Sunday, May 31, 2009

Birthdays and Boatrides (we all must be living right)

First of all, I need to wish somebody special a Happy Birthday. We will be celebrating my father-in-law’s 80th birthday on Sunday the 31st. WOW . . . if you ran into him at one of the many activities that he participates in you would not guess that he is 80 years old. However, if you had the good fortune to sit and visit with him for a while, you would soon learn that he has done so many interesting things that there is no way he could be any younger than 80. Evidence of his skill and craftsmanship as a finish carpenters show in buildings all over western Washington and beyond. If I had a fraction of his hard earned knowledge of woodworking, I could quit my job and repair vintage boats for a living . . .maybe someday. When I met Ross about thirty years ago, he was just another hard working dad who I was sure was nice to me because his youngest daughter asked him to. But as time went along and we got to know each other better, I found that his kindness and generosity were genuine. Some of the stories of when he was a cowboy that he shared with us in those early years were, much to Rhonda’s surprise, stories she had never heard. There would be many more of camping, hiking, mountain climbing, canoeing, fishing, and, the list goes on. Now I imagine that all of this attention is kind of embarrassing Dad a little bit but I didn’t want this important milestone birthday to slip by without saying congratulations and thanks. We look forward to your next milestone birthday. Thank goodness that Sally didn’t plan the party any later than the 31st because Rhonda and I will be on our way north up the inside passage to S.E. Alaska and the Cape Decision Lighthouse as I had mentioned before. We, or at least I, will be on the lookout for old broken down boats, or should I say old wooden boats that have lived a long and interesting life. If I can’t bring back the boats I will at least bring back some pictures and, at some point, share them with you. The other thing that Scooter and I were hoping that I could bring back from S.E. Alaska is some of the beautiful Sitka spruce that litters the beach up there so that we could make some nice oars for the Whitehall. We shall see. Anyway, I will try to send out something when we get there to let you all know how the boat ride went ,or I will no doubt tell you all about it when I see you on the trail.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Moms and Boats

When I started to work on the Whitehall rowboat I though that it would be a great way to honor my dad. It had been one of the projects that he always wanted to do but never got to because of the many, many projects that had to be done first before he could justify spending his time on a frivolous thing like a broken old boat. I am finding out first hand just like my dad, how that works but with the help and encouragement of many friends and the all important support of my wife it will get done. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Today is about moms. I was thinking just the other day with Mother's Day coming up; how I could show my appreciation for all that she has done for me and continues to do. When you get to be our age, if you are lucky like me, your parents have pretty much everything they need or want so, going out and getting Mom something for Mother's Day has kind of gone by the wayside. I was also thinking that it may very well be that my passion for old wooden boats may have come not from where I had originally thought but could be attributed to my mom. Moms get the final vote on most thing in life so if my mom had thought that it would have been better for us to be at the local swimming pool in the summer instead of splashing around in the freezing waters of the Tacoma Narrows, we would have spent our summers at Titlow Pool. If mom had thought that those same waters were to dangerous to turn her only son loose in an 8’ dingy, she wouldn’t have told me to go rowing every time I complained about being board. I’m pretty sure she didn’t sleep very soundly when my sister and I thought that it would be great to spend the night sleeping aboard the house (more of a shack) that a neighbor and I built on a raft. It turns out that it was great and we did it many times but the point is that because of all of the life experience that my mom encouraged, not discouraged, I am now living a life that I am pretty damn happy with. Again, this summer, Mom is going to teach us how to live life by over coming her dislike for air travel and go to China with Dad. So, even though we are going to be excited to see the finished Whitehall rowboat in the water this summer, the relanching may have to wait till their return in August. Meanwhile we will just have to entertain ourselves with the Salmon Beach Rowboat. For that and everything else, Thanks Mom. And happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Coming Distractions

It seems that spring has barely started and already we are planning out our summer. As much as I just want to either, go out to the boat deck and scrape paint off of the rowboat or walk down to the boat shop and work on finishing the Whitehall, the siren call of the north is constantly whizzing around in the back of my mind.
Two years ago in July, I gave into the persistent invitations from my neighbor Chris to go with him out to Cape Decision, Alaska and spend a week volunteering my labor on their efforts to restore to its glory days an almost 80 year old lighthouse. I was bitten, not by the infamously large Alaskan mosquitoes, but by the S.E. Alaska bug. I now have the need to return every summer to get my fix.
Unfortunately my exposure has been limited to the area between the very southern tip of Kuiu Island (the location of the Cape Decision lighthouse) and as far north as Juno. Besides the incredible scenery and abundant wildlife, the experience of getting to stay and work on a historic piece of Alaskan history is quite a treat, not to mention the joy of just getting there.
I have had the quintessential Alaskan seaplane flight from Sitka to the lighthouse. Then, in 2008,the mail flight (by seaplane) from Sitka to Port Alexander (the locals just call it P.A.) followed by 2 hours of the roughest water I have ever experienced (10ft seas with a 3 ft. chop) across Chatham Straight in “Helga”, a 16 ft. skiff.
Now, for what may be the best of all, Rhonda, Chris and I will have the privilege of hitching a ride on a retired and converted fishing boat by the name of Cape Decision with Captain Jack Knutson. The trip is to be approximately 10 days from Fisherman’s Terminal on Lake Union Seattle WA. to the lighthouse at Cape Decision AK. We will spend the rest of our two weeks getting what work we can do done in the short time we have left, then make a mad dash for home and back to the beach where the rest of our distractions await.
The 4th of July, with is annual rowboat race only a couple of weeks from our return, birthdays, and an anniversary in August. The wooden boat festival is in September, and our commitment to each other to get away to do some hiking each month will add to the list.
Our good friend and neighbor Scott will be back from his latest stint on the tugboat he has been working on by early July. Watch for the re-launching party announcement for the Whitehall sometime in the mid-summer.
Meanwhile, we will start cutting into the big cedar log to see if there is any boat lumber inside, fishing season, Tuesday evening concerts at Skanzy Park in Gig Harbor, and great sunsets.
So, you can see that there is no lack of distractions here at the beach and it is a wonder we ever get anything done at all. But, we do stay busy. So don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the Salmon Beach Boat House brand and we will see you on the trail.