Monday, October 16, 2017

Building Kayaks on the Oregon Coast

I hear the sad strings of fall all around. In the Pacific Northwest, once the rains come, there seems no end for months. Folks despair. But I love the fall months, the soft edges, brilliant colors, chilly mornings, diffused light. Even the sometimes violent weather makes me feel alive.

There is no better place for a weather-watcher like myself than the coast of Oregon. Every minute brings a new drama. Call me strange, but I'm never happier than in the teeth of a gale.

Last week was pure heaven for me, as we spent our fall "vacation" building kayaks in the historic US Coast Guard Lifeboat Station, in Garibaldi, Oregon, US. There was weather aplenty, as nature unfolded in all her seasonal glory. Around here, this season brings the salmon back from their ocean journey to spawn in home waters, which of course brings out the fishermen. Talk about a hearty breed.

I'm no fisherman. Don't get me wrong, I love seafood. But I'm a single-handing sailor and there is plenty to do on a sailboat, so very little time for fishing. And when I'm not sailing, I build boats, something my fishing friends are grateful for, to the point I really don't need to fish for myself. But, I digress........

Those who know me and my passion for building boats may be surprised to hear it is not my favorite activity. Sailing is.
Thus, I found myself in a quandary last week, while we built five Pygmy Kayaks at Pier's End, in Garibaldi. The old Coast Guard Lifeguard Station is 750 feet out from shore, in deep water, so the view from every window is like that from a ship. I can hear you now -"poor old Doryman, he's stuck inside an amazing historical building, surrounded by immeasurable beauty, forced to build boats". There was some whining and wishing to be out sailing, for which I am not proud.
My crew were sympathetic, but unconcerned because they were having the time of their lives. All participants were volunteers, and only one of a dozen had ever built a boat before. We paired off to build five kayaks from kits. Kit building is not what I do, and while kits provide shortcuts, they also present their own challenges. Perhaps we'll explore that topic one day.
Pygmy kayak kits are not simple, and my condolences to those of you who have had to labor through their instruction manual. Fortunately our team had someone versed in Greek. I see my job, in mentoring a group of builders new to the trade, to play to individual strengths. The end goal for me is to build community, so the Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative is a perfect fit. Building boats as a group is a metaphor for life. The true beauty of such an exercise is how people from all walks of life and philosophies find common cause and become fast friends.
The week was exhausting - I'm no spring chicken. So, glad to be home and resting, with memories of an experience I'll never forget. Special thanks and lots of love to all who participated. Garibaldi rocks!

Doryman burning the midnight oil. It's the instructor's responsibility that there are no loose ends.

All photos courtesy of my awesome friend, Heather Hicks.

Special thanks to Kristen Penner, organizer supreme.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pier's End


As mentioned previously, Doryman's upcoming community project is to mentor the good folks in Garibaldi, Oregon, US, while they build five Pygmy Pinguino Sport kayaks. If you live anywhere on the Oregon coast, you know how beautiful it can be.

The partners in the Garibaldi Cultural Initiative are supporting historic preservation in the Tillamook Bay region, while providing youth and the community meaningful, hands-on opportunities to learn about Oregon's beautiful coastal watersheds, estuaries and maritime heritage.

You can be involved in this kayak building project at no cost. The event is scheduled for the week of October 9th-14th, so please mark your calendars and show up anytime that week ready to roll up your sleeves. No woodworking or boatbuilding experience necessary. You will leave with memories to last a lifetime. The finished kayaks will remain for use by the public, courtesy of Pier's End - Garibaldi's historic United States Coast Guard Lifeboat Station reclamation project.

More information, directions and free registration can be found at SaveTheBoathouse. Hope to see old friends and new there.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Toledo Wooden Boat Show 2017

Family Boat Build, Solar Eclipse, Garibaldi Coast Guard.

What do these all have in common? Please stay tuned...

During the Toledo Wooden Boat Show this year, the popular Family Boat Build featured the Tango Stand-Up-Paddleboard.

We built three SUPs in four days, a new design for everyone involved. Anyone familiar with building wood airplanes would recognize the method - the boards even resemble a wing.

The builders ranged from a local shipwright and his niece, to a group of Job Corps teens, to the new Toledo City Manager, who confessed he had very little wood-working experience.

That's the challenge that makes this weekend project so much fun. Everyone walks away with a unique creation they can use with pride.

Definitely one of the highlights of Doryman's year.

The show was very intimate this year. Being one of the very first geological locations in the USA to experience the recent total eclipse of the sun, we all expected a deluge of tourists, but the Oregon coast was very quiet, considering the moment. You know I like it that way - quality over quantity is the Doryman way. By now, you've all heard eclipse stories. My only observation - it's very strange to see twilight approach, with the sun in the east.

And, oh yes... in the tiny coastal town of Garibaldi, Oregon, there is an old boathouse at the end of a long finger pier, which once housed a United States Coast Guard Lifeboat station. A local group has formed the Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative, to preserve this historical maritime asset. How cool is that?

As it turns out, these fine folks have many ambitious plans to enliven the structure as an asset for the community, which currently include building five kayaks to be used by visitors and the community at large. Serendipity brought the Garibaldi Cultural Initiative to these pages, and Doryman is privileged to have been asked to mentor the build. To say this is an honor is an understatement. I made a quick stop in Garibaldi to see the site yesterday.
I'm very excited. What a week it's been.

Expect to hear more about the Garibaldi Cultural Initiative and Pier's End in the next couple months.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sucia Island Rendezvous 2017

Just back from the Sucia Island group, in the northern San Juan Islands. This was the sixteenth annual gathering in Fossil Bay on one of the northern most islands in the western contiguous US.
A great time on the water, shared with some very talented sailors, on beautiful small craft.

Photo of Doryman in Saga, by Joe Fernandez

People we meet are often fascinated with the attractive boats all gathered in one spot, but mostly amazed that small boats like ours can be safe and seaworthy. Make no mistake, there are decades, nay centuries, of cumulative experience anchored in the shallow end of the bay this weekend, every year. Stories abound, of trials and daring-do. Places visited and the pleasure (and effort) of getting there and back.

Hot on Joe's tail.
Thanks for the photo, Joe Fernandez.

This year was one for the books. Though the weather was brilliantly sunny and warm, the breezes and tidal currents were fierce. Sailors from all points of the compass had tales of battles with the elements - what one might expect during a full moon with dramatic diurnal tides. In the San Juan Islands, the currents don't always follow intuitively with the tides.

Photo of Kees Prins in Dunlin. by Marty Loken

The prudent mariner will consult current charts, yet expect the unpredictable. In a narrow channel four miles wide, the current may run up to three knots and believe me, if the wind opposes such a flow, the result will challenge even the most experienced, in a small, low-power sailing vessel.

Dale and Chris' Scamp, from Canada, photo by Marty Loken.

This year, Doryman sailed his well-founded 18' faering Valgerda, designed by John Atkin. This open design was fashioned after the Viking faerings of old and for it's size is an exceptional sea boat. The first challenge came within moments of departure. Crossing the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Port Townsend to the Islands always has something new to offer. A glassy sea twenty nautical miles across can turn fierce within minutes.

 Soon after departure, rounding Wilson Point into the commercial shipping lane, one of the all-too-frequent container ships showed up on the horizon. These behemoths clock fifteen knots or more, of speed, and are just plain scary. A breeze had just come up from the west, which opposing the tidal current created an instant boil. After the ship had passed, at close quarters, I swear it's wake kicked the wave action to a frenzy. Soon we were engulfed in standing waves well over our heads, with breaking tops and spumes of spray flying.

Kleppers and folding boats at play in the Bay.

Worthy Saga rode the maelstrom with dedication. For the next two challenging hours, only one small wave found it's way over the coaming, but unfortunately most of three gallons of seawater shot straight up and landed directly in Doryman's lap.

Photo of Bob Miller at the helm of his Drascome Longboat, Sally Forth. by Marty Loken.

Fortunately the day was warm, though, as many of you know - saltwater is very slow to dry. Despite being uncomfortably wet for awhile, the rest of the day was glorious, running north in Rosario Strait with a strong flood tide current running in our direction and a breeze on the beam.

Joe Fernandez brought his popular Cape Dory 22, Philly Girl, all the way from Texas.
Marty Loken photo.

Many mariners in attendance at Sucia had similar tales to tell. Great weather, yet challenging conditions, sometimes in your favor, others not so much. Welcome to small boat cruising in one of the premiere inland waters of the world.

Full moon over Kirk Gresham's Flicka, Koan

Even a long weekend, in such august company, is never enough. Many thanks to all my good friends, old and new, for a memorable time in such a beautiful spot. Already looking forward to next year - this gathering gets continually better and better, like fine whiskey in a barrel.

Joel Bergen's Navigator, Ellie drying out on the beach.

 Martin Schneider's Allegra 24, Clover.

 Paul Miller's Friendship.
Photo by Marty Loken.

One of my favorites. Janet and Bruce Ward's Clarity.
A Montgomery 23, from the British Canadian interior.

 Jamie Orr's new (old) Atkin schooner, Orkney Lass.

There's more, much more...
For the diehard, more photos can be found on Doryman's Flickr site.  Some photos courtesy of Marty Loken. Thank you, Marty!

And yet more photos, courtesy of Dale Simonson, the first Scamp to join us in Fossil Bay. Thank you, Dale, it was a pleasure to meet you.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Gone Sailing

Doryman is heading out.

It's time for the annual Sucia Island Rendezvous, in the Sucia Island group in the San Juan Islands, US. I expect to be seeing many of you there. Looking forward to it, the weather is superlative.

This year, the very worthy Atkin Valgerda faering, Saga is the vessel of choice. It's been a few years since the last cruise in this very seaworthy open boat. She's a strong little cruiser, perhaps more so than her skipper.

Salish Sea, here we come.......

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse 2017, August 21st

On August 21st, 2017, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses the United States of America. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in the northern Pacific Ocean and crosses the USA from west to east through parts of the following states: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina (note: only a tiny corner of Montana and Iowa are in the eclipse path). The Moon's penumbral shadow produces a partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering most of North America.

More information can be found on these NASA websites:

Preliminary information about the 2017 total eclipse of the Sun.
Eclipse Bulletins
Eclipse map/figure/table/predictions courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, from

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wharram Designs; Tiki 21

Look what followed me home!

 Until today, there has not been much discussion here about my fascination with multi-hull sailboats. But consider yourselves warned - there will be more, anon.

This is a Wharram Tiki 21 coastal cruiser. It's been through a few owners, though I'm sorry to not be able to provide much in the way of provenance. I acquired her from Eric, in Bellingham, WA. When Eric picked up this boat, it was a bare hull(s) neglected and randomly damaged. From what I could see of Eric's boatyard, he is a prolific builder and turns out some very nice work, in a small makeshift shop. Just my kind!
Even before I looked at the Tiki 21, I was distracted by other projects I'd be proud to own. Proof positive there are Others out there... (the rest of you know who I'm talking about).
Eric had a Hobie sitting around, which proved to be a good fit for scavenging a new rig for the Tiki. He says this full battened main and jib are very close in size to the designed rig for the Wharram Coastal Trek and worked wonderfully for cruising the Salish Sea and San Juan Islands.

Back in the early 1980's, when this design was developed, a couple boat building friends of mine became obsessed with multi-hulls and their enthusiasm was infectious. Interestingly, there is little crossover between mono-hull and multi-hull sailors. In fact, one set seems happy sailing at what amounts to a brisk walk, while the other is dedicated to speed.

There-in lies the prospect for me. In Pacific Northwest (Salish Sea) sailing, the summer months often find us mono-hull sailors lying adrift, at the whimsy of tidal currents. Please don't get me wrong, I love a leisurely afternoon drift as well as anyone. But when a lightweight catamaran or tri glides past me while I'm stalled, in irons, I have a deep yearning to be such a gossamer.

When I saw Eric's Tiki 21 up for sale, it reminded me that I've dreamed of building this very boat for a long time. He has done a nice job of putting this package together and saved me the time and expense of doing so. I am very grateful - thank you, Eric! There are a few details I want to address (doesn't every sailor modify their vessel to suit themselves?), so she might not make it to the water this year. Rest assured, I'll keep you posted about progress. The first is to modify the trailer so I can assemble the hulls directly. Eric unloaded the hulls and assembled the boat on the tarmac. Obviously he has more strength and dexterity than I.

As a coda, I'd like you to join me in admiring how the charming sweep of shear on the Tiki 21 compliments that of the mother ship, Mistral. No wonder Doryman finds her so appealing.

 The following description is from the James Wharram Designs page:

"The Tiki 21 was designed in 1981 as an easy to build Coastal Trek catamaran, using the [then] new epoxy/glass stitch & glue techniques. In 1982 the new and then quite radical Tiki 21 was given first prize by Cruising World magazine (USA) in their design competition for a ‘Trailable Gunkholer’. Since then, 925 Tiki 21 Plans have been sold (as of June 2010)."

"In 1991-97 Rory McDougall sailed his self-built Tiki 21 Cooking Fat around the world, sometimes alone, sometimes with a companion. She was the smallest catamaran to have circumnavigated. In 2010 Rory entered Cooking Fat in the Jester Challenge (single handed 'race' across the Atlantic for small boats - under 30ft) and came into Newport, Rhode Island a close second after 34 days."

"The Tiki 21 has stayed popular as a simple, easy to trailer Coastal Trekker all over the world."

If you have questions (as I have) about the overall performance of the Tiki 21 catamaran, here is a synopsis of the coastal cruising log for Little Cat: (link provided for a very interesting blog, recommended highly.)

Sail Log for Wharram Tiki 21 Little Cat
Data since 9/2011
Total distance: 3921 nautical miles
Fastest indicated speed: 16.4 knots
Fastest corrected speed: 14.9 knots
Fastest corrected average speed over 500 meters: 13.5 knots
Fastest corrected average speed over one nautical mile: 12.6 knots
Fastest corrected average speed over one hour: 10.2 knots
Fastest corrected average speed over a sailing trip:
- 8.6 knots/17.3 nautical miles (reaching from Martinez Bridge to Montezuma Slough)
- 8.4 knots/11.2 nautical miles (reach from Seal Rocks to Pt San Pedro)
- 7.8 knots/15.9 nautical miles (beat/close reach from Burlingame/SFO to Sausalito, with the tide)
- 6.5 knots/9 nautical miles (spinnaker run from Peninsula Pt to Marin Islands)
- 6.5 knots/25 nautical miles (close reach from Mile Rock to Half Moon Bay)

Some photos of the Tiki 21, from around the world. Thanks to all who own and love these dynamic craft. I hope to be joining some of you soon: