Sheer Clamps

Sheer Clamp clamped


(to start of project)

When you have to be away from a project like this, even for a few days, it’s always difficult to get started again. When you’re away for a full month, returning to it is like walking into someone else’s shop. Tools that once came to hand automatically, without looking, now hide from me in plain view where I last laid them down. The sequence of building steps, once carefully arranged and ordered in your mind like planes queued up on a runway, becomes as confused as a flock of birds. What comes next? And then after that? I can’t remember. Even my notes need translation, like they were written by someone else. Continue reading “Sheer Clamps”

Left Coast Expedition

Pigeon Point Lighthouse 


(to start of project)

 San Francisco (maybe California in general) is not what the rest of us think it is. Well, maybe a little – the way the Santa in the mall is a little like the real one. Like most places outside our imagination, San Francisco has continued to evolve, slowly becoming something else, while our snapshot of it has remained static since the 60’s and 70’s. But I didn’t know this before I went there. Real places, like real people, are far more complex than the cartoon shorthand we sometimes use for them. Continue reading “Left Coast Expedition”

That Inner Glow

Strip detail, glassed inside 


(to start of project)

Passed another big milestone this weekend. After 36 hours of work, both hulls are glassed inside, and that should be the end of the fiberglassing marathons.

I decided to embrace the staple holes and didn’t bother trying to fill them. They’ve become invisible to me already. They’re a basic part of the construction process anyway, seems dishonest to try and hide them. Continue reading “That Inner Glow”

Field Research

Richard Scofield , Boatyard Manager, and
Peter Thatcher, with the Second Oldest Melonseed


(to start of project)

The next phase of construction starts a series of tasks for which there is very little instruction. There’s a lot of latitude in how you go about these things, and every builder seems to approach them in slightly different ways. Like it says on the old explorer maps of The Known World, beyond here there be dragons. It’s a good time to see what other people have done and plan ahead, so I took a day off from work to do a bit of research in St. Michaels, Maryland. Continue reading “Field Research”

Journey to the Interior

 Hardware River along The Plank Road


(to start of project)

 My grandfather used to say that, given enough caulk and putty and paint, he was a pretty good carpenter. Of course, after beer-thirty, his skills diminished considerably, and one could rightly accuse him of boasting, but before noon he could cover up even pretty big mistakes. Me too. Continue reading “Journey to the Interior”

Cocke’s Mill

South Branch, Hardware River, along

The Plank Road runs west from Keene toward the mountains. It was a toll road, and the original toll house still stands, a private residence now. It’s a very old road, once paved in wooden boards, and along it teams of oxen rolled huge hogshead barrels and cartloads of good from over in the Shenandoah Valley, coming down the switchbacks through Rockfish Gap. Continue reading “Cocke’s Mill”

Decks Glassed

South Deck, Glassed and Trimmed


(to start of project)

It’s been an eventful week. Besides the big storm and flood, boat building and Independence Day celebrations, the dogs cornered a groundhog that drew blood before we could separate them, and one night cornered a skunk, which ended just as you’d expect. Emily did the requisite tomato juice bath at 2 in the morning. At least the basement is mostly dry after a week of running fans, which now are doing double duty dissipating the stink. Continue reading “Decks Glassed”