Skin on Frame Designs


T is interested in a small, light boat that she can manage on her own. My hunch is a skin-on-frame kayak is just the ticket. Conveniently, one of the most well-known skin-on-frame boat designers lives nearby – friend Dave Gentry.

Dave now has dozens of incredibly varied designs; everything from kid-size kayaks and standup paddle boards, to sailing craft, rowing sculls, dinghies, and a new motor canoe. He always seems to have new designs for floaty things on the drawing board. All are light, durable, relatively easy and inexpensive to build.

One of his most popular models comes in five sizes: the Chuckanut series of open cockpit kayaks ranges from 10 feet to 17. His Chuckanut 12 hits the sweet spot for many solo paddlers, and the “S” version of the 12 is more slender, just right for smaller statures. He offered to bring one over to the local pond for us to try out. On this lovely evening, he arrived with not one boat to try, but four!



Here’s some video from the tryouts. Just a lovely, pleasant evening all around.



direct youtube link


Most of the boats Dave has on hand are prototypes. These are the boats he builds to work out construction details. From these he derives the final designs that make it into the plans. Some of these “test boats” he sells or gives to family, a few stay around as part of his personal stable.

Today, in addition to the Chuckanut 12s, he brought a big motor canoe (one of the new designs), a clear-skinned “glass bottom” Wee Lassie, and a tiny canoe built special for his 8 year old daughter, complete with pool floatie outriggers like training wheels on a bike. All on top of, inside, and towed behind his little Subaru wagon.


Indian Creek Motor Canoe




Chuckanut 12s




Wee Lassie with pvc skin




Oru Folding Kayak


Our friend Jenn joined us with her Oru origami folding kayak, for a menagerie of unconventional watercraft.



The Chuckanut 12s fit T perfectly. At around 25 pounds, she can lift it with one hand. In the water, it’s stable and easy to paddle, even for an inexperienced paddler, and tracks well for its short waterline. Once she got inside, she didn’t come out until time to leave. We spent a lovely couple of hours playing around as the sun went down.


Chuckanut 12s












I took the Wee Lassie, which is almost too small for my 6 foot 180 pound frame, but a fun boat to play around in. Dave says the transparent skin is not very practical – it’s hard to work with the PVC, which stretches only when you don’t want it to, and is not as durable as fabric. He built it for display at boat shows to reveal the framing. And it actually worked – both as a boat and attention draw.  It is pretty cool looking.



Despite advising against it, a number of other boats in different models have been built this way, both by Dave and by customers. The effect is clearly best in super clear water; but even in our murky green reservoir, it was nice to see the sunlight sparking through the sides, and watch the plants gliding by.






Dave and his daughter settled in to the big motor canoe. He uses a small 12 volt trolling motor that he customized with a varnished wood cowling – new tech with a vintage look.  They spent the whole time exploring the shoreline, sneaking up on herons, and zipping back and forth around the lake.












The big canoe, with the two of them, is so light it’s easily driven by the little motor and a small battery – smaller than a lunch box. Takes so little power, Dave says, by the end of the evening it would still show fully charged.




The test run is a success. Next step is to build one for T. After that, maybe one for me.


Sassafras Sunrise

Sunrise on Turner Creek, Maryland, June 2012


Still one of my favorite photos. Might have been my first overnight sleeping on one of the boats.

I remember waking up to the sound of wild turkeys and owls along the shore, seeing the clouds turn from cool blue to vivid crimson as the boat wandered slowly at anchor. Then sitting up to see the lotus leaves floating in that same reflected sky.


Chasing Ghosts: A Short Documentary Debunks a Long-Held Theory About What Pollinates the Ghost Orchid | Colossal

Swamps are such amazing places, and when not maligned and drained, are mercifully neglected.


In their quest to identify the pollinator of the ghost orchid for the first time, a team of explorers, photographers, and filmmakers spent three summers standing waist-deep in alligator- and snake-laden water, swatting air blackened by mosquitoes, and climbing to sometimes nausea-inducing heights. They came away with a startling new discovery – and an even deeper love for Florida’s wildest wetlands – revelations that may help to conserve both the endangered orchid and its shrinking home.




Produced by Grizzly Creek Films in partnership with bioGraphic:​


* Instagram: @grizzlycreekfilms @biographic_magazine @bendicci @carltonward @peter_houlihan @macstonephoto


Source: Chasing Ghosts: A Short Documentary Debunks a Long-Held Theory About What Pollinates the Ghost Orchid | Colossal

Paddling the Canal at Winter Harbor


direct youtube link


We snuck in a few days at Winter Harbor this year. We had to forfeit last year, and missed it. Too much life going on. But this year, with the house nearly done we felt we could take a few days off and not lose the chance again. Glad we did.

The sailboats are still in storage, but we took the canoe, paddled it over and back. I took photos and video as usual, but just haven’t had time to look at any of it. Went back tonight, back at my editing station again finally, and got a nice feeling from this part. Enjoy.

May we all have more days like this in the coming year.




Busy Intersection

Triple Crossing, Shockoe Bottom


A whole lot going on here.

Starting at the top:

  1. A six lane interstate
  2. Two exit ramps
  3. Three railroads (one dating from the late 1800s and still in use)
  4. A flood wall
  5. A city street
  6. A walking trail/bike path/tow path
  7. A canal built in the 1700s.


postcards from the road, Richmond, Virginia

St. Michaels ~ video

John England in his Chesapeake Spritsail skiff


Finally getting back to the video from Saint Michaels. Kinda nice to have, now that the boats are put away. Wood stove season has arrived and leaves are falling off the trees.

Some of the sailing clips include Dave Gentry in his Chautaqua sailing canoe, Steve Earley in his Pathfinder Spartina, Jim Drake in his Coquina Molly Malone. I had a lovely long glide along John England in his sprit skiff as he ghosted all the way around Yankee Point and the lighthouse – a long unbroken clip,  a piece of which appears above.

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum staff were working on several restorations, steam bending mast hoops and splicing steel rigging.

The race on Saturday was a real nail-biter. Almost no wind, so the boats drifted in close quarters all the way to the finish line in slow motion. Captains and crews throughout were close enough to lob creative disparagements from boat to boat, along with a few cold beers.

. . .

I’ve been asked about the music. Back before the internet was really big, there were these things called bulletin boards and chat rooms organized by interest. Very low tech, and very non-commercial, homespun affairs. There were some good ones put together by amateur musicians, who shared self-made recordings for supportive critiques, tips and tricks, etc.. The music was shared freely without reservation. Some really good stuff by really talented people.  I still have some of those recordings I’ve saved all these years, and still play them.

All the music in this video comes from Tom Atwood. He’s now a professional photographer, and looks like he’s still making music. You can find him online here:






St. Michaels ~ Day of Rest

New wood and old.



Sunday is my second favorite day of the festival. Some folks pack up and leave early. Those that linger are here for the boating, and stay as long as they can,  savor it.

Fall comes later now to the Mid-Atlantic, but the leaves are starting to turn. You know the season is nearly over, winter coming soon. Another reminder to get it while you can, cuz it won’t be around much longer.