Here's something rarely seen above the 45th parallel in January. Leucojum is a very hardy, naturalizing, early spring bulb. Early spring in January?!? And there are crocus coming up in the lawn. Despite the dire implications of climate change, I'm happy to see these warm weather harbingers.
As promised in the last post, I visited Tillamook, Oregon last week to meet Joe and look over his old Stone Horse. As I always feel, with a boat of pedigree, this fine vessel should be back in the water. She's 67 years going on 17. A bit of diligent effort and a new owner would have a true classic. Anyone interested in knowing more is encouraged to contact me at the address at the end of this post.
While spending the morning with Joe, we checked out his current project - a Pacific City fishing dory. Joe grew up fishing with his father, launching their double-ended dory from the beach at Pacific City, as deep sea fishermen have done for more than a century. He quit school to go to work on his own boat at sixteen, and in an eclectic, even eccentric life, has never looked back. A man after my own heart. The stories that morning ranged from building and flying his own airplane, to hang gliding trophies, to being a ski bum.
As for the dory, Joe tells it best:
"I am a P.C./ Cape Kiwanda doryman. I found this project in the an open equipment shed at a small farm near Tillamook, Oregon, 20 miles from Pacific City, the home of the Dory Fleet. The boat was built around 1958, and is the actual prototype of the first of the new breed of surf dory that changed a culture, When the first two TEXAN square stern dories showed up at the Pacific City Dory Derby in 1958, They dominated and easily won the Derby. Ironically, first prize was a brand new double end dory."
"Five years later, in spite of quite a number of naysayers, there were at least a half dozen manufacturers cranking the new dory type out as fast as possible. This revolution led to the unlikely event of Pacific City, a city without a port, becoming the highest salmon producer during the salmon boom of the 70's."
"The only reason I found this piece of history, is that I had always been interested in the TEXAN dories, because I remembered them from the period, and my father was a close friend of one of the builders. Dad and I discussed the boat many times during the next 40+ years. We really liked the clean simple lines and especially liked the extremely efficient use of material. Dad called the design elegant, and I agree."
"I knew that one of the two original builder/designers was still around. Stan Kephart is well into his eighties and wouldn't be with us forever. I did not know him personally, but knowing that if I was ever going to build a TEXAN type dory, I needed to talk with him. So one day, I just drove down his driveway, and knocked on his door. I told him of my interest and asked if he had any drawings or measurements... I was quite sure that the last example had been burned several years back, and I was kicking my butt for not measuring the boat...To my surprise, Stan lights up, and says, no, but there is one in Fred's shed a mile down the road. Fred Wyss, Stan's best friend and co-designer/builder had died in 1979 and the boat had been there since...He asked me if I wanted to check it out.? The family is selling the farm and that boat has to go."
"I ended up taking the TEXAN II home...A year and a half later, I am laid off work, and getting a good start on the project."
The boat is indeed historic. Close examination reveals alterations incorporated in the build, to improve performance. A design work in process by Stan and Fred. The original Pacific City dory was an oar-driven double-ended boat which, with the advent of the marine motor, was redesigned with a wide transom. This allowed the boat to climb on top of the incoming wave and escape the surf quickly. It was also the motor, coupled with a flat run aft in the hull ,that allowed these boats to surf into the beach on the back of a single wave.
Today, on the west coast of the US, these surf dories are what people think of when dories are mentioned. But most of the old wood versions have been relegated to decorating the parking lots of restaurants or motels, filled with flowers.
Kudos to Joe for saving this piece of history. Thanks, Joe, for sharing your find with us. Maybe you'll take me fishing one day?
Photos courtesy of Joe Evens.
mbogoger (at) gmail