I’ve been seriously on the move for the last few months, but finally have a few days’ respite to catch up. Two days in pretty much a coma in my La-Z-Boy seemed about right. So: where was I?

Cape Cod, that’s right. I stayed for a few nights with new best friends (a mutual friend suggested we meet), Laurie Raymond and Rusty Strange in Falmouth. Serious boat folk, they. Laurie has a Friendship sloop in the harbor, and Rusty has a Chinese junk that he lived on for three or four decades until just recently. So we had a few things in common to talk about. Here is a lousy shot of Rusty’s junk amid all the “normal” boats.

In the daytime I took off wandering. A few highlights: The old Crosby boatshop in Osterville, home of the Cat Boats. Here’s one that’s not doing too well.

Paul Moscaritolo, a man after my own heart, who has pretty much re-invented boatbuilding as he sees fit. His twin-rudder, shallow draft sailboat is built with 2″ thick strips of common framing lumber, glued together with PL construction adhesive. He did a few years’ experimenting with the technique, and the boat has been floating for eight summers, so I guess it works just fine.

Bill Womack, proprietor of Beetle Cat. They’ve been making the same boat for about one hundred years. They make less than a dozen a year, but have about two hundred of them that come back each fall for overhaul and winter storage. A cool business model. The materials and workmanship are exquisite.

Here’s the new mold that they’ve been using since 1946. The old one wore out.

On to New Bedford, whaling epicenter of yore, where George Kirby is still making awesome marine paint the same way his great-granddad did. It’s marvelous stuff–just about the only paint I use at Fretwater Boatworks. George III just retired, so George IV has spiffed the place up a bit.

I got the full nickel tour. This here’s the hundred-year-old pigment grinder. George’s paint has more pigment than any other I have used–it covers!.

And here’s the paint mixer

And here are George and his brother-in-law Bill showing me my very own Rolodex card with the formula for my very own color, Tequila Beach.

I made the trip out to the end of the Cape to see the sights and stopped in at Walter Baron’s Old Wharf Dory Shop. He is under the boat. Not so amazingly, we had a lot of mutual friends and plenty to jaw about.

And once again, I felt right at home. Girly pictures and boat ephemera on the walls, beer bottles on the floor.

And out to Martha’s Vineyard to see the Benjamin & Gannon shop. It’s center-field in this shot from the ferry boat.

Boats all over the place.

I met Nat Benjamin, fresh in from sailing his family to Cuba and back in the Charlotte. Here he is propping her up for a bit of maintenance.

They treat their tools as reverently as I treat mine.

I had almost as much fun as Oona did.

Since I was in the neighborhood I took the high-speed ferry out to Nantucket to see if the man who was once from there was still around. Didn’t see him.

Holy crap this thing goes fast. It kind of skitters about on the surface, which is a bit unnerving.

I rented a fancy-ass mountain bike and pedaled off to the east end of the island. It being the first time on a bike since before knee surgery, I was pretty excited and went way too far before realizing I had gone way too far. It was a painful trip back to the youth hostel, but a fine sunset on the south shore. I recalled one of my mom’s favorite sayings: “Oh my achin’ ass.”

Time to head north: I detoured through the town of Swampscott, just north of Boston, home of the famous and gorgeous Swampscott dories. None there. And I’m not in the club.

But you can see why they’d want a flat-bottomed boat.

Next stop Essex, to tour the Shipbuilding Museum. Lots of nice exhibits and strange old boats.

A novel paint scheme for a dory. In the background is Harold Burnam’s shop, but he was not there. I met him last year in his ship Ardelle in Gloucester.

And a quick stop at the Lowell Boat Shop, alleged birthplace of the Banks Dory. But they close at four.

On northward to the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I booked a sunset cruise on the gundalow. I had read about a boat called a gundalow on the Shenandoah River, which was very similar to the sweep scows of Idaho–one of which I recreated for a hairball replica run of Glen and Bessie Hyde’s fatal Grand Canyon run of 1928. I thought I should see if this gundalow was at all related to the Shenandoah version or sweep scows. Nope. Turns out gundalow is an old Yankee corruption of gondola, and refers to all sorts of different boats.

Here on the Piscataqua, it is a huge barge with a gigantic triangular sail that can be dropped for bridges. Historically they would ride the incoming tide as far up the forks of the river as they could go, exchange cargo, and float or sail back to Portsmouth. So all the major towns in the area are at the high-tide mark of the rivers.

This replica is fairly faithful in construction, but in order to take passengers, they were required to add a motor. So we motored out to the ocean and sailed back in. Here we are pulling the sail out from the boom.


But it was finally time to head to Maine to assist Wade with the Fundamentals of Boatbuilding course at WoodenBoat School. But one cannot simply drive by without stopping at Liberty Tool. That might be easier on the wallet, but it would be sinful.