Scamp update

If you follow this blog you may recall that last September I posted some photos of the Scamp sailboat in action at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. My husband bought plans at the festival to build a Scamp and I promised occasional updates on progress of the build. The Scamp above is one on display at the festival.

The Scamp boat is a project of the Small Craft Advisor magazine based in Port Townsend. “Scamp” is an acronym for Small Craft Advisor Magazine Project and the magazine owns the rights to the Scamp. In addition to selling the boat plans, the magazine also sells pre-cut kits for construction and co-hosts “Scamp Camps,” classes to construct the boat under the direction of the Scamp designer, John Welsford.

After studying the boat plans and looking at his growing list of questions about its construction, my husband decided to turn his back on the time honored, stereotypical male practice of not asking for directions. . .he signed up to attend the third Scamp Camp this coming March. A month or two ago he attended a mast-building class with members of the first Scamp Camp (a second one was held in Michigan in November). In the meantime he has been constructing some of the parts and pieces that will go on the boat.

I’ll see if I can gate crash the Scamp Camp and take some photos of the work in progress. In the meantime, stay tuned. I’ll see if my favorite boat builder will permit me to take a shot or two of what he’s been working on.


The historic gaff-rigged schooner Adventuress has been hauled out for refit in Port Townsend and we stopped by to take a look at her last week. Launched in 1913 in Maine, she has led a colorful life and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Adventuress was designed by B.B. Crowninshield for John Borden who sailed her to Alaska intending to catch a bowhead whale for the American Musuem of Natural History in New York. While the whaling adventure failed, naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews filmed fur seals on this journey, which led to early efforts to protect them.

Borden sold Adventuress to the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association and she served 35 years transporting pilots to and from cargo vessels on the California coast just outside San Francisco Bay. During World War II she became a U.S. Coast Guard Vessel guarding San Francisco Bay.

She eventually made her way up to Seattle and the Puget Sound area where she now is operated by Sound Experience as part of an environmental education experience on Puget Sound.

Adventuress is a beautiful boat and is getting repairs she obviously needs. Planking below her waterline is being replaced, along with other work that the 100 year-old lady has earned in her long and storied life. You can see both old and new (smooth) planking above the worker’s head in this shot.

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!