Not wasting any precious time we headed off for our honeymoon. Our flight out of Flagstaff was fine, but the next flight to Philadelphia was delayed interminably. We finally arrived in time to run across the entire airport and watch our flight to Bangor pull away from the gate. Arghh. No more open flights to Bangor for two days. After a night in a grungy hotel we rented a car and drove nine hours to Bangor. We paid a bit extra for a Prius “or similar.” They gave us a hybrid Jeep that the hybrid didn’t work in. I guess you can “compare” that to a Prius. Oh, nevermind.

We grabbed our luggage and our original rental car and got to Brooklin by dark. Next morning we met with Eric at WoodenBoat, added a McKenzie course to our 2024 offerings, then headed to our friends Jane and Bill for the night, with the requisite stops at Liberty Tool, Morse’s Sauerkraut, and Harbor Fish Market for scallops.

The following day we set up our classroom at Lowell’s Boat Shop, the oldest boatshop in the hemisphere and birthplace of the original Banks Dory. Mecca. The locus of our origin myth.

Our house rental was fifteen minutes away, right on the beach. It’s a bit odd joining newlyweds on their honeymoon but hey, we’re family.

Our plan was to build the Rogue River Special–the classic Rogue River drift boat originally designed and built by the late, great Jerry Briggs. It’s still said by many to be the best drift boat ever, but none have been built of wood since the 1970s. This is the design which Jerry later modified to create the still classic Grand Canyon Dory.

We lofted the boat full-size, and expanded drawings of each frame, as well as the transom and stem. Meanwhile we ground bevels in a stack of plywood to glue up the long sheets necessary for the side panels and bottom.

Although it was a full fifteen minute commute, I really enjoyed the sunrises on the beach. Something has shifted in my metabolism as I slid past seventy, and sleep after about 5 or 6 am isn’t really an option anymore. But a nice up of coffee and a sunrise are a pretty good tradeoff.

The evening of day two we assembled all out parts into a hull. We attempted to steam the gunwales and chines, but the gizmo didn’t really get them very hot. Fortunately they were damp enough to bend and clamp into place.

The next morning we jammed in the chine logs, planed her smooth, and affixed the bottom.

When we rolled her up she looked great.

A big part of the reason we teach here is visible in this picture. The late afternoon sun setting over the Merrimack River fills the shop with magic light, filtering through the old multi-pane windows. The palpable heritage of this boatshop is so inspiring, The dory shape and name evolved in and around this shop and tens of thousands of dories were built here. It just seems so… so… right.


Another day, another sunrise.

On with the gunwales.

The classic Rogue River Special would have the stern truncated at an angle to facilitate steering when under motor power–Rogue boats often motored upstream through rapids. This worked well for that purpose, but violated the structural integrity of the boat, with the gunwales no longer connected to the transom. So in as much as we’re not planning to run this boat back up the Rogue River, we are retaining the full integrity of the hull and the beauty of the full sheer line.

In the foreground here is the skillet of a new ocean dory.

Every day that amazing sun comes up. The Greeks spoke of Eos, the rosy-fingered goddess of dawn. She had a rather risqué reputation, but I don’t mind spending mornings with her.

When we first set up shop here last year, Graham, the Executive Director, showed us where all our lumber was, but added we were free to salvage wood from the Merrimack River. We made a point of adding at least a driftwood stick or two into each boat we built here. For this boat Andrew found a nice little log, which we filleted into live-edge transom trim, and a trim cover for the forward edge of the stern seat. A little local magic.

At one o’clock in the afternoon on day six, surprisingly on schedule, we finished the boat and held an ice-pick drop for the winner of the boat. The most vertical ice-pick wins. Clyde, 11 years old, won the boat. So perfect.

A final sunrise, photobombed by a high-speed flight of somethings.

A stop at Harbor Fish Market.

Checking out the old river batteau at the Maine Maritime Museum. These long, radically flared boats were built for herding logs down the northeast rivers, and are thought by some to be ancestral to the ocean dory. There’s definitely a strong family resemblance.

We were staying with Annie and Carob that night, and they treated us to a walk around Gardens Aglow–the Christmas extravaganza of Maine Botanical Gardens, where Carob works.

Then it was back to Brooklin to stash our gear and get up at 3am to catch the flight home. I was excited as I qualified for two first class upgrades on the way. But… we were eight minutes too late to check our bags. Arghhh. We got rerouted out of Portland, which involved a three-hour wait for a rental car desk to open.

And lengthy layovers in DC and Phoenix. Thank heavens for my Admirals Club card. We made it to Flagstaff about ten hours later than planned, but we made it. Waiting for luggage after 24 hours of travel.

I am soooooo happy to be home. Time to rest. For real this time.