Once again months have sped by while I sit idle, not blogging. Well, actually, not entirely idle. I am finally catching my breath after a multi-month sprint. Let’s see–it was February last time I checked in. We had to pause and celebrate our patron saint’s birthday.

But I did my arithmetic wrong. Had to turn the last candle upside down to correct it.

Arroyo and Deanna finished their Doryaks, Ripple and Colibri, and loaded them up for a quick San Juan adventure, shuttle vehicle piled on top.

We finished our wee new invention. Although we initially planned to call the hull design a Doryto, we reconsidered and went with Tardigrade. The first one’s name is Water Bear.

Cricket, Glade and I headed down to the Verde for a day trip. Two trips, actually. On our second lap the flow had doubled.

Cricket rowed Water Bear while Glade and I ran our Doryaks. When Glade and I tried Water Bear we decided we were a bit too tall and top-heavy for a boat of that stature. Cricket got a pretty good laugh watching us lurch around. At 6’7″ Water Bear is really a small person’s boat.

Back in Flagstaff it snowed. And it snowed. And it snowed.

I decided to multi-task and build a sculpture with the snowblower while I cleared the driveway day after day. We called it Mount Fretwater.

The view out the north shop window.

For the next month or so we worked on the two Chubs we started in February. Double Chubble again.

Glade invented stilts for a tall glassing job.

Undercover agents.

Sometimes quitting time just sneaks up on us.

A photo for one of our favorite sponsors, George Kirby, purveyor of fine marine paint for 175 years.

A clamp storm as we lay up the gunwales.

Glade working hard.

Getting ready to assemble hatch lids. You gotta have at least twenty beers for a 5-hatch boat.

A favorite and critical step. We always add a bit of extra side-panel to the boats to give us a little wiggle room. Then we clamp a gunwale on at the designed sheer line and stare at it. Maybe have a beer. And stare some more. Move it up a snitch here, down a snad there, until we all agree it is utterly perfect. Then we take it back inside, duplicate the curve on the other side, and cut the sheer. It makes an incredible difference. A gunwale that’s an eighth of an inch off really looks–just wrong. We are striving for what Peter Spectre called, “The heart stopping elegance of a perfect sheer.”

With the gunwales on, it’s party time. Paint ’em!

Being impatient sorts, we have come up with a rather appalling system. We tape the bottom line of each stripe, then paint them from the top down, one after another, without pausing to let the previous stripe dry, free-handing the top edge with a Chinese chip brush. We keep proving to ourselves that we can’t have nice brushes.

All the exterior paint on both boats went on in one afternoon/evening.

This next photo makes me so happy I get a little teary. I love these ladies so much. We are all so lucky.

Cricket’s lettering skills are absolutely mad.

And….. DONE!

Our friend Will convinced us last year that the tabs on beer cans are a very special high grade of aluminum and we should save them. We did. When Will got a sweet job on an Alaskan boat, we decided to try and make a bon voyage gift out of our bucket of beer tabs. I had a bronze marlinspike that I cast in Bronzecasting class years ago, and we figured that was pretty nautical, so we tried to cast it. By god it worked! Imperfections and all.

I think we made him tear up. Turns out he’s one of the only sailors he knows who actually still carries and uses such an archaic tool.

Our habit of saving the handles of all our chip brushes has gotten a little out of hand. When we finish painting for the day, we can’t let the wet brushes go to waste. So we paint fish. And glue them to the window.

But a lot of the time there aren’t enough fish around to use up the wet paint, so the doors have become the next target. You can’t beat this place for fun.

Poor Daisy wandered in last fall and got addicted. She’s in the shop whenever she can be. Here she is learning to cast bronze.

She got her first car and decided to paint it in company colors. Rad!

Time for another boating adventure. Since we were heading to Utah we decided to take the Bert Loper boat up to Green River to donate her to the river museum.

There’s no more appropriate place for Bert’s boat.

We launched the next day on the lower San Juan. Seven people, seven boats, six of which came out of our boatshop, and the other a product of last fall’s class at Lowell’s Boat Shop in Massachusetts. It’s really fun to be surrounded by our creations.

Emily took Water Bear out for a spin at Ross Rapid. A wave just about filled her, and a quick back stroke to avoid a big rock had the effect of dropping the stern and sinking the boat completely. Here’s a fuzzy shot of Cricket rescuing her in Peekaboo.

Emily wanted vindication, so the next morning she and Cricket dragged Water Bear back up for a successful run.

A morning respite.

Grand Gulch was spewing.

Back home we didn’t have too much time before we were off to Lee’s Ferry for the Guide Training Trip. What better way to train than in historic boats. We brought the fleet: Arroyo rowed Edith, the 1911 Kolb replica, Glade rowed Julius, the 1938 Holmstrom replica, and Sam switched off at Phantom with Bryan rowing Moe, the 1938 Nevills replica. I rowed my trusty old 1972 Briggs boat, Cataract. Cricket had planned to row Julius, but had an appendectomy instead the day before rigging. But damn if she didn’t come along anyhow. Miracles of modern medicine. And instead of rowing Julius she learned to be a motor boatman. In fact, she heads out tomorrow as a motor boatman!

Each morning Bennett would tell us of Hualapai tradition and sing us the old songs. It was magical and moving.

The wind tried to kill us the first couple days but finally gave up.

Cataract got to meet some new drivers

We learned a lot.

Although the spring bloom was late in coming–not much on the upper half, the Newberry Yuccas gave us quite a show on the lower.

Here’s a Mortonia bush in bloom, also known as a Sandpaper bush.

Checking out the bottom side of a lava flow.

More lessons.

But all things come to an end. Grand Canyon slides away into the silt banks of upper Lake Mead.

And Cricket and I returned to Flagstaff for a whole day before heading north on our next adventure.