Chuckanut 12s First Splash Video

Finally getting around to posting this. T’s first paddle in her new skin-on-frame kayak designed by Dave Gentry.

Dave himself helped me build this boat. It weighs all of 25 pounds. Very easy for a small person to launch and paddle.

Thanks, Dave!



Finish Details – Chuckanut 12s

Dave Gentry’s Chuckanut 12s almost done.


Added another coat of paint to deck and hull in the evenings earlier this week so it would dry by the weekend.

Friday night, I made a rough wishbone with marine ply from Dave, added some oak trim molding to beef up the edge, and joined the two sides with a riding “pommel” made of hardwood scrap from my shop. It was glued, parts clamped together, and the whole thing screwed in place, the pieces slightly oversize.



Saturday morning the glue was set well enough to trim off the excess wood and sand smooth, then varnish.



I’ve been trying out a water based polyurethane. I don’t know how well it will hold up, but it sure is easy to use. Dries to touch in a half hour, and can recoat in two. So while I worked on the rub rails I could take a break to give it a light sanding and another coat. By the end of the day it was done and ready to attach. Just screwed back in place.










The rub rails were pretty easy, just a lot of countersink drilling and screws. Pre-varnished before attaching. Straps help when you only have two hands.




By Saturday night, it was ready for a splash.





The only thing missing is a small piece of plywood coaming for the back of the cockpit. I must have left that over at Dave’s shop. I’ll see if he has a scrap I can use.

The folding canoe seats we already had seem to fit well. They strap down under the floorboards. Should be a welcome bit of padding for back and bottom. Maybe that and a life jacket will be enough for comfy recline.

I have material to add bungie gear straps to the fore and aft decks, but may wait until we try it out first.


#skinonframekayak #handmade #woodenboat #eyeinhand

Two Day Boat Build – Chuckanut 12s

Dave Gentry with the Chuckanut 12s we built in two days.


Can you build a whole boat in two days?

Apparently you can. I had no idea.

Dave Gentry designs small skin-on-frame boats. There are lots of boat designers out there – some living, many not. Many beautiful boats out there, big and small. Most require a large investment in both time and money to bring into the world. But Dave has found a particular niche: His forte is to turn a small pile of wood and materials into a fun boat, with as little money and effort as possible. And he’s very good at it.

You can see all Dave’s designs on his website at:

His plans and kits can be ordered through Duckworks here:
Duckworks – Plans and Kits by Dave Gentry

A few weeks ago, we met Dave and his daughter over at the local reservoir to try out a couple of his paddling boats. T had shoulder surgery early in the summer, which put a crimp in our canoeing schedule. I knew one of Dave’s light weight designs might be a boat she could handle on her own until she  gets her strength back. A form of physical and mental therapy, and way more fun than the exercises the doctor prescribed.

Continue reading “Two Day Boat Build – Chuckanut 12s”

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.