Tag Archives: annapolis wherry


After 17 months, Gracie is done. finishedwherry

And here’s what I started with:



Unlike the celebrations and inaugural launches I’ve seen on YouTube, the inaugural launch of Gracie was low key as fitting a high functioning introvert like me.  Just Sandy and me. No marching band. No champagne. I backed my truck up to the boat launch at the Port of Kingston, pulled her off the bed extension and set her gently in the water, locked in the oars, responded to a few comments from  some fisherman, took a few photographs, and then I was off, pulling out into Appletree Cove.

It was a big moment.  And yet I felt terribly out of sorts. On one hand, I had been working hard to get her done and out on the water before summer was completely  gone. But “done” meant I had to say goodbye to a routine that had become as anticipated as a greeting from an old friend.  When I wasn’t working on my boat, I was often thinking about what I was going to do next, and when I was about to attempt something I’d never done before – and I had plenty of those with this project – I was wrestling with how in the hell I was going to do them without committing an error so egregious it would ruin everything.  The project was very nearly all consuming at times, but more importantly, it was real, unlike so much of what I do.  In other words, it’s hard to sink your teeth into web-based training courses, but my boat was something I could quite literally bite, and I certainly breathed enough of her dust when I was sanding to make darn sure she was part of me in a way that wasn’t particularly healthy.

Enjoy. It’s a fairly common word with a less commonly used worked, joy, buried inside.  But that’s the word I would use to describe every moment of this project. It was a joy from start to finish, and now I’m experiencing a different kind of joy when I take it out on the water.


Delayed Gratification


One final coat of sea green polyurethane was the exclamation point to finishing the exterior hull of my wherry.  Now, it’s on to the interior with another coat of epoxy needed followed up by four or five coats of varnish.

I think the sea green adds a nice accent to the white planks below and the warm mahogany rail above.  The mahogany is a little dirty right at the moment, but once I clean up the white primer and finish with the varnish I think that line will be nice and clean looking. It helps to have a color expert as a wife!

I’m sure I’ll have a heart attack the first time I scrape the hull over some rocks or run over a piece of driftwood, but so it goes. I can’t imagine a worse fate for a boat than to be stuck in a garage or storage unit year after year. In other words, Gracie is meant to be rowed, and rowed a lot, and the best gift I can give my wherry and myself would be to row it so much I wear her out.

So, the exterior hull was initially covered with three coats of epoxy.  I followed that up with three coats of primer, and finished it off with five coats of white Interlux Brightside polyurethane, and four coats of Interlux sea green.  There was a couple of hours of sanding required after each coat except for the last one.

This project is many things but certainly an exercise in delayed gratification. But that makes moments like this all the sweeter, and the anticipation is growing for that first time I slip her into the water and head out across Appletree Cove.

Sandy is suggesting we have a christening of some sorts and invite everyone who has been following my progress. I suppose that would be okay,  though that’s not really my style.

But that’s next month. Now it’s time for a Black Butte Porter.

Or two.



4 hours of focused attention

Finisgluehullhed up the “gluing” portion of the “stitch and glue” process last Sunday afternoon.

It just happened to be the hottest day of the year, which made my west facing garage sauna-like.  Not that I’m complaining. Come the cold gray days of November the heat, sunshine, and brightness will be a fond memory. I also had music playing in the background, beer (Obsidian Stout) in the fridge, and 4 hours to spend focusing my attention on one thing and one thing alone: applying a bead of epoxy between the planks of my wherry.

syringe hullThe tool of the moment was a cheap, disposable plastic syringe, and I did make a note to myself early on to try and find a better syringe to use on my next boat.  Unlike a caulking gun that when used correctly can lay down a uniform bead of caulk, the syringe was so herky jerky in the way it dispensed epoxy it was impossible to get a consistent bead.

But I made do. And now the wherry is hull down and my next step will be to remove the copper stitches. Once that’s done, I can move on to filleting.

As some of you may remember, in addition to working on my wherry, I’m also reading Matthew Crawford’s latest book, The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction.  I read a few pages at a time and then spend the next few days thinking about what I read.  It’s that kind of book and he’s making me work at it.

Lately, I’ve been doing more and more thinking.  That’s because this book has turned out to be profound and alarming.  For example, I just finished a chapter titled, “Autism as a Design Principle: Gambling.”  I won’t go into the details here, but it was deeply disturbing, particularly the hints that other industries are/have already embraced the same design principle.

There’s no mystery to the reason why. It’s all the end result of billions of dollars of research into human behavior and the way our minds work. In short your brain is malleable.  And big companies know this. You may not start out addicted, but one of the goals of using their products is to make you that way.  Addiction makes you a loyal, life long customer.  Simple.  Drug dealers know this. So does corporate America.

I suppose most people don’t care about this one way or another. But the idea that we’re not autonomous creatures blessed with freedom to think, do, buy and opine whatever we choose has implications that I don’t care to contemplate right at the moment.

Freedom for puppets!

So how does one fight back against the Corporate Mengeles, the purveyors of group think and lemming-like behavior? Well, I’m getting to section in Crawford’s book, but from his early chapters, it seems that it may involve something that I’m already doing: through focused attention on something real, as opposed to something virtual.  This is also opposed to an activity that creates that illusion of choice, but really offers a sanitized version of reality with a predetermined subset of choices.  An example of this would be shopping for deodorant. You have five different brands to choose from offered by five different companies, but, in fact, all five companies are owned by the same parent company, so your choice is really not much of a choice at all, but simply a matter of choosing which scent or package you like more than the others. Video games are another example.  They offer a predetermined number of options so players are given the illusion of real choice. Over time, they begin to assume that that is how the real world works. When they discover it doesn’t, the tendency is to find refuge in the “safer” and more predictable virtual world.

In any case, it seems that spending 4 hours gluing fits the bill. During that time, I didn’t answer my phone, check for text messages, or peruse the web.  I just glued (with occasional beer breaks). As it turns out, Sandy and I did something similar on Saturday. We didn’t glue, but we went hiking in the Olympic’s along the Duckabush River.  It was a gorgeous day, the river was lovely with cool pools and water the color of Swedish crystal.  We chose the hike, the distance we walked, where we stopped for lunch, when we turned around, and dealt with the dilemma of a few unknowns such as an unmarked fork in the trail. Which way to go?  We couldn’t google an answer.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell you how much I cherish my time unplugged, without distractions, and with choices to make that are mine, and mine alone. At least, I think they’re all mine….