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Week 22: Halfway There…

Life is one of those finicky calendar problems. I am never quite sure where I’m at on the schedule. Is this the halfway point or just another birthday to be recorded in a writer’s diary? Fortunately, all schools come with clearly denoted start and stop points. It seems someone figured out students reach a point upon which the brain…

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Week 21: And Then the Wind Blew In…

Some of you will recall when school was cancelled for “snow days.” That white fluffy stuff that rendered driveways and streets treacherous until a shovel and plow were brought to bear. This is not a common problem here in the great Northwet. Oh, we get plenty of liquid green and lawns that come to life long before expected but…

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Week 20: Looking Out Over the Bow

  Upon attaining what the adult world calls “maturity,” attending any school requires a bit of looking out over the bow. Put more simply, one begins to think about how expended hours in a classroom or shop are to be used in future endeavors. For some of us, the educational experience is a means to acquiring a paycheck. For…

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Week 19: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Wooden boat builders are a philosophical bunch, or at least they come to be so. Constructing watercraft from a medium that has its own mind makes you realize time is fungible and progress often incremental. These are frustrating conclusions for recent generations who are offered the expediency of internet searches and phones smarter than equipment employed to launch NASA’s…

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Week 16: Tourists in Our School

Imagine, instead of boarding a plane, ship or train, one could discover new worlds immediately outside the doorstep of your house. Yes, yes, I know the folks who specialize in infectious diseases understood this for a long time—every sneeze is a new adventure in their world. But, what about boat school? Hey, aren’t we all just working on things…

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Week 14: One Step at a Time

Maybe it was in second grade (I don’t remember kindergarten or first grade; a real shame), as at least one author has made a fortune by claiming to have learned everything necessary for life during that first year of exposure to a public education. (Think I’m kidding? Ask the local librarian for a copy of Everything I Needed to…

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Week 13: What’s a little rain when you have boats to build?

Never underestimate the powers of human observation.  Just don’t expect immediate leaps to scientific discovery based upon this particular skill. Case in point,  Port Townsend seemingly loses half of its population come late October winter winds. Given the option of staying in place to sit out short days or soak up some guaranteed liquid sunshine, the “snowbirds” head south…

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Week 12: We’re Back!

Memory is a fleeting thing—and very selective. We tend to recall that which appeases the soul, while casting aside unpleasant recollections. Many a school teacher has learned this lesson the hard way. Give your students a two week holiday break and most will have forgotten how to add, subtract, multiply or divide…to say nothing of reading or writing. Now…

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Week 11: The Close to Our First Quarter

An artist is never finished with his or her masterpiece, but a work done on commission must come to completion. So, it is with the five skiffs and a drift boat that our class of 2016 has been racing to prepare for a first splash in the northern Pacific. We face a pair of daunting masters, the clock, and…

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Week 10: Skiffs and a Drift

  Imagination is a wonderful indulgence, particularly when a project starts to approach fruition. It would be no minor claim to declare imagination has been fully employed here at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding over the last week. In addition to stretching lines and changing structural layouts, the Jedi masters have all opted to build crafts that are…

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Week 9: Let the Games Begin!

An optimist’s cup is always half-full. A pessimist’s is always half-empty. Me? I haven’t been served yet. This is no expression of despair, just a simple recognition there is much more to come in our education as would-be wooden boat builders. To that end, the flood gates opened on the Monday following Thanksgiving indulgences. Thoughts of turkey-induced naps and…

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Week 8: We Get to Start All Over Again…

A wise man once told me: “All progress is incremental—until it isn’t.” I had to think about that observation for a few days. This was not one of those mumblings about “one step forward, two steps back.” No, there was more to the message. To place the philosophy in context, think of great battles or scientific discoveries. Everything inches…

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Week 7: Lofting, Lofting, Lofting…the perils of a 6′ x 18′ canvas

  Painters, at least in the world of fine art, like to refer to their targeted surface as a “canvas.” Not surprising, in the old days canvas was stretched over a frame—normally square or rectangular—and became the surface upon which to design and paint a masterpiece. As you might recall from last week, we’re not working on canvas (its…

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Week 5: Hands on a Boat! Blending Instruction and Instinct

About the time I was lamenting absence of contact with nautical craft, we get a reprieve. Escape one came with a trip to Port Townsend’s “Boat Haven.” A working shipyard with an interesting collection of commercial, military, and recreational craft. If it floats—regardless of hull material—a boat in the Northwest is likely to be found in the Boat Haven…

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Week #4: Drafting Blues

No one ever said boat school would be all sawdust and hand tools. Oh, you would like to believe that was the case, but truth of the matter is new designs require drafting…and drafting means sitting at a desk while figuring out how to create a three-dimensional model on a two dimension surface. The computer guys have figured out…

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Week 3: Move Along…Nothing to be Seen Here

Welcome to week three of wooden boat school. By now you’ve been entertained with joints of all variety, made a few hand tools—including a mallet sufficient for whacking any chisel, and struggled through a variety of power tool lectures that leaves one wondering if any of these devices may be employed without risk to life or limb…or at least…

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Week 2: Time to Return the Favor

I was once asked why spend time on “free” projects when there is so much work to be accomplished at a billable rate? The answer—at least for me—is relatively simple.  Without the generous contribution of time and money from no small number of “strangers”, I would not be granted the privilege of residing in the American northwest, to say…

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Day 1: When Old is New Again

Looking around the classroom, I had recollections of a mosh-pit at a Nirvana concert I attended back in the late 80s. “Seattle chic” was all the rage. You know the look; Black knitted watch cap, beard that was trimmed sometime last summer, flannel shirt, pair of dungarees (color not important), but no fashion designers, and working boots. Very fashionable…

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