I’d been at a full gallop for a few years now, building boats, rowing boats, teaching boats, traveling to see more boats, and a zillion other things. I’ve been forgetting one important thing: taking a break. Then I broke. I went down pretty hard in mid-August and crept home with my tail between my legs whimpering. A month of rest and rebuilding has me back on my feet, though not quite ready to re-enter the fray. Another month should see me back in action, although maybe not quite at such a frenetic pace. Build Back Better. And hopefully a little wiser.
Anyhow, I thought I’d try and catch up on the whereabouts, howabouts, and whatabouts of some of our many boat babies out there in the world. I’ll start with a few shots by my friend Dawn Kish. This first one exemplifies the approach to the world that I’m hoping to modify slightly. This is Grand Canyon, our replica of Bert Loper’s final boat, on a trip a couple autumns ago. I flipped her and bashed her up a bit in Lava Falls two days later. She’s home resting now and with any luck is destined to the Powell Museum in Green River, Utah. I can’t think of a more fitting place.
Here is Moe, our replica of Norm Nevills’s 1938 WEN. Dawn Kish has been running her lately up on Lake Puddle as the reservoir slowly dies and re-exposes Glen Canyon. She’s doing a project up there with the late great Tad Nichols’s camera. Check out her exhibition and show at Cline Library Monday, October 3 at 6 PM. She’ll be showing her film there too: Tad’s Emerging World—Glen Canyon Exposed. Help fund it here. And sign up for its finished full premiere at Banff here.
Fretwater built a series of four 1/6 scale replicas of historic Grand Canyon boats for the Glen Canyon Conservancy in Page, Arizona. They hope to open their display next spring. But until then, here are some wonderful images Dawn created up in Glen Canyon. This is Kitty Clyde’s Sister, an 1869 Powell Whitehall:
Next is a replica of Julius Stone’s 1909 Galloway boat.
And Norm Nevill’s 1938 Mexican Hat.
And lastly, Jerry Briggs’s classic 1971 Emerald Mile, the prototype for the iconic Grand Canyon Dory. And a nearby giant. Look out, dam!
Thanks, Dawn, for the amazing photographs. No Barbies were injured during this project.
We made a couple other scale models of the Briggs boat– Glen Canyon lives with Steve out in California:
And Chattahoochee–the original form of my beloved Cataract–wakes me up each morning at the foot of my bed.
Let’s go on to some slightly larger vessels. Here are two birdbath boats we built. They have since divorced. The closer boat ran off to RJ’s in Nevada with another boat. The far vessel now lives in Dawn’s garden.
We built seven bookshelves. Here are three. This one is mine:
Cricket’s lives downstairs:
And Bright Side graces the showroom window at Bright Side Booksthop in downtown Flagstaff.
The next size up is our Doryak, which is now being built by several folks around the West. Peekaboo was our prototype, and has been totally adopted by Cricket. Here she is on the San Juan this spring:
And a fabulous Dawn Kish photo of Cricket running the right side of Lava Falls. Standing up for god’s sake.
Next we built Doryak 2.0, Spooky, which is the model now being built. Here she is with Dawn on East Clear Creek. Heather is behind her on one of the paddleboards we built.
Dawn’s shot of me dropping the left side of Lava—not nearly as sexy as Cricket.
Nancy in Martini on the San Juan:
Ed stopped in last week fresh off Grand Canyon with Nigigoons, having made it through right-side up and unscathed. Ed is one of our star clients, having run Nigigoons on the New, Cheat, Ottowa, and Lower Gauley. He’s a maniac.
Here’s Dan with Tyee, somewhere in Oregon:
Glade on the maiden voyage of Rocket Man on the Verde River:
Dawn in her Jaguar in lower Grand Canyon:
Marcus on the French Broad in Chatooga:
The two boats we built in this year’s WoodenBoat School class are getting out on the water. Here we are doing flip drills in Splash:
Splash on the Kennebec (I think):
Giggle on the Cow Pasture River:
Here is Greta. Her hull came together here at Fretwater before Andy Hutchinson took her up to his High Desert Dories shop and finished her off. Andy’s got three he’s completing right now. Greta was fresh off the Yampa River in this shot:
RJ rocking out in Li’l Surprise on the Owyhee this spring.
In the foreground of that last shot is the bow of Rock Lobster, one of our 10’6″ Tandoris. Here she is on the Owyhee
Brin has Tandori #1, Vaquita. Here we are on the San Juan:
We went up one more size this spring, redesigning the Chub, which Mike DeHoff of Eddyline Welding and I collaborated on a while back. The new design is the 13’6″ Double Chubble. Here’s Tess with a couple friends in Chinook:
Here is VK’s Duwamps on an unexpectedly inclement morning on the San Juan.
One of our early lapstrake boats was Ruby, which we built back in Maine–Lora Colten, Andy Hutchinson, Kate Thompson, Mike Bridges, myself, and a host of others. Lora caretakes her on Friendship Long Island. Here she be at 13 years old. What a lovely boat:
Here are a couple more of our lapstrake boats–Swampscott dories by the names of Bernie and Stella. They got out last month for a Tiny Boat Concert as part of Colorado River Days. Rock Lobster is in the background.
Our other two replica lapstrake boats–Edith being a replica of Emery Kolb’s 1911 Galloway boat, and Julius, being a replica of Buzz Holmstrom’s revolutionary 1937 modified Galloway–got to strut their stuff at last fall’s Colorado River Basin History Symposium. I was in charge of assembling the most complete array ever of historic hulls of the Colorado. Click on the link above for access to the proceedings, and Video File #2 for my talk on the subject. Here are Julius and Edith:
And here is the colorful line-up of later hulls. It was amazing to see them all side-by-each and see the progression and sudden jumps in boat design.
Nico built Odonata–a Double-ended Hindman McKenzie–and brought her in to Fretwater for help finishing her decking and glassing. Here they are on Odo’s maiden voyage in Desolation Canyon a week or so ago.
Tim built Eilean after taking a few courses here at Fretwater. Then, like Nico, Tim brought her back in for decking and glass work. Here is Tim with Susan, Eilean’s heiress, on the Green River.
Kelly built Seedskedee–a McKenzie with bow and stern hatches–with us a few years ago. She rows her relentlessly all over the West. She makes us proud. I think this is on the San Juan.
And here are a couple of our McKenzies from WoodenBoat School classes. Glen has Brother’s Keeper out in Colorado.
And August has Acadian Driftwood up in Montana, outfitted for its designed purpose–fishing:
Boxcar, the Nevills San Juan Punt we built a few years back, has come into her own with Cody Little of Tse Kooh Outfitters on the San Juan. Boxcar had a full season and Cody has a pile of lumber big enough to make several more. To hell with rafts. Drop back and punt!
Arroyo Lippman built Brown Betty here a few years ago–a replica of Betty Boop (which we restored earlier). Now that he’s retired from the fire department he works with us in the shop and has a bit more time to boat. Here he is on the San Juan with a flock of Fretwaterlings.
The classic Briggs boats are seeing plenty of action too. Here is my precious Cataract celebrating her 50th Birthday Bash in Grand Canyon. She’s all repaired and has been back out again.
Skagit, who I rowed from her birth in 1981 through 1987, has been with Kate Thompson for several years. Skagit has spent time here at Fretwater recovering from a few adventures. Here she is at haul-out at the ridiculous North Wash take out after last month’s Cataract trip.
Ouzel is another original Briggs we restored. Here she is with Josh and family up on the Yellowstone.
Glen Canyon is an open Briggs we built a while back. Here she is heading to Montana with Wiley. She gets in a fair amount of hunting and fishing up on the Yellowstone.
Here is Rio Rojo, breathing a sight of relief on upper Lake Mead after Monte’s successful run of Grand Canyon last year. Rio Rojo was our first idealized Briggs.
Chet helped build Dzil Joo Ba II here a couple years ago. He’s warming up now for a Grand Canyon run next spring.
Suertuda and South Fork were twins in a Fretwater class here a few years ago. They were both in Grand Canyon, a day or so apart, last month. Pat, the former third leg of the Fretwater tripod, was in his South Fork.
And Arroyo, part of our current quadpod, was rowing Suertuda
Diamond Desert is our entry into the recreational/commercial boat of the future–shorter, wider, way more maneuverable, and oh-so-commodious. Brin has rowed her pretty much non-stop since we built her, in some really sick low flows. DD is quite a lady. Here she is in Tower Park last month.
We made four oversized Briggs boats a couple years ago. Three of them are currently running with Canyon Explorations. Here’s Cricket in the prototype, Bears Ears, a couple weeks ago. It was kinda rainy!
The fourth boat of this design is in private hands. Here’s a fuzzy shot of Mike dropping into Lava Falls in Wild Child. Yee haw!
I’ll finish up for now with Bob, the Big Ol’ Briggs we built for Big Ol’ Bruce a few year ago. Here she is last month going out with Big Ol’ Brian.
Well, that’s a little over half of our babies. I’m reaching out for pictures of many more. But it’s sure heartwarming to see so many of them out there on the rivers, bobbing along, bringing a bit more joy and beauty into the world. I think we’ll keep building them.