Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finaly something to report

Man has it been a long time since I sat down to update our poor neglected blog site. Sorry about that. I blame Facebook but really I am to blame. I keep getting myself involved in more projects when I still haven't started ones that are staring me in the face every day. We have moved our boat shop down the beach into #76 Salmon Beach but still are getting things in working order and clearing out enough space to set up some project space. The Whitehall is in the new shop and today we moved the Salmon Beach rowboat to....The Center for Wooden Boats at Camma Beach, Camano Island. Now I know that it is a long way from our shop but we still have a few few projects in the cue before the poor old girl will get any attention from us. We thought Andrew's plans to have some school kids help him take the lines were just what we had hoped we would be doing with it at the beach and, if he has the time and the students, then that is where she should be. So for the next year (and a day), we have a warm, dry and busy boat shop two hours north of Salmon Beach that we can go to see her any time. I have asked Andrew to keep us posted on the progress (with pictures I hope) and when we hear from him, so will you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

From one Cape to another

It makes me a little sad to open up my blog and see how long it has been since I took the time to sit down and make contact with the outside world. For those that don’t see me that often, you might think that I went to Cape Decision and stayed there. As much as I would like to have E-mailed Rhonda and asked her to bring some food, a summer’s supply of Port Royal Stout from our friends at Seven Seas, and our dog Captain Jack, I did not. We did however have a very productive two weeks and at the same time made some good friends at the University of Alaska Southeast. I would like to elaborate but want to use my time to bring us a little closer to the present.

As always the fourth of July celebration at Salmon Beach was a big all day party more or less starting with the rowboat race that starts on or around noon. I had our 1948 Willits canoe in the water for its annual paddle up and down the beach and the conditions were perfect to actually participate in the race. Amber was supposed to paddle with me but ran a little late so I took on the field by myself and held second place from start to finish. It was still the prettiest boat on the water and paddles like a dream.

In August Rhonda put together a very nice sit down dinner to celebrate my birthday (does 56 at 56 sounds like a good reason to have a little party?). Then late in the month my two wonderful sisters-in-law (Jeana and Linda) and our daughter Amber threw a party to mark our 30th wedding anniversary. The gathering was wonderful with friends and family filling the room with love and laughter. A few hours later down at the beach our special group of beach friends threw another party that went on till 2:00 am the next morning. It is humbling to be the center of attention like that but we had a great time and we thank you all for your love and support. Nobody can successfully do anything for thirty years without the help of the people you surround yourself with.

All this time we are getting Amber’s new place ready for her to move into. It has taken almost every week night and all of our summer weekends and we are just about there. I knew when I was making plans for my trip to Alaska that it would be pretty much it for my summer but It has been worth it to not only spend some valuable time with our daughter but also to get a chance to see her so excited about putting a house back into shape after years of neglect. The place was a grim sight at the start but she stayed with it and our finished product is something she can be proud of for a long time.

Not that we needed any more projects on our plate but as we finish up this one and start to dream about getting back to the Whitehall, an opportunity that could not be ignored popped up . It think I may know what it may have been like to be in a boat that just harpooned a whale. The opportunity arises, you take your shot and hang on for dear life and ride it out till it kills you or you get your prize. It has felt a little like that for the past month when Rhonda and I along with our neighbor, good friend, and now partner made and offer on a place at Salmon Beach when it came up for sale. Some things in life are, in my opinion, meant to be and I felt from the beginning that this was on of those things. Just like before when Rhonda and I bought #56 this could not have happened without the help and cooperation of many many people. In both cases it was a little like putting together one of those 1000 piece puzzles but in this case we had the added excitement of a very short window of time and the possibility that someone else was more interested(hardly likely) and better funded (more likely). Thank you to everyone that we involved in this, especially my wife who for no perceivable good reason continues to allow me to pursue my wild dreams. I am pleased to announce that the new home of the S.B. R.P. rowboat will be in the first floor shop at #76 Salmon Beach.

 Jessie at #34, location of our current boat restoration project has asked if we would at least finish and launch the Whitehall down there and I see no reason why we shouldn’t do just that. He and Kat have the perfect little sandy piece of beach for a relaunching party. So sometime this fall we will get organized and get started on the new shop while hopefully the finish work continues on the Whitehall.

The main reason that I have the time to sit down and get you all caught up is that Rhonda, Chris and I are sitting around out at Chris’s parents Cape Cod summer home. Rhonda and I had been planning an anniversary trip for this fall and Chris was looking to share his place with someone so we took him up on his offer. The trip has been wonderful with our first stop at Mystic Seaport. I was more than a little disappointed that we were going to miss our annual pilgrimage to the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend until spending a full day at Mystic. I can tell you that it takes more than one day to properly take in all it has to offer and we went away happy and tired. I definitely want to go back to see the small boat collection .I always come away from the boat festival inspired and energized I think that between our great experience at Mystic and the R and R of two weeks away from all of our projects, we will be ready jump back into it when we get back.

Yesterday a good friend of Chris’s came down from Boston and the four of us took a field trip all the way to the north end of the Cape and sought out as many light houses as we could. We got to three different sites and got into one for a tour. Now you all have access to my description of my trips to Cape Decision Light House in the old postings here on the blog so you know what an adventure it can be just to get to it and I wouldn’t want to suggest that they have it easy here but the Cape Cod Light is in a golf course for crying out loud. Granted, they do have a beach erosion problem and the light has to be moved every 130 years or so but still…

So tomorrow we are planning a side trip out to Nantucket, hoping to see more of the east coast small boat fleet and I will let you know what we find. Till then, if the weather is bad don’t let it get you down and if it is nice ,well, get out and enjoy it while you can and we will see you on the trail.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Watching wind blow

It has been far too long since I posted an update but I have at least one good excuse and lots of bad ones. Unfortunately I have no good news about the rowboat to report but on the other hand no bad news, unless you would consider that the fact that I haven’t even touched the boat since my last post bad news. It is not as if I have just been sitting buy the fire looking out the window however…I have been very busy. Most of my time has been spent with my daughter getting her first house ready to move into. Fun, but a real time eater with so many other things on my list. Actually more than one list if you break it down into boat related and non boat related. The non boat related list seems to be getting longer the harder I work at it and the proclamation in my last post that “this is the year “ may have been as usual a little optimistic but I prefer to look at things that way, it keeps me from just giving up.

The reason that I even have the time to sit down to write this is that I am waiting for the weather to break in Juneau AK so we can make a dash for the Cape Decision Light house (one of my favorite distractions). This years trip in will be by boat from Juneau with a load of brand new kitchen cabinets. If the weather cooperates the boat, a 32 ft. welded aluminum landing craft style boat with twin 225’s should move us along at 27 knots. An approximately 7 hr trip. If the wind does not settle down, well ,It could be a long wet day. The reports we have gotten from the light house is that the sea is “as bad as they have ever seen it” and the fact that one of the windows blew in would be a good indicator of that. I will have more about the trip as it progresses.

A few weeks ago Scooter and I got to help sail the schooner W.N. Ragland for the annual mothers’ day event at the Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach on Camano Island Washington. My deepest thanks and eternal gratitude to our friend Andrew Washburn, who runs the Center for Wooden Boat at Cama Beach and the captain and current owner of the Ragland Walter Wallace for the opportunity to crew on such a beautiful and special wooden sailing craft. It was, since I was a kid on the beach at Fox Island, a fantasy of mine to sail on a ship like that and to actually realize a dream like that on such a glorious sunshiny day with enough wind to sail…well I am the living proof that fantasy can become reality . Dream to live and live to dream, check out the Ragland on the Wallace Yacht Co. web site and you will see why we have been coveting this boat for the past few years. It was also a nice treat when on Sunday (Mothers Day) Andrew got out one of the centers nice double rowing boats so Rhonda and I could go for a row. It was another spectacular sunny day, no wind and perfect for our several mile row.

I just received a call from my traveling companions and good friends Steve and Rachel and it sounds like we are going to try to leave at 5:00 AM tomorrow. The adventure begins, I will keep you all posted. Next stop Cape Decision Light House!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2010 This Is The Year!

We have all finally made it thru the holidays and into the new year, no into a new decade. I have to say the optimist in me is thinking that this is going to be a good one. My friend Scott is back and we have even managed to squeeze in a day of work on the Whitehall before he flew off to see his folks and before hitting the books again. We had decided that although we had done several coats of epoxy on the inside of the boat that there were enough holes and cracks that if we didn’t fill them we were risking somehow getting water in contact with the old tender original wood that we have worked so hard to protect. So once again we are going over the interior of the boat filling scrapping and sanding. I have discovered that the most valuable skill one can bring to a boat restoration project of any size is patience.

We are into our winter weather now with short days and plenty of rain, good weather for staying inside and working on a boat (as long as it isn’t freezing outside as we don’t have a very good heat source in the shop).This has also been the time of year when we get our highest tides of the year and as long as the wind doesn’t blow, it can make for interesting water watching as the stuff that is floated off by the high tide floats by on the outgoing current. I am not suggesting that a good blow with a 14+ tide isn’t interesting but it can be a little destructive and that’s just another thing to keep me from the boat shop.

A week before Christmas Eve I dropped something large and heavy on my right foot and although it didn’t break any bones it has slowed me down some. I did however in the week that I was at home with my foot propped up, have a chance to complete a little project that I was trying to get done for Christmas. I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to do something to show my appreciation to some of my friends that have been so helpful on the current rowboat project. So with the help of the good people at Ink Inc. in Tacoma, we came up with some nice artwork to put on tee-shirts and sweatshirts. They came out great although the one I had done for Amber was too big so I will be doing another order soon.

I have never been one to do the whole New Years Resolution thing but I have been thinking that I should make a promise to myself to spend more quality time in the boat shop. That sounds a whole lot like a resolution but I may do better with a promise. Anyway someone the other day asked me if this would be the year that we would be rowing the Whitehall in the 4th of July rowboat race and I had to smile. I have been saying every year that “this is the year” and this may be the year. So hang in there and tag along if you like, there will be some interesting distractions (some already in the planning stages) and I will try to keep you up to date as best as I can. Happy New Year

Monday, November 23, 2009

A fond farewell to our friend and good neighbor Ib Werner Christensen

We said goodbye to an old friend on Saturday. Ib Christensen has been gone since September and we all in our own way have said goodbye to him but had not gotten together as a group till now. The gathering was hosted by Peter McDonald, one of Ib’s long time friends. Ib was a proud and independent man and did not want to be a burden to anyone. He allowed only a select few to help him during his loosing battle with cancer, Peter was one, and we all thank him for it. It was a great party and just the kind of event Ib would have enjoyed.

I met Ib 20 years ago after buying into the community of Salmon Beach. His one story cabin was the first place to the north of mine, so close that our roofs actually were connected at the trail end over our boat decks. Over the years as tends to happen in such a close community, Ib became a part of our family. His advice and generosity towards me and my family was the kind that I had been use to getting from my mom’s dad. Even though Ib was the kind of man that enjoyed his privacy, he rarely turned down an invitation to dinner and for a few years running accepted an invite to Mom an Dad’s Christmas Eve dinner at their place on Fox Island. He only stopped coming when he felt to unsteady on his feet to make the steep stairs to the second floor of the barn where we gather each year.

In the beginning our interactions were limited to beach business since our place had to be rented out full time. When our first renters had to move and we ended up renting to collage students from University of Puget Sound, we had the summers to do our cleanups and repairs and also got a better opportunity to get to know our neighbors, and for them to get to know us. Some of the best times were when in the afternoon, after his mid day nap, Ib would sit out on the little strip of deck next to the boat ramp on the south side of his cabin. This was the perfect spot to catch the afternoon sun and he would sit there smoking his pipe and enjoy a glass of wine. He wouldn’t say anything but you knew he was there. The complex aromas of salt air, fresh cut fire wood, and pipe smoke will always remind me of Ib (although I think that the pipe smoke would probably do it by itself). If Ib felt like visiting he would call over to me that I was working to hard and should sit with him for a little while and “swap lies”. Always a good invitation to accept. He was always good about reminding me and Rhonda that there was a time to work and a time to appreciate living at Salmon Beach. If he was out on his deck for the sunset and could tell that we were going to miss a good one we would here him calling “Scott, is time for the sunset” so Rhonda and I would stop what we were doing and come out to the front deck and quietly, with Ib on his deck and me and Rhonda on ours, we would watch the sun go down over the harbor. We all need to slow down at least once a day to appreciate life, and a few minutes to watch a sunset seems like a worthwhile use of time. Thanks Ib.

In December of 1996, the beach had lost power from an ice and snow storm. Ib was starting his dinner on a camp stove he had set up in the kitchen and the hose connecting the stove to a five gallon propane tank was old and apparently cracked. By the time the neighbors saw the smoke and came to Ib’s assistance the fire had gotten into the old dry wood of Ib’s kitchen walls and there was no stopping it. When I got home from work a little before five, Rhonda was on the front porch telling me that the neighbors had called to tell us that Ib’s place had caught on fire. I jumped back in the car and at the blazing pace of about 20 mph (the winter sun had gone down and refroze the streets) I drove across town towards the beach the whole time wondering how bad it might be and that we might have to put him up in our place next door since it was not being rented at the time. I arrived to a parking lot full of fire trucks and I made my way down the trail. It didn’t help my anxiety when I had to climb over a land slide that was the trail behind cabin #39(the beach was not having a very good day). As I got closer I began to realize how bad of a day it was. My thoughts turned from putting Ib up in our place to, did we even have a place. The smoke coming from #54 was so thick that I could not even see the second floor #56. After a few tries I found a fire fighter that would lead me through the smoke and rubble and hoses to the other side where our house stood, Intact, charred but intact. Luckily the burn damage was limited to the exterior on the north side. The inside was water and smoke damaged. Ib’s was however a total loss. The shared experience of the fire cemented our friendship and linked us forever in Salmon Beach history .I always looked at it as an opportunity to make some needed improvements to our place and for Ib’s part he could have taken the insurance money and let some one else deal with the hassle of rebuilding but Ib had a vision. His hope was to build a place laid out in such a way that it would be a place for the community to gather with a resident caretaker on the upper floor. The location being almost smack dab in the middle of Salmon Beach was perfect. It was the only time I ever saw him really spend his money but now that I think about it he probably looked at it like it was the insurance company’s money and that made it easier. The second part of his vision was to see that the community would take over the ownership of what he dubbed the Longhouse. He offered to sell the longhouse to the Salmon Beach Improvement Club and he swore me to secrecy at the time but it can be told now and everyone should know. His intentions were to gift the Longhouse to the beach if we would agree to buy it. His offer was more generous than anyone ever knew. How in a place as precarious as Salmon Beach where if the storms and landslides don’t get you, the City of Tacoma or Washington State Fisheries will. How we could turn into such a bunch of wimpy worry warts afraid of liability and responsibility I will never understand. We were lucky though that Ib allowed some of his beach friends to hold some special events there and until he finally sold it, in the last few years people were willing to ask to use it for its designed purpose as long as it was Ib takeing the risk, not us…go figure.

A few years ago he gave us his boat, he said he was getting to old and we need it more than he did. The only catch (it seems with Ib there was always some strings attached) was that when we were done with it we had to gift it to another “boat needy” Salmon Beacher. I still have the hand written note with my conditions of ownership .I will cherish it and probably copy it word for word when it is my turn to find a worthy caretaker for Ib’s Salmon Beach boat. Not long after that he offered to sell us the boat ramp that separated our two places. It was one of the few parts of his orignal place that survived the fire since it was high tide at the time and covered with water. We agreed on a price and payment plan and his only complaint was that the contract was too long and he didn’t think that he would live long enough to see it paid off. I joked with him that I though that I knew him well enough to know that he would find a way to make it till he got paid in full…and you know what, he did.

So as I sit here nursing the last of a day long hangover from last nights send off, I feel lucky to have landed in a place where your neighbors become family. Hopefully I can remember what I learned from my good neighbor Ib and carry it forward. Ib loved Salmon Beach and added greatly to it's character. not only are we trying to preserve the history of Salmon Beach by restoring a little wooden boat but by keeping the stories of the people who lived with the boats preserved for the future and in our small way keep Ib’s memory alive.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Check us out in the latest Issue

What a pleasant surprise to open the latest issue of Wooden Boat and find not only a great article on the Center for wooden boats at Cama Beach but also a glowing reports of the efforts of several of our favorite and local maritime organizations . The Port Townsend Maritime Center, Gig Harbor’s Eddon Boat, and the Foss Waterway Seaport here in Tacoma. I just finished going cover to cover and I may need to get a second copy of this November/December issue #211 .This will be the one that will not get tucked away but kept on the table right next to my big red leather chair .Ok none of them get “tucked away” at least for the first year but you know what I mean. Immediately following the Currents article describing the Pacific North West’s abundance of maritime activities is a reoccurring feature called Getting Started in Boats. This one #19 in the series Oars, Oarlocks, and Rowing is almost perfect timing since the length and placement of the oars and oarlocks has been an ongoing topic of discussion during our all too infrequent work sessions at the boat shop. I will not boar you with the complicated mathematical equation like I did to Rhonda but I am surprised that I could get so excited about a little bit of math (not a subject that excited me in school). A little deeper into this issue is an article that is about a 100 year old Norwegian rescue boat (pictured on the cover). Again this well written article is interesting in its timing since we had just a few weeks ago looked at an old US coastguard surf rescue boat built in the 1930s. Is some body trying to tell us something? Maybe my boat “senses” are just more tuned in these days, who knows. Anyway the bimonthly Wooden Boat is a wonderful way to pass the last few wakening minutes of my day and when I can’t keep my eyes open any more I will sit back and picture the issue that someday will have one of our boats inside its cover. Until that happens (and it will) you will just have to settle for the musings and pictures here at the Salmon Beach Rowboat Project. Enjoy.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catching Up

Boy have I been a bad blogger. I have been so busy that I haven’t even stopped long enough to post a simple note to tell you that we didn’t get eaten by bears in the Olympic rain Forrest or that we didn’t drink too many Port Townsend Beers and fall off of the dock at the Wooden Boat Festival. I didn’t even get a chance to brag that I was getting a second opportunity to go the Cape Decision Light house or that we went to look at a 1934 coast guard surf rescue boat that Andrew found on the internet. So I guess it is time to do some catching up.

Since my last posting Rhonda and I had a great hike (about 12 miles) up to a lake above the Sol Duc hot springs. It rained buckets but the scenery was unbelievable and in my opinion the best end to a long hike is to soak in a hot springs at the end of the day and if you can get away with it soak in those same hot springs the whole next day.

After a great seafood dinner at Scooter and Willi's with a great group of people to celebrate Willi's birthday on saturday night, Sunday we went to the wooden boat festival at Port Townsend. The weather was perfect, a nice warm day no clouds and enough wind for the boats that knew what they were doing to sail out of the harbor at the end of the day. What a beautiful sight. Scooter ,Willi, Rhonda and I had a great day together and our only disappointment was that the roasted cashew vendor didn’t show up this year. Mark my words; we will be attending next year’s festival with a boat of our own! The venue just keeps getting better, this year they had the new building open that includes a beautiful boat shop that will only get better when they start working on boats in it.

Next thing you know I am being talked into a second trip to the light house at Cape Decision AK. And even though we had what I thought was an epic journey in June this one was yet another Alaskan adventure that I don’t have the space or time to recount here. Let’s just say that Cape D. in late September is a whole different experience from any of the trips in June or July.

No sooner had I gotten home and muddled thru what was left of that week and our friends from Juno, Steve and Rachel drop into town for one of their whirlwind visits and we ended up at the Harvest Festival at Tahoma Farms on Saturday night around a bonfire listening to a great four piece bluegrass band from Olympia called the Black Berries. The next day we all went over to look at what may be one of our more interesting future projects. A wooden surf rescue boat that had been converted to a fishing boat at some point in its life and is currently resting in a building out in Graham WA., waiting for a troupe of wild eyed wooden boat enthusiasts to bring her back to life and restore her to a more original rescue boat condition. Now that sound like fun doesn’t it?

Another very busy work week and then…whew the weekend and a chance to slow down and take a breath. Well we would have done that but when our neighbor Chris decided we needed to all go to the harbor for breakfast on Saturday morning (it was a nice morning and the water was smooth) Amy , Chuck, Chris , Rhonda and I piled into the boat and off we went. Breakfast was good and we stumbled upon the Gig Harbor Chum festival so we wandered through. You would think that I might have been most interested in the wooden fishing boat that is being restored there at the end of the bay but the display of rocks from the annual Gig Harbor round rock competition was the thing that caught my eye. Anyway we had a nice boat ride and I actually got up to Amber’s house to do a little work before the day was gone. Sunday we drove over to eastern Washington to check out Rhonda’s Dads new place. Couldn’t find any boats over there but did take a spin around the property on the new Quad that they just got.

So here we are burning thru another work week enjoying the fall weather with a fire going in the wood stove Jack curled up and snoozing on the couch and Randie (our cat) looking over my shoulder as I finish this up. The daylight is pretty much gone when I get back to the beach these days and it is not going to get any better for quite a few months but Scooter will be back soon enough and by then I hope to have the other projects in my life to a point that we can take some time to do what we love best and that would be hanging out in the boat shop.

So thanks for your patience with my many distractions, we will get to the Salmon Beach Rowboat some day…I promise.