My husband and the Scamp

Today is as much a story as a photo op, so I’m posting differently than usual. Today I’ll provide background first:
My husband is a boat guy. One of his earliest memories is riding in the back of the family car as it passed another car towing a trailered boat. “Daddy,” he said. “Why can’t we have a car like that?” as he pointed to the boat. Since then he’s run off to the Navy, then the Merchant Marines, and then he became a commercial fisherman. I met him after he came ashore, after those adventures. But his dreams and preoccupations remain focused on boats. And over the years we have adopted many project boats, a good many of them in their final days as boats but still good for a little tinkering.

Some people have an ailment called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” which hits in the dark depths of winter. My husband gets boat fever and it too hits with seasonal regularity. He obsesses over boats. He pours over boat plans. He surfs websites and watches boat videos. And he cycles through what we now call Boats du Jour: the latest one to catch his fancy. Would this one suit? Is it right for local conditions? Could he easily launch it? Is it stable and sensible? Is it big enough? Is it too big? Would he really like to build it?

So, now let me introduce Scamp.

Scamp is the work of John Welsford, a New Zealand boat builder and designer. It is a small (11 ft.), tubby little vessel that looks a little like a shrunken tugboat. I’ve shown it here being sailed by Howard Rice at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival last Sunday.

Scamp is an unlikely Boat du Jour for my husband. After seeing it for the first time at the last Wooden Boat Festival, he came home and thought about it for a year. It lacked the truly graceful lines of other Welsford boats. It’s been joked that the front fell off. Yet, built with a hull filled with floatation, it’s virtually impossible to capsize. It’s wide, comfortable, practical to excess, and suitable for local waters. It’s not capacious, but there’s room for me and the dog. And, as he ages, it’s a stable boat in which my husband can easily move as he sails.

Howard Rice sailed this Scamp in the Port Hudson Marina to demonstrate how to recover from capsizing. He tried repeatedly and this was as close to capsize as he got. It refused. Howard went into the water after standing on the boat’s side. . .and the boat bounced back upright.

My husband bought plans for the Scamp during this demonstration and John Welsford signed the carrying tube. This Boat du Jour has committed to sticking around for a while. We’re both very excited. I’ll probably post photos of the boat as it takes shape in the months to come.

Boat dreams

Last weekend was the 36th annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. Dear husband had a spare ticket yesterday and I got to tag along. . .and, frankly, drool.

Ordinarily there are a lot of lovely boats berthed at Port Hudson, the marina adjacent to the Port Townsend Maritime Center. It’s a fine spot to walk, look, and dream. The Wooden Boat Festival raises the stakes in a celebration of all things boat. Boats come from near and far. Yachts and fine sailing and rowing boats. Boats you’ve seen in magazines, whose lines you’ve memorized, whose names you probably know if your dreams run to salt water. They’re here and often granting permission to come aboard.

In addition to the see-and-be-seen festival boats, there are dozens of presentations on boatbuilding, boating adventures, tools, and techniques. I sat in on a great interactive session on small craft seamanship skills moderated by Howard Rice, a sailor who, among other things, soloed Cape Horn in a 15′ sailing canoe. Yes, the Cape Horn.

The harbor was packed with beautiful boats, most of which would be singularly fine in a photo, and the festival was crowded with happy boat lovers.

My husband has lived and worked aboard boats and ships of varying sizes, from an aircraft carrier down to more modest fishing boat sizes. He has longed to build a small boat for himself and at last now has shop space sufficent to do this. Yesterday he bought the plans. I’ll introduce you to the vessel later this week. Stay tuned!

Paddle journey

Native American and Canadian First Nations paddlers in traditional canoes will arrive in Jamestown today on their way to a weeklong potlatch at Squaxin Island near Shelton, WA. The Paddle to Squaxin 2012 is this year’s version of a now annual cultural revival. Tribe members from Western Washington and Canada paddle to the potlatch location, stopping for celebrations hosted by local tribes along the waterway routes. Tonight the Jamestown S’Klallam will welcome up to 25 canoes from 10 to 12 tribes on their way to Squaxin.

The potlatch at the final destination is hosted by a different tribe each year. I took these photos two years ago as paddlers journeyed to the Makah Reservation at Neah Bay. The canoes were gorgeous. Many were hand carved from cedar logs. They can carry eight or more paddlers, called “pullers.” There are formal landing and departure protocols at each landing site and tribes sing and dance during their visits.