I must apologize, for my blogulatory skills have been steadily diminishing. I mean… I mean… I really mean to post regularly, but time just slips away. What can I say?  Anyhow, here’s what we’ve been up to since Thanksgiving.

The big news (for me) is, after more than fifty years on the river in Grand Canyon, I decided not to renew my cherished Wilderness First Responder card this spring. That means I am no longer employable. I’m free! They can’t make me go again!

I’M FREEEEEEE!

In a nod to the three-pronged nautical flagpoles of New England and the Maritimes, we’re now flying a random assortment of banners from hither and yon. They make me happy when they’re fluttering in the morning breeze and I sip my coffee.

We upgraded the shop food room with running water and a massive new set of shelves. The water system needs some attention–the pressure booster instructions say there may be “sundries in the alnico.”

More importantly, I upgraded my little wagon to be our firewood hauler, and named her after my childhood wagon, Go Man Go.

I finished painting my sign from the woodcarving course I took at WoodenBoat School last fall.

In a mad impulse we bought a brandy new 8″ jointer with a helical head. What a sweet thing she is. We also upgraded the 13″ Dewalt planer to a helical head. SOOOOO much quieter and cleaner.

We kicked off the season retrofitting the Salmon to have a low-footwell bilge-pump system–a project that’s not much fun but is increasingly in demand.

My friend Jim came by and we re-shot a portrait we did back at Prescott College 50+ years ago.

The Bristol Bay showed up with a pretty nasty explosion from an upside-down wreck below upset. (I tore my old Briggs boat apart doing that same thing in 1988. Ouch!) We had to replace about 1/4 of the hull. Fortunately the rock hit the inside of the wall going out, or there would have been far more damage.

With the toxicity of the internet these days, Cricket is taking no chances.

Here we are building a Chub for Anabelle. Chubs are only about 13’6″, but they sure seem big in the shop. Our current modus operandi is to build the bulkheads and some of the deck framing right onto the ribs before assembly. It’s not only quicker and easier, but one can do a far better job of it. And when you roll the hull upright it’s almost ready to begin decking.

Cricket and Glade are installing the bilge bracing here. Glade is the human clamp, and Cricket is shooting screws up from beneath.

We celebrated Christmas by installing all the decks. “Deck the Hull…”

She’s pretty pink. Anabelle has had her on the water pretty much nonstop since she left the shop.

A bandsaw-carved hull model gave us an idea for a paint job someday.

We try to get out on the water between trips. Here’s a wee jaunt on the Verde River


Chet wanted a McKenzie, which gave us the opportunity to try out a new set of lines we pulled of “Woodie’s Last Boat” up in Oregon last year. With help from Roger Fletcher double-checking measurements, we came up with a very sweet boat.

We do the inner chine in a very non-traditional way, with fiberglass rather than fragile wood. It seems to save a lot of repair time.

I really love to make the floorboards fan out with the shape of the boat.

Chet requested the paint scheme from Martin Litton’s last dory, the Sequoia.

Here is a remarkable comparison between Juan, my old 2002 McKenzie based on a very early Woodie Hindman boat (left), and the new design based on Woodie’s Last Boat (right). It’s way sexier.

Time for another break, down to the lower Colorado below Hoover Dam.


Two very small women making another very small boat.

This is our Tardigrade model–designed for kids on a pond but it actually works pretty well in whitewater. Emily has taken her decked one through Westwater and plans to run Grand Canyon in it. This one is for Lydia (center) and will be an open boat for mild water. It fits in the back of her Subaru!


Time for another adventure. Cricket and Glade threw a huge party to celebrate their wedding. It was out on Lake Mead and only accessible by boat.

They actually got Cricket’s Grandma off the ranch for this!

Back to the shop to build another Doryak.

Time for a break.

Mick, the proprietor of Snow Mountain River, the local new and used outdoor gear emporium, has completed his move to the new store on 4th & 6th (the old Big Lots). It’s huge! He’s working toward a fun space with activities for younger folks other than their iPhones. We moved four of our historic boats over there for you to check out. It seems like a far better place for the public to see them than our dusty loft. Twist and shout! Check it out!

Mary and Chris brought the old Mille Crag Bend in for new gunwales. She’s an old Briggs boat that got remodeled into a double-ender after a big crash in 1986. Here we are redefining the gunwale line a touch lower, closer to the original line.

But one thing so often leads to another. Since we were restoring the original gunwale line we decided to restore the original transom as well. Chris and Mary had been irritated by all that extra boat behind them when they were making tight cuts along shore or rocks.

Ahhh. We could almost hear the boat sigh–back to being a Briggs.

And a new wall ornament for Fretwater.

Sara Bendel Ryan came by needing props for a local production of Men on Boats. Here are the four “Powell boat” bows I created.

They looked pretty cool onstage. It’s a very funny show if you ever get a chance to see it.

That’s about it for the shop doings. One last thing, though–the phenomenomally talented Margeaux Bestard came by to do some photography and shot, among other things, a shop crew portrait. Look her up if you need portraits! Margeaux