Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mystic WoodenBoat Show 2010 : Episode 3

Now personally, I'm a small boat kinda guy. The big stuff holds some interest, but I am always interested to see what others have done with their canoes and kayaks. As a result, I've decided to devote today's post to canoes and kayaks at the show. The picture above shows some restored and un-restored beauties on Robert Ross's trailer. Robert Ross is the owner of Ross Brothers and they specialize in the sale vintage canoes and sporting goods among other things. Here's a nice detail view of an un-restored boat:

I think that the un-restored boats can be as beautiful as the restored boats. Often, the un-restored boats (like those in the Rossi Mill building at Mystic Seaport...) show artwork and detail painted on them that you don't often see put back on restored boats. Things like gilt work and hand painted scroll work. The old boats had some pretty fancy stuff.

Here's another view of Robert's booth showing a lovely courting canoe with long decks and wide thwarts. I love the way that varnish glows in the sun!

Detail of the deck:

He also had this cute 10' long pack canoe and a variety of paddles and oars. DD would probably enjoy something like this as it's a bit wider than my Wee Lassie.

Nick Schade of Guillemot Kayaks had a booth again this year and was featuring his nearly complete Mini-Bootlegger. This kayak was made from 1/8" thick Mahogany strip that was organized as it was cut from the board. The trim was Tiger Maple. A gorgeous effort - and it is available for sale. A mere $23,000.00.

Just look at the grain. Gorgeous.

Chesapeake Light Craft was back as well with their lovely boats on display. I can't say I'm much of a guy for plywood kayaks, but they do a nice job. This is only a small selection from their display - they offer an impressive number of designs for the home-builder.

In the, "I Built it Myself" area at the show this lapstrake sailing canoe based on a Rushton design was just arriving as I was leaving and had no signs on it.

This gentleman built a Redbird to the design of Ted Moores from Bear Mountain Boats and customized it very nicely. One of the customizations was lowering the sheer a bit at the bow and stern. My father and I built a canoe to this design and it is a pleasure to paddle, but the high bow and stern can be pushed around when the wind is up.

A very nice sculpted cherry yoke:

Bird's Eye Maple decks and grab handles:

A slick sliding seat arrangement for the bow paddler. This is a nice feature as such a design will let you shift the seat to adjust the fore and aft trim for paddlers of different weight.

A nice sea kayak - I missed the builder and design information - Oops!

A Tom Hill designed Charlotte lapstrake double-paddle canoe. This is a very popular design and there are quite a few of these about. They are nice, lightweight canoes that let you go where you cannot go with larger boats. I've got the marine plywood and the patterns cut out, but I've got too many other projects going to really get moving on this before I wrap up others!

Finally, a beautiful Wee Lassie built to the design of Mac McCarthy of Feather Canoes. Sadly, Mac's health has not been good, but I'm sure he would be heartened to know that his design won Best of Show for Human Powered craft. This build was faithful to Mac's design and well executed. Michelle Corbeil of WoodenBoat and I were nearly tripping on each other trying to get good photos of this boat. I'm sure her's are much better than mine!

The happy builder with his winner's award.

Still more to come!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mystic WoodenBoat Show 2010 : Episode 2

One of the great reasons to hold a show like the WoodenBoat Show at a place like Mystic Seaport is the fact that there are many things to see besides the show itself. I know that I've heard from several people who took others who were not "Wooden Boat People" who still had a wonderful time enjoying the museum while they took in the show.

For me, one of the more interesting draws is the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. It is neat to watch traditional boat building as it happens. (FYI, another museum with this "plus" is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's, MD - just not on the same scale. The past two years, the museum has had the Charles W. Morgan hauled for some well-deserved restoration and maintenance. The Charles W. Morgan is the last surviving American wooden whaling ship and was built in New Bedford, MA in 1841. A unique treasure.

She is a really large ship.

Over the past 69 years, the Morgan has been at Mystic as a display piece for the museum. Because of the way she was rigged and loaded as well the fact her underwater timbers were in poor condition, she began to "hog". (develop a hollow in the keel) a Here is a shot of her keel from last year not long after being hauled:

A project was begun to restore the Morgan including the improvements to the shipyard's marine railway and other equipment used in the restoration including the ship's saw. Live Oaks that were lost to Hurricane Katrina were brought up for timbers. Lots of work has gone on in the bilge area of the ship and this year, her keel looks nearly straight.

She remains a wonderful exhibit - even as she is being restored. Here's a view from the stern lights:

And a deck prism:

There is still a ways to go before the Morgan is ready to be in the water again, but she should be in great shape when she does!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mystic WoodenBoat Show 2010 : Episode 1

I took the day off on Friday to go down to the WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport. If you have any interest in wooden boats, you're sure to see something that will draw your interest. The trip is a relatively short drive for me, but was rendered a bit longer than usual by two accidents. If you had the dubious pleasure of being on I-95 Northbound up near Mystic on Friday morning, this is probably what you saw as a result of the second accident:

Traffic was, frankly, brutal. It took me nearly an hour to go between exits 88 and 89 where I finally got off the highway. Traffic on the side roads wasn't much better, but I eventually reached the Seaport over an hour after my desired arrival time. Because of this delay I started out at the North entrance and made my way to the South end getting an overview of the show and taking a few pictures.

One of the first real stops that I made was at the docks near the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. There are usually a neat variety of small craft at the docks and I wasn't disappointed this year. What first caught my eye was Patina. Patina is a Caledonia Yawl by Ed Segen and was literally the "poster girl" from the WoodenBoat Show poster I put up previously. One of the reasons that this boat was used for the poster is that it was designed by Iain Oughtred - the very talented marine designer who was being honored at the show's annual dinner on Saturday evening.

Iain has a fairly broad catalog of designs and many of the boats that were at the show were his work. As I always note about my own student's work, even though the design is the same, they can be completely different. Take for example another Caledonia Yawl, Xena, build by Ken Ford with a unique bird's wing mast.

I was also very interested in seeing this new runabout by Timm Schlieff of Schlieff Boatworks. Timm is a very talented young man and was recently featured in both the editorial and a full article in the most recent edition of WoodenBoat magazine. The runabout was named Vixen and was being delivered to a customer in New Hampshire just after the show.

Up on the walkway was a Herreshoff Watch Hill 15, Kitty, from Alec Brainerd of Artisan Boatworks. They always have some beautiful boats on display at the Maine Boatbuilders show and Kitty certainly showed both the attention to detail and excellent craftsmanship that Artisan always puts forth.

On top of everything else, the folks from Mystic Seaport and WoodenBoat managed to order some of the most gorgeous weather that we've had in a while!

More to come!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh Help, Oh NO!!!

I had some dental work done last week and as a part of that dental work, I was given an anti-septic mouth rinse to use three times a day. As a side effect of the rinse, my tongue felt sort of strange - mostly in regard to how things tasted. Last night was my first night being done with the rinse and I decided that a glass of red wine would be nice as the taste wouldn't be spoilt by the rinse.

When I woke up this morning, I looked in the mirror and could only think of the wonderful children's book, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and illustrated with both humor and talent by Axel Sheffler.

My eyes were orange. (Ok, sorta red...)

I opened my mouth...

My tongue was black. (Stained a purple-black from the wine...)

...are there?

I turned slightly just to make sure I didn't have purple prickles all over my back.

Oh help, oh no - am I a Gruffalo?

If you have children and haven't read them this book (or the follow up, The Gruffalo's Child.) I highly recommend them. We were introduced to them by my BIL and are very thankful for the it!

I also recommend waiting a few days after that mouth rinse for a glass of wine, too!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Which one is...

The Horn of Africa?


...or this?

Monday, June 21, 2010

I've been a busy guy - really.

I haven't been ignoring people around here lately, but I've been busy trying to get things done. I've got a project that needed finishing up for the same exhibition that I posted about with displays by my canoe building students. As well as teaching at the school, I also take some classes in furniture making offered by another instructor to hone my skills. This spring's major project was this carving:

It is about full scale for a maple leaf and is back-thinned at the edges. I wanted it to be a bit rustic while being realistic and think I got a good balance. There is an incredible amount of work in a little piece like this. This will be the cosmetic face for a tree-of-life wall hanging that I got for DW at Christmas. We wanted to hang it in the West Wing, but I discovered much to my chagrin that the stud wasn't centered in the wall beneath the window in the end wall by about 1-1/2". The hanging is heavy enough that I wanted to mount it to the stud, not the drywall. The leaf is going to disguise the offset.

I've also been working up three Greenland style paddles for friends. One pair is for a couple and is cut from the same piece of lumber and have the same tip shape so that they will be similar. The husband wanted a varnished finish and the wife wanted an oil finish - to each their own! The other paddle is for a former student of mine and needs a bit more work, but is close to being complete. Another couple of coats of oil on the left-hand paddle would be nice, too.

The last thing I've been working on is a steam generator for bending wood. Here's a quick look:

I still need to mount it and a water supply for it, but this is the heart of the device. More about it later!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Do not...

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

...Well, unless maybe you're talking about Dragon Boats:

I need to do a bit more digging on the subject, but these are basically very large canoes that are paddled by teams of people and the cadence is called out by a drummer in the boat. Dragon boat racing, while very popular in China, has spread to many other parts of the world. Just don't think about hopping out on your own for a quick spin!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Yes, please, I'll have the...

My DW is a language person and I'm not much of one, I must admit. I don't have an ear for language and really have a difficult time with other languages. I took many years of Junior High and High School French, but as I don't "use it" I've "lost it".

DW teaches English as a second language and as a result of this has picked up various bits and pieces of other languages. Sagely, she has decided that our children should learn a second language. This second language happens to be Chinese as we have a local charter school that offers classes on the weekend and at a summer day-camp environment nearby. DS started at the summer camp last year and loved it - both he and DD went to the weekend program at the school over fall, winter and spring and will be going to the upcoming summer camp.

As part of their language lessons, they've been learning to count and the names of various foods in Chinese. To put this to the test, the teacher had class for the students at a local Chinese restaurant. They would order from a set list of items in Chinese and pay for them. DW and I went with them not knowing exactly what the situation would be. Would we sit with the children or not? Would we be asked to order in Chinese as well? It turns out that the teacher had brought some traditional foods to share with the children and had arranged to order some more traditional dishes from the kitchen that would reflect the upcoming Duanwu Festival. This event is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival and will be coming up on the 16th of June. The teacher would spend this time with the children and DW and I could go and enjoy a meal on our own.

At the table I mentioned that I was concerned about being asked to order in my (nearly non-existant) Chinese. I can say "hello" and "thank you" and that's about it other than 小白猫 (Xiao bi mao - small white cat) We had a good laugh over the fact that that certainly wouldn't be an appropriate order.

After we finished our meal, we were offered tastes of what was served to the children including scallion pancakes, steamed dumplings and zongzi - the steamed rice dumpling filled with red beans that was wrapped in a bamboo leaf. The zongzi is one of the dishes that is associated with the Duanwu festival.

When the wait staff noticed that we were paying attention to the Chinese lesson going on at the table near us, they asked if we were the parents of any of the children. We responded that we were and they produced a menu that we hadn't seen before. The one that we were offered when we arrived was the "Americanized" menu while the one that they gave us later had true Chinese dishes that were not on the first menu. We were told that if we requested the menu, it would be provided. It was an interesting contrast - there was much more fish on the menu including squid and octopus and cuttlefish. There were some dishes that I definitely want to try on our next trip there!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


DW has been limping along with an old Titanium Powerbook that she got from her past job about 7 years ago. The hinges were broken and it has been lobotomized with a new hard drive and a new optical drive that were installed about 2 years ago by yours truly. I've gotta say that dis-assembling a laptop and getting it back together are not the easiest tasks, but the folks at Other World Computing have some excellent tutorials on how to do the installations.

At any rate, she ordered herself a new 21" iMac that arrived by slow goat from Shenzen, China (sorry - inside joke) and the free iPod Touch that comes with the computer when you are employed in education. She customized both the iMac and the iPod to meet her needs and the iPod arrived first. Even though she previously pronounced me to be a geek when I was enjoying the iPod which came with my new iBook, she has been spending her time enjoying her new iPod.

The iMac arrived today. I'm dying to see if she spends more time with the iMac or the iPod.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

No More Teasing...

The school where I teach had their annual Exhibition this weekend. It's a bit bittersweet for me because I love doing this, but it is always the same weekend as the John Gardner Small Boat Workshop at Mystic Seaport, so I don't get to go there, but I do get to have fun showing people the boats I teach my students to build.

The school has once again provided a large tent for us to display the boats under and in front of. This year we occupied the whole tent and then some of the surrounding lawn. The show runs on Friday evening and Saturday morning and while the tent wasn't necessary last night, it was a good thing this morning as it sprinkled a bit as we were setting things up. It was, however, hot, humid and oppressive. Quite frankly, it is a great deal of work to set things up, pack them away on Friday night and repeat it for Saturday morning. I'm very pleased and proud that my students stick it out to do this.

We had boats, materials and jigs to show people what we do and how we do it. My students are always uncomfortable showing their unfinished work, but I think that it is very important for the people who come to the show to see and understand what has gone into building these canoes and kayaks. Visitors to the show are usually very pleased to be able to see all of the build stages.

I really need to tell a little tale here. One of my students confided in me that she'd come to sign up for a furniture making class to learn to make a table and when the class was filled up, she was looking around for something else to do and decided that she'd sign up for my class and build a canoe instead! (Table...canoe...table...canoe...whatever!) The boat in the picture below is being built by that student. Her sister came along and signed up for the class this year and has been building the canoe closest to you in the picture above. The feature strip on the side of both of their boats is a representation of a Fibonacci sequence - one is light on dark and the other dark on light. We just need to screw the trim together on the first sister's boat and I'll probably help her do it over the summer.

People who come and see these boats quickly become captivated. Some simply walk around gobsmacked and can say nothing. One lady this morning walked around like that for about 2o minutes with her mouth literally hanging open as she went. After she finally composed herself, she had lots of questions for us. I can't say that I've had anyone be quite that distracted at exhibition before.

The school really likes it when we have live demonstrations going on. Secretly, my students do as well. The two students building the Prospector Ranger took the time to remove the staples from the hull. Here's one of them sitting down on the job:

The Prospector Ranger is looking nice - we've got stems to go on and some fairing and glassing to do before we get to see how lovely the feature strip will look. I think it will be stunning.

I brought along the skin-on-frame kayak frame that we only had at last year's show in 1/4 scale. People seem to be interested in that too, but I think the finished boat will be a draw as well.

Three students really completed their boats this year. They all have some small details they're still working on - but I'll point that out later. One student finished the Wee Lassie II in the background and this lovely pair of poplar paddles to go with it. The canoe is called the Double Espresso as he brought in a coffee machine for my class's ten o'clock "union break".

Here's a detail of the Double Espresso's deck. It's tiger maple with a mahogany stripe. It's gently curved and has a small scupper at the tip to allow water to drain. He just needs to apply some hardware to the decks to tie the boat down and attach painter lines.

The next boat is the Osprey kayak which has be being built for the last two years. You have to keep in mind that the classes are only three and a half hours per week for little over half a year. The kayak is named Phoenix. The builder is a semi-retired cabinet maker and lost his shop last year to a fire. He was very lucky that he hadn't taken the boat to his shop to work on. He's got some small blocks to mount under the deck for the seat mounting, a piece of butternut to finish the coaming trim and varnish. He'll add some hatches at a later date. A very pretty kayak.

The third canoe that was finished up is another Wee Lassie II. The woman who built the canoe is a quilter and the canoe was named Crossed Canoes for the quilting pattern. She decided that she'd impress us and made a lap quilt in the crossed canoes pattern that is draped in the canoe. We were indeed impressed.

Close-up of the quilt:

I really love it that even though all of my students build from the same designs, all of the boats are unique. Compare the deck in the picture below to the one above. This deck has a cherry burl and a walnut stripe with a mahogany coaming and grab handles.

So, as I mentioned before, the school likes live demonstrations and there were details to be finished - here are the Wee Lassie II builders finishing up a bit of seat caning:

A great day with great weather!