matched speeds remarkably well in varying wind conditions. Once in a while Tom would row to not be set back, I tried to be loyal, but didn’t have oars on my boat, just a paddle. After a while I got tired of that and started the motor. I suggested to Tom to go have lunch in Stonington, but he wanted to keep at it. After lunch I had a few more hours to Brooklin and moored safely in front of the school. Always a relief to arrive without any problems. After all one is vulnerable in a small boat in open water.


Tom next to the boat of Buckley Smith; a well known artist in Maine


waiting for the breeze



Before I had left on this week-long cruise, I had shown a model of my new design called Loon. Matt Murphy, at the WoodenBoat Magazine was taken by the looks of it and suggested that Mike O’Brien do a plan review of her. Matt suggested I spruce up the drawings a bit and offered me space to work in their office. He put me in a vacant office next to Carl Cramer and soon I was going full bore drawing plans for Loon. After this trip to Muscongus Bay it took another two weeks to finish the set of plans. I was able to work with Mike, who lives next door, on content and layout of the article, which was quite thrilling. The review will appear in the November issue.


working on Loon’s plans at WBM headquarters.








22 Aug


Fetch: First week in Maine


After I arrived at the WoodenBoat School I learned that I was just in time for two great events. One was the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta and the other was the Small Reach Regatta.  I’ll show you the second in the next post.


I finally made it to Maine


arriving at night


The WoodenBoat School is located on a beautiful 60 acre waterfront site, that also houses the WoodenBoat Store and the publication building of WoodenBoat Magazine and Professional BoatBuilder. Everything appears in great shape and well organized. Every week there are many different classes, most of which are fully booked. Some students camp on site and some stay in student housing just up the road in Brooklin. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served for whoever signs up. Staff is very friendly and professional. Quite a place indeed.


publication building


one of the school buildings



start of an Arctic Tern


steam boat restoration


Down at the water there is a beautiful boathouse where the on-the-water classes are based. Out in front is a whole assortment of wooden row and sail boats tied to there moorings, that are used for classes during the day and are available for students after 5 PM. Launches zoom back and forth bringing students to there boats and back. Fetch gets launched and I get the use of one of the guest moorings, so I don’t have to worry about my anchor holding.  Schooners (windjammers) from Rockland come in in the afternoon to have a sunset lobster dinner on the beach across the bay.


boat house


launches at the float


fleet moored ready for classes


Beetle Cat in the fog


a Gartside design


guest boats


visit of a windjammer


push boat along side (the schooner doesn’t have an engine)


Fetch at a guest mooring

Caledonia Yawl of instructor Geoff Kerr


this Mackinaw Boat is part of the fleet


the Mackinaw Boat slips along easily


visiting norwegian Faering built in Rockland and a dory


I went by the Brooklin Boatyard on a foggy day and enjoyed the waterfront of Center Harbor. I visited Eric Dow’s shop just up the road. Eric was my instructor in Seattle Center for Wooden Boats years ago. For a long time he specialized in building Havens, but now he focuses on winter storage and maintenance. I stopped briefly by Brion Rieff’s shop where several new builds were underway.


Center Harbor in a fog


lots of beauty floating about


Eric Dow



Latte at the ‘Cave’


The day of the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta began with no wind and rain. Fetch couldn’t part take because one has to be at least 26′. About 100 classic wooden boats gathered for the start and I tried to stay out of the way with Fetch, but at some point I accidentally drifted over the start line; oops. The first classes started with a fair amount of wind, but by the time the bigger faster boats went over the line the wind had pretty much died. Millions of dollars worth of boats were just drifting about. Gradually the sea breeze came up and finally built to about 18 knots. By now the boats were really going. Just in front of me a beautiful big yacht, carrying a huge spinnaker, was heeling so much I thought it was going to put the mast in the water. Suddenly the boat just popped up after the spinnaker blew right in half.



skippers meeting


smallest boat meets biggest boat


big old gaffer running the start line










spinnaker blows in half


After the regatta hundreds of sailors gathered on the lawn at the waterfront for a BBQ and award ceremony. The day ended with an amazing sunset flooding a whole fleet of anchored classic boats in golden light. What a day!


BBQ afterwards




what a day!

08 Aug

1 Comment

Fetch: Visit to Port Townsend


After the students graduated at the Great Lakes Boat Building School in June I headed south to park my van and Fetch, so I could fly to Port Townsend. Originally I was just going for 10 days or so and parked my rig at James Day in Grand Rapids. While in PT, I had so much fun that I decided to stay a bit longer. Andy’s dad, Frank James, was so kind to drive my rig over to his house where long-term parking was more suitable.

It was good to get back to PT for a while, seeing my family and friends and all the familiar places to hang out. One of the reasons I came to PT was to help out Ed Louchard with a fabulous boat project. He was in the final stages of a thorough restoration (or replica?) of Vapor, one of the last remaining go-fast steam launches of this kind, built by the Herreshoff Boatyard. The boat was about 30’ long, fairly narrow with 6’ beam and capable of going 16 knots. The big steam engine was in LA, with the owner of the boat. It had been in Ed’s shop for years and Ed had asked me to help getting it done. Ed and his lovely family live out in the woods just outside PT and it was a treat to go there every day and work with Ed, William and Fish.


Port Townsend


Vapor in final stages


The foredeck I worked on


Ed’s shop


Ed makes custom sheaves as well


William was always smiling




a Barred Owl in Ed’s drive way.


In evenings and weekends I could hang out with my family and friends. My sons Theo and Nico joined me on a hike up Mount Townsend, just south of PT. We left early and got to the top around midday, before it started getting cloudy and rainy. Going down was a lot faster, but my muscles were quite sore the next few days.


Nico, Theo, Sofia and yours truly


on top of Mount Townsend





Right when I was in town, a sailboat (19’ Concordia Sloop) I had worked on in the Maritime Center was launched for the first time. I had a chance to help bend the sails on it and take her for a sail. Paul Siefried, the owner, had started this project 15 years ago. Paul is a renowned violin bow maker in town. He first lofted her and built the backbone. To learn how to do lapstrake planking he took a class at the Northwest Boatbuilding School in PT. He was the only student who had signed up, so they invited him to bring his boat over and plank it at the school. He worked hard for a few weeks till his body couldn’t do it anymore and got all the planks on. The boat then sat in his shop for 6 years waiting for more time. When I had just started being the boat shop educator at the brand-new Northwest Maritime Center, Paul and I decided to put the boat in the center to get finished. We worked on her for a few years off and on with help of Jason, Dave, Mike, Maud, Chuck and others to finish her out with frames, floors, decks, seats and spars. After my job ended there, I finished the rig and hardware. Sails were made by Northwest Sails and finally the boat was ready. It was a delight to sail her and Paul was happy.


First sail of Paul’s boat




Sean Rankin’s spitsgatter


Eileen R. freshly restored in the Maritime Center


A few months ago I was reading a book about a couple rowing from the Seattle area to Alaska and my mind started churning. What if I did something like that; it would be good for my health and an adventure at the same time. A lot of people have actually done that in either rowboats or kayaks. To Ketchikan is about 800 miles, which can take between one and two months of traveling. I called Ron Mueller in Bellingham, who designs rowboats. I knew him from doing raids (week long trips with small row and sail boats). He had designed some capable boats and mentioned there was one in PT, that had done that trip to Alaska. I went to see Ron at his house and he showed me his new design, the Salish Skiff, which was a delight to row. I also talked to Dale McKinnon, who lives in Bellingham as well and looked at her boat, designed by Sam Devlin. About 8 years ago she rowed that trip solo. I then drove to Port Angeles to see Chris Duff, who attempted to row from Scotland to Iceland! Twice he got stuck partway because of weather conditions. First he and his wife are going to kayak down the outside of Vancouver Island (no small feat by itself) and when the weather near Iceland is favorable, he’ll attempt the crossing to Iceland again. In PT I met Sue and Richard who have a Mueller designed double that Richard built. Sue rowed that trip in a similar boat with Robin years back. They were kind enough to let me try out their boat. My friend Marcelle and I took the boat out several times and had a blast. I don’t know yet whether I’ll row that trip single or with somebody, but a seed was planted.


Ron Mueller in his Salish Skiff


Dale McKinnon and her Dory


Chris Duff and his wife


Sue and Richard and their Merry Sea, which we borrowed


Marcelle ready to go!


Brief visit to Rat Island


At the end of my stay in PT I was in for another treat, the Pocket Yachters Palooza; a gathering of all kinds of small craft and their owners. Well represented were the Scamps, one of which was the first fiberglass one built by Gig Harbor Boat Works. They did a nice job. While working in the Maritime Center I had quite a bit to do with the development of Scamp’s wooden prototype and it was great to see her getting so popular.


Lots of Scamps in a row


Pocket Yachters Palooza at the Maritime Center



James McMullen, who sold me the Fulmar that became Fetch.


It was time to leave Port Townsend again. I flew back to Grand Rapids where Frank picked me up (bless his heart). I stayed the night at Frank and Judy and the next day I was off. Mind you, I hadn’t travelled in my van for over 10 months now, so it took a while to get used to things again. I stopped at Niagara Falls, where I was in awe and got wet standing right under one of the falls. Then east along Lake Ontario to Clayton NY and the Thousand Islands. Bud from the Great Lakes Boat Building School had recommended I visit the Antique Boat Museum and meet Mike Corrigan, who runs the boat shop. The museum is a very impressive facility with lots of beautiful classic boats. Power boats as well as canoes, Adirondack boats, Lawrence skiffs. Mike showed me the place and a large storage building full of lots more classic boats. I had a ride in one of the Hacker speedboats getting a sense of the islands. I also took out one of the gorgeous Lawrence River Skiffs.


Niagara Falls



Antique Boat Museum in Clayton NY


Nice facility


Mike Corrigan, the boat shop manager


Mike is building a replica of a Lawrence River Skiff in the boat shop


famous race boats


Adirondack Guide Boat


the Lawrence River Skiff that I rowed


I then launched Fetch and sailed two days in the Islands. I crossed the border to go in Canadian water and spend the night in pouring rain. I woke up with about 50 Canadian Geese (no kidding) around me and a snake swam around Fetch to get ashore. Early evening I had a great sail in a nice breeze around the west end of Grindstone Island and arrived back in Clayton late evening, just in time to load up before dark.


sailing Fetch with rain coming


sailing around Grindstone Island


I drove through the Adirondack Mountains and just before Lake Champlain, I saw a town called Keeseville and I just had to go there to take a picture. I crossed the Lake on a ferry and drove through Vermont and New Hampshire to Maine and went straight for the WoodenBoat School.


What do you know!