Sunday, February 26, 2023

Greatings from Doryman

The voyage ethereal continues apace...

 When this weblog was introduced, I didn’t really know where to take it. Then, I found the beautifully functional designs of Iain Oughtred! Web searches turned up little, so I decided to profile some of his work here. Those who have been around for a while may remember what blossomed into profiles of small boats of all kinds, with emphasis on home-builders and their creations. Today, the Internet is awash with gunkholing vessels of many types and documentation of their creation. The community I once envisioned has arrived and I am so happy to be part of it. After forty years as a wood boat builder and builder’s advocate in the workspace, I’ve passed on the baton.

 Make no mistake, I continue to sail and have a few projects languishing here and there, as health allows. For now, I have exciting news. From the days when I first learned to sail, my experience was with small wooden keel boats. Then came the Gougeon Brothers with their plywood and glue methods, revolutionizing home boatbuilding forever.

 While I’ve embraced new materials and methods, my heart still lies with hand-built vessels made of living trees. To be sure, although some are still being built, the planked wooden boats of yore are an anachronism today. I’ve lived and breathed this transition, so in some ways, I suppose that makes me anachronistic, too. So be it.

 Enter Etta May, a Friendship sloop built in 1960. Carvel planked cedar on oak frames, it doesn’t get much more traditional than that. She’s 27 feet LOD (on-deck) with a 6 foot extreme beam and 32 feet over-all She has a short spruce mast, supporting a gaff rigged mainsail, running backstays and all. I could be twenty years old again! Various sized jibs (hanked-on) and spinnakers complete the rig.


Auxilary power is a small diesel motor, but you know how Doryman feels about motors of all kinds.

Please note the mount for a sculling oar.

A realistic survey of this 63 year old shows her age. We may be on our last dance, who knows? All I can tell you is, I’m happy to be here.

 A new/old chapter in the Voyage Ethereal.

New Skipper.

The only gaff rig in the bunch.

Isn't she beautiful?

Wednesday, June 23, 2021


 Where would be without it? Impossible to imagine. 

In the last year we've seen a lot. The global pandemic has been the biggest spotlight of all, highlighting the cracks and crevasses of human society.

Personally, for now, the worst has passed. Ignoring the pitfalls of aging... A topic for another day.

Today, lets do a doryman boatyard update, a virtual photo tradition.

First of all, we recently moved from here:

To here:

Doesn't look like a boat, does it? The bonus will, at last, be a venue for you-know-what. Let the boat mania begin!

The first news is the acquisition of Ralph Merriman's Pearl, Fleckerl.

Fleckerl is a Tom Campion design, the "Pearl". Ralph's build history is an interesting one. The boat is complete now, but has never been sailed, or even rigged. We plan to rectify that soon. 

Next up is a 1969 Ericson 23, Amber Rose, a vintage class of  the once popular entry level race/cruise family designs. Perfect for an aging sailor. I had her hauled out right away to remove several years of heavy marine growth. She's now cleaned of a few layers of mold and ready for cruising. She's berthed in the water, where fine tuning of rigging and systems is on-going. I've had her out for a few day-sails and, with a new set of sails, she'll do just fine.  

New topside and ablative bottom paint and she's ready to fly.

Her name came with the boat and for now I feel no need to change.

This is what a mussel farm looks like....

My very good friend, Bob Mitsch passed over the bar at the end of last year, a victim of the Covid monster. Weeks before, I had purchased an Iain Oughtred Whilly Boat from him. This is a dory Bob and his brother built and I feel honored to own it. It has a full rig that has never been tried. Can't let that challenge go unmet.
 RIP Robert, see you on the other side.

As you can see, this vessel is very much on the docket. An older boat, getting a make-over.

Had enough? There are more, but I think the work schedule is full for now.
All the very best, from the Doryman Boatyard. Cheers!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Chebacco, ALUNA

As promised, here is an update on Aluna, the lapstrake Chebacco, 12years old, made new.

In northern Columbia the Kogi, as the custodians ('Big Brother') of Earth, have been looking down from their mountain at the activities of ‘Younger Brother’ (their name for the rest of humanity) and become frightened about how the world is changing. They believe there is a mind inside nature, that they call ‘Aluna’.

The Chebacco is a Phil Bolger design in a minimalist shallow water cruiser.

Aluna had sadly been left for  decade on a trailer under a tarp. This photo shows the cockpit sole removed. Fortunately the evil wood rot had not reached it's tentacles into the hull beneath.

Today, I'm happy to report, the offending microbe has been banished, repairs complete, and Aluna floats. My good friend, Doug and I shared the repair and he took on the task of refinishing the entire vessel. And what a gorgeous job. The rigging is roughed out, so sea trials could commence any day.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves...

(that object just off the bow is the lid on a tractor)

As the sun sets Aluna rests in her slip, waiting for rigging to be complete, to try her wings.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Confessions of a Disabled Sailor

The world pandemic has found me under my own forced convalescence. As some of you know, I was near fatally injured in a car accident forty years ago. Prosthetics and orthotics have made it possible for me to live a full, eventful life regardless, some of which we've all shared here in these pages for almost thirteen years(!).

Two years ago I suffered a stoke, which impaired my balance enough that eventually a dramatic fall last October began an extended period of convalescence, from then until now. Growing old is not for the faint of heart.

But, determined to carry on, I fully intend to come out the other side stronger, despite being the target age of this debilitating world disease. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you some projects underway in the Doryman boatyard.
The last post found Doryman floundering under a capsize in the worthy faering, Saga. Although she saw service through the rest of last summer, she'd been abused and misused, much the same as her skipper. Some parts and pieces were lost in the capsize and her finishes suffered. Though no lasting damage resulted, she is in need of love, which comes apace. I love this little boat. We've been through a lot together, most of which was pure joy. She's a challenge to sail, the older I get, but I'm not ready to give up yet, we have more time to share.

Here's a shot of a debilitated Doryman at the helm, after the capsize last summer. That timid posture is the result of doing more than I should with a recent spinal injury from the fall I mentioned earlier. Hurts my back just to look at it.


Right now, there are no restrictions on sailing from the marina I live in so the plan is to launch Saga by May Day, in the Puget Sound, Salish Sea.

Travel is pretty restricted here, since the Canadian border to the north is closed to boaters and most marinas are closed. But for me it's all one ocean, as my friend Webb is wont to point out from time to time.

Restrictions imply impermanence, which brings us to some exciting news;


Back in 2009 I had the pleasure of a cruise in Chuck's self-built Chebacco Full Gallop. Nice boat.
About that time, I came upon the same design, but with lapstake planking. Unfortunately the price was too steep for me, which was a shame, since I'd come to love the boat by then.

Fast forward to last month. The same boat is still for sale. Well, no longer, because my friend, Doug and I went and picked it up. 

The Chebacco is a Phil Bolger design in a minimalist shallow water cruiser. Repairs are underway as we speak. When the Canadian border opens up, I know where I'm going. 

Disabilities be damned.

More anon...

Monday, June 17, 2019


I capsized last week for the first time. Ever. 

Those who have been here for a while will recognize the eighteen foot long Saga, a design based on the Norwegian faering. She has taken me hundreds of nautical miles and though she's a vulnerable open vessel, I have complete confidence in her.

We had some lively seas that day and had weathered them fine for several hours. The journey nearly at an end, we found ourselves in a protected bight with no breeze, sitting very still.

A surprise gust of wind hit and before I could release the mainsheet, water was cascading over the coaming . I forgot how fluky the South Puget Sound winds can be. A fellow named Dave up on the bank heard me from where he was working in his garage and came out in his skiff. (I'd lost both cell phone and VHF radio, was cursing my predicament and yelling for help. I have very healthy lungs.).

In the meantime, a Coast Guard helicopter, two fire departments, a local first-responder group on jet skis and a fire-boat showed up. I was in the water about an hour and had hypothermia.

When Dave showed up, I was focused solely on getting Saga righted, and bless him, against his better judgment, tried to help. We did get the boat upright but she was awash and we had to abandon her to get me to shore. He was shocked that I could pull myself up on his swim platform, but that's what adrenaline is for.

A fire department first aid truck group brought my body temperature back up, blood pressure down, so there was no trip to the hospital. The fire-boat brought Saga into Boston Harbor and pumped her out. Lost some stuff, but got my boat back. And lived to tell the story.

I am in debt to a small army of highly trained people and one savvy local mariner. That's what this epistle is about. A big shout-out to all those who protect us against ourselves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

You Must Be the Change You Want to See in the World

So said Mahatma Gandhi, a very wise man.
A couple days ago, during a wild winter storm here in the Pacific Northwest, a tornado touched down in a small local town and selectively destroyed a block of homes. Tornadoes are very rare around here, so the usual discussion about climate change erupted.

Suffice to say, I have no doubt that humans have contributed to the drastic changes we now experience in our environment. Perhaps it is too late to return to a more innocent age ecologically, but it is dangerously naive to believe we can continue with business as usual and expect to not suffer.

In a recent post on his excellent blog Ecosophia , John Michael Greer makes the salient point that we have distanced ourselves too much from nature. If anthropogenic climate change is real (and it's suicidal to believe it's not) then, it's past time for us to take our contribution seriously and reduce our carbon footprint in our daily lives. Literally, walk the walk.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


We've experienced so much damage from fire this year in the US! For two good friends of mine (and yours) the pain just hit home two days ago. Barry and Terri Long suffered the loss of their home in Virginia and though I can't offer much detail, I can pass on the news to our community, to which Barry has given so much through his fine website, Marginalia

Image may contain: night and outdoor

Friends and neighbors of the Longs have started a fundraiser to help them out. I thought possibly some of you might be interested.

Thank you and please remember those who have been displaced from their homes this holiday season - for whatever reason.

Monday, September 10, 2018


For those who've already seen this photo on social media, I apologize. Still, may I have a word?
The word used most often to describe this scene was serenity. While that might be so, serenity in this case is married to intensity. Concentration coupled with calculation. All senses tuned to the moment, in perfect harmony.

It's been a difficult year, ruled by Saturn. But like many mariners, DoryMan turns to the water to soothe his soul.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Rowing in Style

The Michael Storer Skiff wasn't finished in time for Seventy48 but thankfully that's OK with Randy. He wasn't going to race in the warm-up event to the Race to Alaska anyway. Speaking of the Race to Alaska, what about those women?!

Sail Like a Girl, with a team of seven women won the 750 mile race from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska. It seems they peddled-powered their Melges 32 half the way on this motor-less event. Congratulations to those hard working women.

Here at home, a slightly less exciting victory - the MSD skiff is complete and ready for her first splash. Randy Jones, her proud owner will announce a launch date soon and I'll be sure to pass it on.

There have been a few setbacks during this build and no one is happier to see it finished than I. We have the highest expectations for this simple, elegant design. She came in at just around 100 pounds, not bad for a sixteen foot boat built to carry half a ton.

Randy says:
"Her first launch is set for noon on Saturday, July 7th at Mystery Bay State Park, Nordland WA. The curious are welcome and encouraged to bring their own boats. I'll noodle around for a few hours and let everyone take a test row."

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

MSD Rowing Skiff

As promised, here's the latest on the rowing skiff from Michael Storer. I like this little flash rowing design very much. She is sleek and light, undoubtedly fast.

The first coat of primer goes on the hull.

Turn upright and the true shape starts to show.

Very simple design, graceful lines. The bulkheads installed will become sealed floatation.

We must always have a shot of clamps. The spacers set the inwale off the hull, a useful detail allowing for tying on fenders.

The flotation seats will provide almost 600 pounds of safety.

Same shot, different view.

To be continued...........