WoodenBoat Magazine 277
WoodenBoat Magazine 277

November / December 2020

Editor's Page

A Passport of the Finest Kind

The timing couldn’t have been better. On a mid-August afternoon last summer, I was delivering my cherished sloop back from an unexpected yard period in Rockport, Maine, to her home mooring in nearby Castine. It was a sparkling day, and we were propelled along by a brand-new gearbox—a replacement installed, it was determined upon haulout, after a cascade of mishaps sparked by an encounter with some fishing gear led to the conclusion that the old one might fail. That was a specter I wasn’t willing to live with. And it was an expense for which I had not prepared.

A few days before my trip home, I’d sent Jan Adkins a note that included the blithe comment: “…there are times when I question my own sanity as regards boat ownership.” Jan, a dear friend and author-illustrator of our Getting Started in Boats series, took my offhand comment to heart—and took a few moments from his busy schedule to remind me of a few things.

Jan’s message arrived when I was about halfway along my track home, getting back into the rhythm of my boat. He recalled his own challenges with boat ownership, but then remembered fondly when he would bear away, seaward, after clearing his home harbor: “…every burnt-out impeller motor, every hour of sanding, was part of that long, wave-rhythmic run. Yes, owning the big, faulty, expensive machine was important but only in that I needed to own the right to involvement and not just be a paying passenger. The suffused joy of those Right Moments was purchased with learned skills, expended knuckle skin, doing enough wrong to learn the right way, becoming a waterman in synch with tide and weather and hydrography, claiming local knowledge, pushing the envelope, bringing a family into your water life. I’ve done that. You do that.”

And we do. Earlier that summer, my wife, Holly, and I had cruised in the boat with our three children, ages 5, 8, and 10, for two glorious weeks. Our kids have gotten their first whiffs of freedom from this boat, making rowing excursions on their own in the morning and swimming in the afternoon. They’ve learned firsthand the practicalities and realities of conservation—bathing in saltwater followed by sparing freshwater rinses. They’ve marveled at seals and porpoises; stood in awe of the depth and breadth of the cosmos; hiked unspoiled island trails. We’ve watched them bring these lessons of engagement and resourcefulness home and apply them to their land lives and their budding concept of humanity and citizenship.

Adkins went on: “So, yeah, you’re pragmatically correct in questioning your sanity. A boat is way too expensive and way too demanding, and a complex of a hundred things waiting to go wrong in a corrosive saltwater environment. You are a dummy, and anyone stepping out of a well-maintained car can tell you in how many degrees you are a fool. They’re right. But you’re a waterman and you own that, and the damn barkie you paint and varnish and keep like an expensive coffee table tossed into the sea, constantly in jeopardy, is your passport.”

I can’t imagine a better passport at this moment in time.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Page 24

The Dream Boats of Seattle

by Lawrence W. Cheek

One spring afternoon in 1928, The Seattle Daily Times dispatched one of its reporters—a “veritable landlubber,” in the writer’s self-description—to amble over to nearby Lake Union Dry Dock Co.
Preview Article
Page 34

Saving a Speedliner

by Greg Hatten

Sitting in my driveway on its weathered rusty trailer with the treadless tires, Speedliner No. 226 looked a little different from the one I saw through rose-colored glasses in Steve Schomburg’s boatshop only a few hours earlier.

Preview Article
26’ Trimaran
Page 44

In the Wake of Nomads

by Randall Peffer

It’s crazy how I got hooked,” says Brandon Walters, looking back on how he came to own and restore POCO LOCO, a Cross 26 trimaran launched in 1972.
Preview Article
Page 56


by Reggie Townsend

"How many does it take to sail something like this?” That is the question I am most frequently asked by people meeting RAINBOW for the first time, and they’re always surprised when I answer that I not only sail this 63' boat singlehanded but also maintain her mostly on my own.

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Spar Gauge
Page 80

The Spar Gauge

by Harry Bryan

Few articles written about making a boat’s spars fail to include instructions for building a gauge for creating accurate facets as an intermediate step between squaring and rounding.
Preview Article

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