Page 3 of 3

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:49 am
by Dirk Visser 166
To deepen the concept of the evolution of tools, and boats as tools shaped by the sea, it might enliven the discussion to point out the distinction between the "plastic arts" and the "cut and fit" methods of building.

The tape measure is without doubt a small miracle in itself, enabling precision and consistency.

But the sculptor and the potter don't miss it much, and one still hears about third world boat builders working without drawings who have also minimized their measurement dependency, building by eye traditional time proven hulls.

As forms evolve and refine themselves over time they do seem to approach their own version of perfection. The line between cut and fit and moldable becomes blurred in the most pleasing of ways. When the eye knows beauty that the hands are capable of making, it is a window on Truth. Natural order transposed into created form with emotional content.

Boat designers have been at this a long time, and the present generation will be quick to credit their mentors and influences. Not that they need to, it is always plain to see in the lines of the vessels. Like all generations, when it comes to art and science and culture, we are standing on shoulders, as well as the ground..

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:57 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
I once did a late summer eight day kayak trip in upper Johnstone Strait with three friends . We each paddled our own single. Mine was a kit built Lockwood Queen Charlotte 19, there was a nice factory built Nordkapp, and two PWS Sea Otters laid up out of that company's beat up rental mold. The time was the mid-eighties.

Somehow we entrusted the menu planning and provisioning to the two scuba enthusiast bachelors. That came back to bite us us about day 6 in Robson Bight. Down to brown rice and soy sauce we were jigging for undersized rock cod among world class Orca displays.

A few days earlier we had lucked into a wild blackberry motherlode behind the abandoned buildings at Mammillacula in the village island group. I can still see the unpainted mossy 20 foot totem pole looming over me when my berry picking distraction was abruptly pre-empted.
In a museum it would have been ordinary , expected , and just about powerless. Out there, by surprise, I suddenly appreciated, and understood something - many things, deep, and of great value, which have never left me..

Open- ended explorations like this rate top of the chart on the small boat learning valuation scale.

The cargo capacity of the boats had been thoroghly celebrated , and utilized in the form of cast iron cookware, cases of beer, wet suits , air tanks and wieghts for the two divers who assured us of bountiful harvests and " living off the sea" like kings.
The " it's a Biological Desert down there " , worried - look verdict came three days later , on the far side of the Strait ...

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:59 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
I was in my farmer's market the other day and happened to see a woman wearing a hoodie sweatshirt with the declaration "Calculated Risk Taker" boldly printed on the back.

The previous week I had taken my daughter to see " The Walk" about the true story of the Frenchman who rigged a wire overnight between the roofs of the twin towers and walked that tightrope at sunrise at the then newly completed World Trade Center.

The point was skillfully made in the movie that the brazen, dangerous, illegal act was greatly admired and celebrated by New Yorkers and caused an attitude shift from architectural disdain for the towers to a feeling of pride, ownership, and affection.

The story is rich in the nuts and bolts of how the rigging was accomplished, while at the same time addressing open-heartedly the beautifully mysterious and spiritual question of why anyone would ever want to do such a thing..

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2015 5:51 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
Tracing the lineages of different kinds of hulls and rigs is an entertaining journey into human culture and ultimately the development of economics, and before that our place in the food chain of nature.
Candidates for longest continuously evolving designs get lost in the mists of the times of our neolithic ancestors:

Dugout canoes
Birchbark canoes
Haida cedar canoes
Greenland hunting kayaks
Skin boat Umiaks
Polynesian outrigger sailing canoes
Balsa log rafts
Irish Currach skin boats
Bundled reed boats

Then later, with the advent of commerce and warfare, we see designs like the Chinese Junk, Arab Dhow, and the Greek and Roman galley oarships, and the Viking longboats.
Fellucas and dories and yawlboats, whaleboats, captain's gigs, crewboats, lifeboats, surfboats, dinghies, yacht tenders , prams and pangas, all dot the small boat evolutionary record, and dozens more...

Fishing and commerce, and war or migration have always been the drivers until quite recently.. The concept of "pleasure boating " being basically an invention of the past couple of centuries.

So we take these small easily driven workboat or multihull designs of the recent past, refine and augment them, souping them up with composite panels , carbon spars, high aspect rigs and foils, or alternatively, the more traditional among us celebrate authentic accuracy with bronze, lugsails, tanbark, and teak.

And then some of us simply make do with whatever comes along, or what we can cobble together, just thrilled to be out on the water, unconcerned with the cutting edge or historical correctness.

Whichever way, we each own the craft or experience, and strive to enjoy our attempts at controlling the interplay of forces and the subtle nuances of the surroundings.
And the resulting learning and appreciation?
Well, we own that too!

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:13 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
Kurt Hoehne, editor of "Northwest Yachting", summed it up pretty well in one paragraph of his current monthly column "Course Made Good".

"Sure, boating connects people to nature in a unique way and is a great family activity and all that stuff. More importantly, boating teaches things like planning, communication, responsibility, environmentalism, respect for others, and teamwork, in a way few other pastimes can. It can keep us fit, engaged and active our whole lives. So, as a person, I would love to see more people get into boating. I think it would do our culture a lot of good."

Never mind that Northwest Yachting is a large format, glossy, sales oriented, complimentary publication.
All the more reason to acknowledge and appreciate the basic truths that drive individuals, and the industry, on all levels...

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:03 am
by Dirk Visser 166
Speaking of boat-oriented magazines, the ownership, management, and circulation stats for WoodenBoat found in this current issue are revealing.

That Jon Wilson, the guy who started it almost 50 years ago is still the sole owner kind of amazed me. And then the subscription numbers and newsstand sales, 32 and 23 thousand, respectively, were also smaller than I would have guessed. This is a big country for those small numbers..and I would guess SCA is an even more micro operation, how lucky we are to have them!

That both magazines are both beautiful and highly influential in their communities is not in doubt. I guess what I am learning is how rare and exceptional people are who build and appreciate the history of boats, and are taken by the lore of the sea in our day and times.

Must be a little like coming of age in San Francisco during the "Summer of Love"..
You thought the whole world was getting it back then........right ?
.......heh, heh !

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:39 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
Something I've recently come to appreciate through Howard Rice's ambitious plan to explore the Cape Horn land/water interface with the 12 foot scamp boat is the power and flexibility that a very small vessel bestows on its skipper and crew.

The human scale takes on new and valuable meaning when ultimate personal survival and preservation of the craft are the primary considerations.

Howard says it pretty well when he lists "the land" as the #1 danger to boats doing coastal navigation .

But if this risk factor can be mitigated by light weight and shallow draft the continent's edge can in many cases make a stress relieving transition from foe to friend..

Micro is the only way to realistically work this angle.. But it does open up a world of secure potential above high tide...The Land!


"This ocean, humiliating in its disguises
Tougher than anything.
No one listens to poetry. The ocean
Does not mean to be listened to. A drop
Or crash of water. It means
Is bread and butter
Pepper and salt. The death
That young men hope for. Aimlessly
It pounds the shore. White and aimless signals. No
One listens to poetry."

Jack Spicer

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:11 am
by Dirk Visser 166
Well, this 2nd edition of the r2ak has certainly proved out a lot about the challenges and rewards of small boat operations.
Maybe it's enough to say just that...

But no, we true believers are always curious to follow up on the stories and details of the events which make actual and armchair sailing one of our pastimes of choice..

So the sailors and rowers "Out There" have been busily gathering experience and solving prolems for all of us, "in here"..., the followers of the race.
.. But just how much of the character building which comes about is transferable, becomes an interesting question for racer and reporter and spectator alike to ponder..

Since this race is so diverse and unique and arduous, is it a fair question to ask if meaning can be easily extracted and communicated and shared from such an arrangement?

And if so, how do we begin to recognize, interpret, and celebrate this undeniable, physical and mental progress?

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:02 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
I do actually believe that the small boat is a monster in terms of instructional potential.
This thread is obviously a bit misplaced but such is the enthusiasm that the Race to Alaska is capable of generating..
I did check with Josh about a month in and he said "fine Dirk, leave it there.." Typical P. T. relaxed attitude I remember from the late '80's when I was there on the hard, aboard the Jay Benford schooner " Evergreen" , sister ship to the ketch " Harrambee", the only two of Jay's 60 footers ever built
George Maynard was living aboard then too.. S/ V "Zulu" . Author , offshore sailor, and East coast craftsman par excellance.
At that time PT was the West coast's largest public boatyard. Might still be..
Where was I.?
Oh yeah, ..just checking back in.. That wooden boat forum ?
Well, let's just admit, there are challenges..but no, I have no intention of giving it up.
With the mariner, as with Life, everything boils down to experience.
And there are a small handful of cool older guys over there I am learning from..have to admit..!

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:33 am
by Dirk Visser 166
Becalmed here on the old message board recently ...a week or two without posts, unusual!

Nonetheless, always something to be learned as we contemplate the vessel's behavior in still water, and survey the state of the cockpit and it's layout, features, and state of repair..
Always a good time to attend to "backsplicing", paint touch up, and sundry other odd jobs and tasks... Everything requires maintenance!
Luckily we boatmen might welcome the opportunity to dote on our pet project, after all, the unspoken question when it comes to boats is often:
"Just who owns who in this relationship?"

Then there is always the matter of improvements and subtle tweaks to enhance functionality, performance, and ego. Not necessarily in that order, of course!

Calm weather can be the ideal environment from which to approach these softer challenges, whether on the water or the forum...
Enjoy the peace while it lasts!