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 is full and it’s time to go home—to mow lawns, repair leaking plumbing, or do taxes. And maybe go sailing!
Our return post windstorm and a Friday instruction break found endless projects awaiting completion. The small craft types have mastered epoxy such that steering wheels, stems, and submarines seem old hand. I remain amazed at what a little imagination and a lot of glue can accomplish. That is not to say we have abandoned traditional boatbuilding skills—Zen Master Leigh O’Connor and his crew splashed a Herreshoff Pram on Friday that has a finish worthy of anyone’s living room. In fact, it would be quite at home in a Victorian era boathouse.
But I leap ahead.
Just because we specialize in sawdust does not mean we have forgotten Mr. Edison and the evils of electrical corrosion. Zen Master Sean Koomen spent all of our mornings explaining electrical principles, metals that don’t like each other, and the pitfalls of placing anything within a body of water. Yes, I knew about rot and rust, but have you seen what just a little electrical current will do to bronze, copper and steel? Hence the requirement for corrosion specialists and more than a few scientists in our marine environment.
Thinking of specialists. We finally arrived at that magic moment in a boatbuilder’s life—when the molds go on a strongback and one’s ship begins to take on a three-dimensional life. That happened this week in the Hammond Shop, when Zen Master Jody Boyle stepped a few of us large boat knuckle draggers through the fine art of setting up the keel and molds for our Folkboat. Planking now only awaits our return from Spring break.
While I am on the subject of progress, you may recall my lament a few weeks earlier about two steps forward, one step back. Well, lament no more. On Friday we put the whiskey plank on the Sea Beast and finished planning a similar board for Felicity Ann. With any luck, third quarter will find Felicity Ann with a deck and much of her new interior. The Sea Beast should have a completed cabin and find many of my counterparts busily constructing a mast. Progress all around.
Which finds me wandering back down the hill. In the contemporary shop that Handy Billy now has a shiny white interior and deck beams. The Nutshell Pram is damn near complete and that submarine—well, let’s say it’s ready for a mating of the two halves. How they get two college students inside is beyond me. (Must be small kids or very close friends). And with Zen Master Olivier Huin we find the Philbrick taking form at a pace that will challenge their Sid Skiff shop mates.
In other words, despite the vicissitudes of wind and time, we continue to make remarkable progress on projects that defy modern ideals concerning software and carbon fiber materials. Not that I am complaining. We ended the quarter and reached a halfway point with spectacular weather and a chance to go blow about the bay on one of our predecessors’ success stories—a 24 foot gaff-rigged sloop. No requirement for the inboard, just trim sail and venture from Port Hadlock to Indian Island. Who needs a calendar or schedule when you have fair winds and following seas?
Eric Anderson is a retired Air Force officer who can be found puttering
in his shop when not scribbling on the keyboard. A new resident of Port Townsend,
he is an avid sailor, struggling carpenter, and would-be writer.