Now that I have turned seventy and retired from commercial guiding I can sit back and relax. If only I knew how. I went on a road trip to retrieve various things. In Moab I picked up all the heavy iron objects that Anabelle graciously drove back from Maine for us. In Green River I checked in at the Powell Museum regarding the River Runner’s Hall of Fame in September that I was scheduled to be a part of, inducting my old boss and friend Martin Litton. Then on to Torrey to visit my dear old friend Tim Cooper.. and finally down to Hurricane, Utah where we all worked for Martin Litton long ago in a lifetime far, far away. The main warehouse was sold several years ago, but the back forty–affectionately named the Ghetto–remained in Rudi Petschek’s possession. He has finally decided to sell it and suggested I come up and raid the treasure trove of memorabilia inside.The trees on the left in this photo once housed a variety of ragtag campers and trailers belonging to boatmen.

I made a solo run from Lee’s Ferry up to Glen Canyon Dam to do a bit of vigilante work on the invasive Russian Olive–the tree that has totally devoured much of the San Juan.

Russian Olive warfare is not for the faint of heart. They grow thick with deathly sharp spines everywhere. Just cutting your way in to the trunk may take half an hour or more, during which you are slowly bleeding to death. There are a couple more nests of them awaiting the next assault.

Eric Kruse, a local artisan, did a show of local folks, and I got to be one of them. He took Catherine Zuzii Ryan’s photo of me and made a wooden portrait.

At home the sunrises from my coffee chair are their own art show, especially during monsoon season.

But no rest for the wicked–it was back to the East for a summer jaunt to the Maritimes. I flew into Maine and headed northeast to Nova Scotia. My rental car was perfect for camping in so I lodged most nights in the lovely Provincial Parks. This is the view from my camp in Shelburne, with the Dory Shop in the center.

I dropped in to see how Milford was getting along in his final season and was happy to see Ann Poirier was stepping in to learn the trade for future summers. He was about halfway through his final boat–the one we built with him in the spring lies to the left. Our story of the building of that boat is still in the process of editing, so we of the Dory Heritage Project beg the patience of those who contributed–the book shall appear one day. Ann says, “Hurry! I’m going to need it!”

From there I crossed Nova Scotia and caught the ferry to Newfoundland. I am glad we don’t build boats big enough to put semis on the upper deck.

Sunset at another Provincial Park.

I went out to the Bay of Islands on the western end of Newfoundland and found out how big boats are created. Here are two infants still riding on their mamas’ backs.

There is a unique dory tradition here–wide transoms for motoring, and orange hulls. Quite striking.

Then I was off to France–well, St. Pierre, which is a French territory–to visit my friends, Les Zigotos, and their beautiful giant dories. If you look closely in the next shot you can see anticrepuscular rays converging on the horizon as the sun sets behind me.

The wooden capstans are used to pull the dories up the ramps.

Each boat has its own ramp and capstan.

Jean-Luis is cooking fresh dory-caught halibut. Yum.

Gerard, the head Zigoto, hopes to host an international boatbuilding event in the near future. I’ll be there if it happens–but they told me I need to learn French.

Then it was back to Newfoundland to the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador to spend a week building a dory with their  boatbuilder, Jerome Canning.

Jerome is cutting the slot for a spline in the stem. Don’t try this at home.


I was surprised at how relaxed Jerome was as the days ticked by and still we had not started planking.

A short walk from my bed and breakfast led to a trail along the coast.

I eventually noticed I was surrounded by blueberries.


Blueberries and a family of four young foxes.

As the week drew to a close, we began planking.

About eight hours later it was a boat. Bam!

I left Saturday afternoon, caught the night ferry, and drove ten hours back across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to catch my next classes at WoodenBoat School beginning Sunday evening. I spent the first week in despair and frustration trying to learn Rhino–a powerful computer program used by nearly all modern boat designers. Fortunately Clint Chase is a very patient teacher. Here is the Chub–a boat we have been building for a couple years–created in 3D on my laptop. Once you’ve built the virtual boat it’s quite fun to tumble it about.

My goal was to be able to punch in the coordinates of boats we design on the lofting table and create the side panel patterns needed to build the boat efficiently. By week’s end I could do just that. This is the side panel for Martin Litton’s first dory, Portola, later renamed Diablo Canyon. Cricket and I will be teaching this boat next spring at the McKenzie River Discovery Center in Oregon–click here for more on that: Building the Diablo Canyon –the class is half full already so check it out now if you’re interested.

We only had a few evenings of weather nice enough to go boating, but my friend Elizabeth and I got to go row around all the tall ships on the evening the Windjammer Sail-in arrived.


I spent the next week in therapy, recovering from the computer madness. This course was in Woodcarving, with master carver Reed Hayden. We started with scallop shells.

We got to gold-leaf our best one.

This was my big project for the week. We all made signs for the front porch. Mine is a Doryak.

Here’s Reed multitasking–routing a sign border while eating an apple.

Rather than practice random letters, I chose to practice whole words.

The vacation came to a close with a few good sunsets. Then it was time to head home to Arizona. But not for long. I just keep forgetting to slow down. I wonder if there’s a class I could take to learn how?