Sunday, April 26, 2015

Twanoh Oyster Feed

You might get as many reactions to eating oysters as there are religions in the world. There may be no more hedonisticly pleasurable food known to gastronomes.

I've heard that a hedonist is the follower of any ethical system in which some sort of pleasure ranks as the highest good. The Epicurean identifies this pleasure with the practice of virtue. Of course, anything that is pleasurable is, to some, morally suspect. At least, that's how I feel when eating oysters who lived free and filtered clean seawater only yesterday... a mortal eating food intended for gods. I like to loiter around the cook, in the smoke of the hot oiled pan, stealing morsels of the little buggers, raw. If I happen to be the cook well, you'd better get your share while they're too hot to eat, because I already had mine and might eat your share, too.

Add to this, good company on a beautifully inspiring spring day with unparalleled sailing. That would be the Twanoh State Park messabout, and the Puget Sound TSCA. I, for one, could wish everyday to be this good.

The Puget Sound Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association is a heady title for a very down-to-earth group of small boat affectionatoes. You must be a hearty soul to gather in all weather, on the Olympic Peninsula, for fun. Twanoh Park is on the Hood Canal, in the Olympic rain forest. Human denizens of this climate have, for centuries innumerable, grown webbed feet and developed seal skin. The name of the park derives from the First Nation Twana tribes, better known as the Skokomish.

A large portion of the beach at Twanoh is a huge shellfish midden. A midden is, by Middle English definition, a refuse heap. Imagine pre-historic gatherings of humans on a rocky beach, where the tidal current runs strong and clean and the oyster and other mollusks are so plentiful all one must do is sit in the sun on the beach at low tide and eat your fill. Possibly after such a meal, you would be led to ponder why the Greeks are credited with the definition of gastronomia.

It would take years, nay millennia, for people to eat enough oysters to create a landfill of shell, at low tide, to form a peninsula that is high and dry at the most extreme high tide. In such a place, of which there are many still on the Salish Sea, if you repose in a meditative, contemplative posture, you can feel generations of satiated souls at your side. Such is Twanoh, Hood Canal, Salish Sea.

Even if you are not a history buff, or given to prosaic hyperbole, you will enjoy this fine Washington State Park.  The launch ramp is first class, as are the old timber shelters suitable for family gatherings such as this. But if you show up on a weekend toward the end of April, on a blustery day with weather challenges from warm and sunny to gale force rain, while you watch over a plateful of some of the best food you'll ever eat, or test your abilities at reefing and riding a squall, you're at the TSCA Twanoh Oyster Messabout.

A highlight of my year, documented on the Doryman Flickr site. Some photos pilfered from Puget Sound TSCA president Claire Acord. Thank you Claire!


Thanks to old friends and new, for a wonderful day on the water.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Need for Speed

I met Robert Ditterich back when he was building a Waller 540. I'd never heard of the Waller design, which is no surprise, Robert lives on the flipside of the globe. There is a substantial amount of skinny water in and around Australia, so boats with shallow draft have an advantage long capitalized by designers.
My love affair with traditionally designed and built boats is largely due to their simple and exquisite beauty. Traditionalists like me tend to hyperbole about how these old hull and sail types are the equivalent to new production designs. You hear often about how a lug sailed dingy traded tacks with a Laser all afternoon.
That may be the case, I wasn't there to verify any of those accounts. A fact I can verify is, if you want a boat that performs well in all conditions and is fast to boot, you need a design like Robert's Waller 540.

Ok, so I like a good turn of speed. I was reminded of this a couple days ago when we went for a row in Port Townsend Bay. The weather built up to a bluster on the way home and rowing with some difficulty, we kept pace with a couple walking the path along the shore. Until recently, human and sail powered boats have been what an old sailing mentor of mine called "slugs on the water".

But now we have boats that will sail at the speed of the wind. Hard to wrap your mind around, isn't it? This morning, the question of velocity came up again while reading Earwigoagin and an account of how the Gougeon brothers built an i550 design by Chris Beckwith, for this year's aborted Everglades Challenge. The i550 is an 18 foot sportboat, built for racing, a boat designed to go as fast as the wind. Why be satisfied with five knots when you could be going ten?

Last month, on a whim, I drove to Bainbridge Island to check out a guitar. The owners lived in one of the swank neighborhoods circumjacent along the island's waterfront. The woman was a musician and her husband was a cabinetmaker and a sailor. They'd built their home themselves.
It took me four hours to buy that guitar.
On the way out, I was shown their sportboat. The way they'd been talking about her speed, I expected a motor boat, but was pleasantly surprised to see a very fast looking sail design, 28 feet long, with kevlar and carbon fiber everywhere. This boat had recently spent a couple seasons eating up the competition around Seattle.

Wow. Then there is the story of Webb Chiles' ongoing circumnavigation in his Moore 24, Gannet. Webb has an appreciation for small, simple boats and demonstrates they are capable of much more than we give them credit for. He also has a need for speed. His Gannet is similar in size to my Belle Starr, but in fifteen knots of wind, he is sailing at a spectacular ten knots.
I would be back there, somewhere, making nearly five........

 Whoa, doryman! What happened to "less is more"?

Whew, got a little carried away there. On a less astral plane, let's consider the cs20. B&B Yacht Design has here a boat for everyman. Performance in a builder friendly design.
I've had the privilege of sailing with Randy Jones on his Core Sound 17, pictured here. A boat that sails itself and practically builds itself, too.
The Core Sound 20 is bound to be that much better.

Who knows what may become of this?........

The only photo I can take credit for is the last one. The others belong to friends mentioned and to them I extend thanks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms

While winter storms raged, four sets of oars emerged from the Doryman boatyard. Two sets of sweeps were refurbished and two were new.

I'd like to call attention to buttons, otherwise known as collars. I'm not in the habit of using buttons on my oars, so they are new to me.
Rowing racers call them collars and they are used for positioning the oars. Mere mortals install buttons on the upper end of the chaffing leathers to keep the oars from sliding though the oarlock and out to sea.

The oars pictured here are to be used for two very different boats, by a person accustomed to using buttons for oar positioning. Thus, you will notice two buttons per oar. These oars are also indexed, which means they have at least two flat surfaces, in the pulling and return positions, to facilitate feathering.
As I said, I've rowed for many years without these aids, but was informed by a competitive rower a couple years back that I was no rower at all if my oars had no collars.

I did not wish to be left out of my favorite activity, so here you see the result: chaffing protection and buttons made of leather. You can purchase these items made of plastic but they cost a small fortune and have no soul.

A very good dissertation on oar design can be found by my friend Tom, at Grapeview Point Boat Works.

Now that spring has arrived, I can be found out in the yard under the cherry tree, sanding and scraping the flat iron skiff, Stewball.

Here we see Stewball last spring, in her "before" condition.

To those who claim a fiberglass boat will outlast a wood one, I present exhibit #1. Stewball is 75 years young, showing her age with grace.
Her hull has been repainted with oil based enamel and her interior stripped of paint. The process of oiling the dry planks has begun. A certain amount of patina will remain of necessity, weathered wood can stain very deep.

One of my favorite designers, Captain Pete Culler, dictated that the interior of a cross-planked bottom should not be oiled or painted. I think in this case, I will follow his advice and leave the pine boards bare.

The cherry blossoms in the photos are a bonus. It did no good to sweep them out - by the time the camera was ready, they'd been replaced.

Stewball will be on the water in a couple weeks. Please stay tuned.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Here's something rarely seen above the 45th parallel in January. Leucojum is a very hardy, naturalizing, early spring bulb. Early spring in January?!? And there are crocus coming up in the lawn. Despite the dire implications of climate change, I'm happy to see these warm weather harbingers.

As promised in the last post, I visited Tillamook, Oregon last week to meet Joe and look over his old Stone Horse. As I always feel, with a boat of pedigree, this fine vessel should be back in the water. She's 67 years going on 17. A bit of diligent effort and a new owner would have a true classic. Anyone interested in knowing more is encouraged to contact me at the address at the end of this post.

While spending the morning with Joe, we checked out his current project - a Pacific City fishing dory. Joe grew up fishing with his father, launching their double-ended dory from the beach at Pacific City, as deep sea fishermen have done for more than a century. He quit school to go to work on his own boat at sixteen, and in an eclectic, even eccentric life, has never looked back. A man after my own heart. The stories that morning ranged from building and flying his own airplane, to hang gliding trophies, to being a ski bum.

As for the dory, Joe tells it best:

"I am a P.C./ Cape Kiwanda doryman. I found this project in the an open equipment shed at a small farm near Tillamook, Oregon, 20 miles from Pacific City, the home of the Dory Fleet. The boat was built around 1958, and is the actual prototype of the first of the new breed of surf dory that changed a culture, When the first two TEXAN square stern dories showed up at the Pacific City Dory Derby in 1958, They dominated and easily won the Derby. Ironically, first prize was a brand new double end dory."

"Five years later, in spite of quite a number of naysayers, there were at least a half dozen manufacturers cranking the new dory type out as fast as possible. This revolution led to the unlikely event of Pacific City, a city without a port, becoming the highest salmon producer during the salmon boom of the 70's."

"The only reason I found this piece of history, is that I had always been interested in the TEXAN dories, because I remembered them from the period, and my father was a close friend of one of the builders. Dad and I discussed the boat many times during the next 40+ years. We really liked the clean simple lines and especially liked the extremely efficient use of material. Dad called the design elegant, and I agree."

"I knew that one of the two original builder/designers was still around. Stan Kephart is well into his eighties and wouldn't be with us forever. I did not know him personally, but knowing that if I was ever going to build a TEXAN type dory, I needed to talk with him. So one day, I just drove down his driveway, and knocked on his door. I told him of my interest and asked if he had any drawings or measurements... I was quite sure that the last example had been burned several years back, and I was kicking my butt for not measuring the boat...To my surprise, Stan lights up, and says, no, but there is one in Fred's shed a mile down the road. Fred Wyss, Stan's best friend and co-designer/builder had died in 1979 and the boat had been there since...He asked me if I wanted to check it out.? The family is selling the farm and that boat has to go."

"I ended up taking the TEXAN II home...A year and a half later, I am laid off work, and getting a good start on the project."

The boat is indeed historic. Close examination reveals alterations incorporated in the build, to improve performance. A design work in process by Stan and Fred. The original Pacific City dory was an oar-driven double-ended boat which, with the advent of the marine motor, was redesigned with a wide transom. This allowed the boat to climb on top of the incoming wave and escape the surf quickly. It was also the motor, coupled with a flat run aft in the hull ,that allowed these boats to surf into the beach on the back of a single wave.

Today, on the west coast of the US, these surf dories are what people think of when dories are mentioned. But most of the old wood versions have been relegated to decorating the parking lots of restaurants or motels, filled with flowers.

Kudos to Joe for saving this piece of history. Thanks, Joe, for sharing your find with us. Maybe you'll take me fishing one day?
Photos courtesy of Joe Evens.
mbogoger (at) gmail

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sam Crocker Revisited

The fiberglass Stone Horse one-design produced by Edey and Duff is our standard impression of that boat and few know there were several options available in the original carvel-planked hulls. True to an age when one-off boats were hand-built everywhere, by everyman, options to a design revealed the builder's personality and character. Some of us keep that tradition alive today, despite a culture of mediocrity. It is to those of you I speak.

Joe Evens, on the Oregon coast has a true historic treasure in his barn and is looking for someone to give her the love and attention she deserves. I will be visiting Joe soon, to get the measure of this project. When I do, I'll take you along. Perhaps that perfect person will emerge. Who will take this on? As you will see from the photos, this is an original Stone Horse in very good condition. But she stands to be delegated to the burn pile.

Recently Joe wrote to me and this is what he said:

"She was launched in1948, and first lived on the Columbia, later sailing north to the Puget Sound where she served until a few years ago. She's hauled out now and it's time for major maintenance."

"The boat has a carvel-planked hull, Red Cedar on White Oak. The pictures clearly show a few planks the surveyor marked for replacement.. At some point, the propshaft was removed from the keel and mounted out the port side. This caused some structural problems. It needs to go back, or better, replaced with an outboard. The frames are all good, though the boat needs to be re-fastened. The original galvanized fasteners are beginning to give up. There is a small area of rot on the hatch cover."

"The surveyor indicated that the teak deck was getting thin and should be replaced. Personally, I think that it is serviceable. The deck is beautifully built and is very solid. I am confidant that diligent maintenance would delay that job till the next quarter century maintenance. The builder was obviously a master craftsman. Quality shows everywhere. The mast, boom and the spinnaker pole are truly beautiful, old growth spruce. The rigging includes the original wood blocks and the sails are serviceable."

"Unlike the fiberglass knockoffs, This Crocker Stone Horse is a standard sloop rig, The mast is round and stayed to the bow, no bowsprit. It shows a lot of sail, and uses a wishbone boom to carry it."

"The interior is beautiful and virtually perfect."

"I think that there were only 40 or so of the carvel Stone Horses finished and I suspect that today they could be counted on your fingers."

"It would take a man with no soul to burn it. Or it would be gone with the embers."

Couldn't have said it better, Joe.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2,000 K

My, my. It's 2015, can you believe it? We weathered the crossing, we have survived well into the 21st century. Who would have thought?

Having spent much of my life on a lee shore, it amazes me, to have lived to see this day. I thank all of you, my friends, for your love and support here on DoryMan, for the last eight years. Looking through the statistics recently, I was pleasantly surprised to find that these pages and their companion photo archives have garnered over two million visits. That's a lot of time spent together, you and I.

My best wishes go out, around the world to the DoryMan community, and for now, I leave you with
Mark Seymore and his daughter, Hannah, covering the Pogue's Lorelei.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Otter is the first boat I built, forty years ago. She is a Gloucester Gull, as designed by Phil Bolger. She's logged a lot of nautical miles and fulfilled many purposes. Phil designed a simple, lightweight craft, with timeless grace. I must admit, the boat as specified by the Master of light craft was not durable enough to be used daily as a commuter vessel and work boat. After a couple seasons of being side-tied to various boats under working conditions and constantly subjected to the vagaries of Pacific Northwest weather, she was no longer the Light Dory from Bolger's pen.

But she's held up.

Subsequent owners of Otter have kept in touch and recently I received a note from the last mariner to love her. He had given the dory to his grandson. I'm happy to report Ian is a budding mariner himself.

 And apparently, so is his brother.

Happy rowing and sailing to these young gentlemen. I couldn't think of a better fate for the old Otter.