Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dunderdale Pearl, Fleckerl

Whether you've built one boat or many, the day their chrysalides shed is infectiously gay.
Ralph Merriman began his Dunderdale Pearl a handful of years ago, and with a couple health setbacks, finished her yesterday. He asked friends to help move the Pearl, Fleckerl from his patio shop, through the living room of his house to the driveway, where a new trailer waited.

We've followed Ralph's build from the beginning. When asked how many boats he's built, he'll modestly tell you he doesn't quite remember. I know for a fact he's built six skiff type boats and he suggests he's built another six kayaks. Prolific and precise, that's Ralph.

Ralph has already made Fleckerl's masts, rudder and centerboard. The permanent lead ballast is cast. New fully battened sails lay in suspension. Hardware has been dry-fitted.

With the help of at least twelve volunteers, the Tom Dunderdale Pearl, Fleckerl emerges to the light of a wet Fall day into the element of it's design.

Next installment will be a demonstration of Fleckerl's wind and water waltz.

Initial Instructions from doryman on Vimeo.

Test Move from doryman on Vimeo.

On the Trailer in the Rain from doryman on Vimeo.

In case you don't know what a fleckerl is....

To be a devil's advocate, I ran back and took a quick shot of Ralph's empty work space with the intention of catching him with nothing to do.

He headed me off with a photo of the same space the next morning with a strong-back set up for a new kayak.

Go, Ralph!

Congratulations on another fine boat build my friend.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


A quick update on Belle Starr. Since the last post on these pages, a substantial amount of repair has been done in quick succession. Belle is fortunate to have many admirers and I am fortunate to have as many dedicated friends.

Paul showed up for two days to drive a work crew on the installation of two panels, enclosing the starboard side and reforming the chine. Prior to his arrival I had repaired three major bulkheads - the interior furniture that defined the chine. In this boat, plywood bulkheads take the place of frames and there is one every two feet, some of which are cabinets or seats that double as structural members.
The panels were made from two sheets of mahogany plywood scarphed together and ripped lengthwise. The panels were then screwed in place and spiled to the existing hull. Installing an almost sixteen foot "plank" is very satisfying. Two of them fitted together filled most of the huge gap in Belle's hull. Of course there is a lot left to do - smaller holes to be fitted, lots of patching and fairing, but I feel much has been accomplished with the help of neighbors and friends. Belle Starr is no longer a muddy wreck on the beach.

Many thanks to Paul Miller, Heather Hicks, Martin Schnieder and Lynn Watson for their invaluable help.
Belle will float again.

Paul has documented the process on lumberjocks. Photos courtesy of Paul.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Down But Not Out

News travels fast so many of you already know, Belle Starr went on the rocks. That sounds a bit like one of my sly jokes, but it's not.

A winter force gale swept through the Pacific Northwest the last hours of August, leaving thousands of homes without power. Belle Starr rode high and secure through the first heavy gusts but chaffed her solitary anchor line as the storm crested.

Two hours after we'd made a positive visual check on her position from shore, the Coast Guard called and said she was on the beach. At an extreme low tide, that's where I found her, in sand pocked with barnacle encrusted rocks and only a couple boat lengths from a rip-rap jetty.

After watching the tide come back and the surf rise while assessing all options, I called Vessel Assist. In most cases I would much prefer a self-rescue but it was clear I didn't have the resources this time.

Vessel Assist at first told me the seas were too high and they couldn't approach the wreck. We must wait for the wind to die down, possibly another six hours according to predictions. But barely had I digested this news than their boat appeared just 100 yards off shore. They deployed an inflatable and a diver swam a hawser in-shore. With the boat leaping in the surf, the diver lassoed the bow bits and Belle was towed carefully off the beach. I'd been told she was breached, though she made a mighty effort to float, so soon she lowered herself in thirty five feet of water to spend the night on the calm sand below.

The salvage crew told me that while they were working, gusts had been clocked on their boat at 80mph.

Break of dawn the following morning in a calm, flat sea, divers wrapped Belle in a cocoon of air bags until her cabin deck was above water and she was towed to the travel-lift in the boatyard.

She's on her trailer now. My very good friend, the superlative shipwright Paul Miller from Cowichan Bay, BC,  drove south Wednesday to help me cut away the damaged portions of Belle and prep for repairs. He's started a thread on his favorite social media, lumberjocks:

Paul is having way too much fun.

Belle Starr now looks like a cut-away view of herself. There is a very good chance she will be back together and weather tight in a month.

Please stay tuned..........

Friday, August 21, 2015

Family Boatbuilding

For the third year running, The Toledo, Oregon, Wooden Boat Show hosted a kayak build for it's family boatbuilding event. I was there to mentor the builders and what a great group we had. None of the participants had ever built a boat before, though they must have had transferable skills because all of the kayaks turned out very nice.

This design by Leo Newberg is simple yet elegant. We do not provide kits for this build so the entrants learn basic skills such as spiling off a mold and fairing a plank. The lofting and building jig are done before-hand so the builders can start early Friday before the show. We constructed four kayaks this year, down from the overwhelming six we turned out last year. This allowed Gus Loomis, Rick Johnson and me to provide more in depth instruction to a very receptive group.

In a video interview with the local high school, I was asked why I'm involved with this volunteer effort. Over the past forty years as a boat builder, I have had the good fortune to learn from some truly amazing artists, a process that continues to this day. I think of an opportunity such as this as a chance to give back to the community of builders and designers that have given me so much.

Perhaps some of the participants will take away a new passion along with fresh skills.

Rick and Gus are exemplary boat builders who share my love of building. It's a joy to work with two such talented artisans. Thanks to them and the Port of Toledo for inviting me to participate in this event.

Next to us was a group of kids along with their parents building Phil Bolger's Elegant Punt, from Dynamite Payson's book, Instant Boats. I've often admired the simple utility of these tenders.

Waiting for the first launch.

A neighboring paper mill produces waterproof packing cardboard and sponsors a design/build contest and race. My favorite was an entry from local ribs and burgers restaurant, Pig Feathers.

Pig Boat swims!
Photo by Ralph Grutzmacher.

My good friend Darrell touts himself as a ship's carver. This year I bought a carving of a seahorse to add to my collection from this eclectic artist.

Next, I'd like to own this beautiful rendition of a sea turtle. Darrell has studied with Northwest First Nation carvers for inspiration in his work. Saving up my pennies for this one!

More photos of this event can be found at Andy Linn's Toledo Community Boathouse.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Spirit Scow

Do you remember the scow built with hand tools of antiquity by the Crystal River Boat Builders? The USS WARTAPPO was used by the East Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron along the Crystal River shore of Florida during the US Civil War.

Dave Lucas and Bill Whalen sent us an update to this story along with a video. The soundtrack is a song written for the scow by a band calling themselves "7 lbs of Bacon". Even if you're not impressed by sea chanties, you'll have to admit this big scow (36 feet) moves along nicely.

The CRBB have named their scow Spirit and that's what the song is about. Be sure to follow the link above for the back-story.

Happy sailing, SV Spirit!  Thanks to Dave, Bill and the Crystal River Boat Builders for the photos and video.
And thanks to 7 lbs of Bacon. Too much fun!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Belewe Moon, the Betrayer

Tonight's full moon is the second full moon of July, and whenever two full moons occur in the same month, the second one is considered "blue." The event is pretty rare; there are 29.53 days between each full moon, and only 365.24 days in the year. That means there are 12.37 full moons each year. That extra .37 adds up over time, so every two to three years, you get 13 full moons in one year. The last blue moon happened in August 2012, and the next one won't happen until January 2018.

Aye, but when I think of a Blue Moon, it looks like this:

Catherine MacMillan's graceful Katie & Ginny 
 Thomas Gillmer gaff cutter, Blue Moon

Thursday, July 30, 2015

By Their Ropes Ye Shall Know the Measure of the Sailor

As an on-going project here on DoryMan, I've tried to mitigate some of the confusion about nautical terms with the glossary found at the top of the sidebar to your right - spent much of today filling in new entries. In fact, until I'm dazed and confused myself. If you find any mistakes, let me know.

How often have I seen that glazed look on the face of a passenger or crew, the blank stare of one who hasn't understood a single word uttered? In mutual desperation, I have even found myself lately referring to the right or left side of the boat and "that green rope near your right hand". (incidentally, Belle Starr has color-coordinated lines to facilitate communication. I'm trying, really am.)

Like I said, this is a project with no end. Every new entry begs another. Not one definition is self-explanatory. A lexicographer must be a very special species indeed. Please, if you have something you'd like to contribute, don't hesitate. For now we'll stick to English, though nautical language the world over is a beautiful flower, music of the sea.

Your friend, Michael
mbogoger (at) gmail

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sucia Island Rendezvous, 2015

July 10-13 was yet another great gathering of small gunkholing boats in Fossil Bay, Sucia Island, one of the wonderful Washington State marine parks in the San Juan Islands. It's hard to beat the camaraderie of good friends in a beautiful spot aboard some of the most seaworthy small vessels around.

This year there were nine boats carrying eleven sailors. A small but tenacious group, all with credentials as able seamen and women.

Jamie came from Victoria BC in his Phil Bolger Chebacco, Wayward Lass, fresh from the R2AK, where he made it to Johnstone Strait before succumbing to intense headwinds.
This is the view we usually have of Jamie.

Bob sailed Sally Forth, his beloved Drascome Longboat. It's easy to see why he loves this boat so much. He uses a very well designed cockpit tent for sleeping aboard. Additional photos can be found on the Doryman Flickr site.

Paul navigated from Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, in his Jay Benford Friendship. He recently upgraded his rigging by moving the headstay to the masthead and installing a roller furling genoa. Sadly the winds were very light, so he couldn't show us how pleased he is with his new wings.

Claire and John came from Whidbey Island in their new Night Bird. A lot of boat in a compact package. Please note the pop-top deck.

Joel and his son Tim winged from Edmonds in their John Welsford Navigator, Ellie. Navigator Joel employs a tidy clothesline anchoring system to keep Ellie close to camp.

Randy arrived in his new Belhaven 19, Clementine. I sailed with Randy in our annual "race" around Sucia. The winds and currents are fickle around this island of many faces and we have yet to complete a single race, in many years of trying. This year may have been the shortest race of all.

Joe trailered from Texas with his wood runabout. He didn't know he came to see us, it was serendipity. I met Joe four years ago while cruising around the Canadian Gulf Islands after this same rendezvous. It was good to see him again, he's a sailor's sailor, with a fruitful life and many interesting stories to tell.

Ron motored in with his efficient outboard driven catamaran, Just Enuf, a plywood EcoCat from Bernard Kohler. Ron really gets around with this little cat. You may have seen his distinctive vessel around the Salish Sea.

I sailed the forty five nautical miles from Port Townsend in Belle Starr. That's her in the photo near the top of the post. She always gets me there and back, safely and in style.

A small but fun group. The Sucia Island Rendezvous was lovely as ever, a tradition well worth keeping.