Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rowin' on the River

As I hitched up the boat I could hear the surf pummeling the Oregon Coast even though my house is more than a half mile from the beach. This weekend the storm-warning flags flew for the first time in months. Driving south along the coast highway the wind buffeted Ravn on the trailer.

I picked up my friend, Scott, in Newport. He brought his fishing pole and net because the salmon are running up the Yaquina River. Both of us brought our foul-weather gear.

As we drove east the wind abated, but the sky was a threatening rain. We got to Elk City around 1 p.m. to total calm and no rain, conditions that would persist until about the last mile of our row. Nine other boats were there from the Western Oregon Messabouts (the Coots) -- 14 other Coots and spouses. it was an interesting group of boats that included a Bogler Light Schooner, two canoes, a Puddle Duck Racer, a Footloose Skiff designed by Warren Jordan, a Pete Culler Good Little Skiff and a Paul Gartside Riff.

We rowed six miles down the river on a falling tide that sometimes gave us as much as a two-knot push. The salmon were jumping and rolling all along the six miles of river, but Scott didn't get a bite. Only one other boat we passed caught one and it was dark (past its prime), they said.

I rowed most of the way while Scott fished. He did try out the new oars and agreed with me that they could stand to have more wood removed from the shaft between the leathers and the blade. We rowed double for a while: four oars first, then we both sat on the same thwart and rowed one oar each. The surprising thing was that we seemed to go as fast each rowing one oar as we did under four oars. What will it be like with four rowers!?

The weather was very nice for late October, no wind or rain and about 60 degrees. Then, about a mile from our goal, a gust of wind so sudden and strong that it took your breath away struck us and it started to pour. Everyone was ready with the rain gear and no one looked too uncomfortable, but we were all ready to get out by the time we reached the Quarry Boat Launch.

Mary, who organized the event with her husband Michael (a.k.a. Doryman), ferried the drivers back to their towing rigs. Once back at the boat launch, many helpers made loading the 10 boats a quick operation.

We then went to Pigfeathers, a great little BBQ joint in Toledo. The food, the company and the service was awesome! A nice end to a great rowing event!

For more (and better) photos got to Doryman's blog and John Kohnen's photos.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New oars!

Last night I finished the 10-foot pair of oars I've been working on for the past five weeks or so. Gluing up the blanks was a bit of a pain, so I dilly dallied around, putting off the parts I didn't like. After the glue up, the project went quickly.

I enjoy working with draw knives and spokeshaves and soon I was ankle deep in shavings. My Stanley No. 40 scrub plane and my Stanley No. 3 small smooth plane came in handy as well. Both these planes are more than 100 years old and work every bit as well now as they did when they were made. I suspect the 10-inch draw knife and the two spokeshaves are at least close to the same age, but Stanley planes are much easier to date because of the changes in the Stanley logo and the innovations the company made to their planes.

I used Douglas fir because I couldn't find spruce of the right size. As I was finishing up this pair a friend suggested that Port Orford cedar would be another good wood for oars, and I have no doubt he's right, but that's another difficult wood to find. The oars turned out heavier than I wanted, but they seem to be well balanced.

I used a pair of Norwegian oars that are more than 50 years old as my guide. These are the most beautiful set of oars I've ever seen. I just wish they were long enough, but, alas, they are only eight feet long.

I will see how well they work tomorrow on a 10-mile row from Elk City to Toledo, Ore., on the Yaquina River. My friend, Scott, who loaned me his 9-foot oars, is coming with me. This is a Western Oregon Messabouts/Traditional Small Craft Association event. The weather is not shaping up all that great - looks like we will have wind and rain - but the tide will be in our favor. A spring tide should give us about a two-and-a-half knot push. Afterwards we are eating BBQ at Pigfeathers, a great little restaurant across from the Toledo City Docks.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A row with neighbors

On Columbus Day I took my neighbors out for a row on the lake near our homes. I wanted to repay Ray for all the help he gave me during the building of Ravn. I also wanted to see how she would perform with four adults on board.

The weather was beautiful -- sunny with a slight breeze. I brought my 8-foot oars as well as the 9-footers I'm borrowing from a friend. Both Ray and I rowed and she move smartly along. Both our wives were in the princess seat and everyone had plenty of room. The boat was amazingly stable, which is great when you are loading and unloading folks who are not used to being around small boats. We all agreed after the row that we could have had a couple of grandkids in the boat without overcrowding the boat.

Meantime, I'm almost finished with the final shaping of the 10-foot oars I'm working on. And across the country Rick launched his Valgerda on Columbus Day.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ravn Rows in the Ocean

With the good weather quickly coming to an end here on the Oregon coast, I often forgo working on the boat to go out for a quick row. Last week my brother was in town and I took him rowing on the Salmon River and crossed a breaking bar out into the wide Pacific. With a four-foot swell and a fresh breeze Ravn was truly in her element. The photo shows the mouth of the Salmon River with Cascade Head in the background.

Ravn did what few boats can do of any size and that's to cross a shallow river bar with breaking seas. At no time did I feel like the boat was out of control or that we were in danger. This is what these boats were built for and centuries of refinement have made them very good at it. She tracked like she was on rails, even when we were on top of the breaking waves. It was nice having my brother there to direct me over the bar. You need a set of eyes looking looking fore and aft to negotiate such a maneuver. It would have been nicer still to have had a second set of oars for him to use, so instead of directing he could have rowed facing forward while sitting on the stern thwart. The added thrust would have been nice, but not essential.

Once we were out on the ocean we fished near some off-shore rocks. The boat held station like she had a parking break. There is a lot of boat below the waterline, even though I have opted for less keel than Mr. Atkin drew. Both my brother and I moved around the boat at will. This boat is very stable. It feels more like a 25-foot keel boat and not at all like a dingy.

After a couple hours of fishing (not catching, by the way) we came back across the bar and found a nice little beach inside the river's mouth to eat our lunch. My brother again proved his worth by guiding me between some suitcase-sized rocks until Ravn's bow slid up on the beach. I jumped out first (I had on rubber boots) and held the bow. My brother, in street shoes, was able to step off the bow onto dry beach. Another good reason to go with the a shallow keel.

I thought Ravn would be a lot less handy than her predecessor, a 13.5-foot Chamberlain dory. She is about three times as heavy, draws about eight more inches and is five feet longer. In other words, she's a lot more boat. I thought that would make her harder to launch and recover and harder to tow behind my little four-cylinder truck. I have not found that to be the case. It takes about the same time and effort to launch and recover the boat and I hardly notice I'm towing anything when I have her hitched up. While I generally agree with the old saw that the smaller the boat the more you use it. that's not my experience with Ravn. From the time I get it in my head that "Hey, I should go for a quick row," to when I'm actually rowing on the lake near my house is about 10 minutes. That's the same amount of time it took with my little dory. And, because this boat is so much more capable and seaworthy, I know I will use it more.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ravn's Rowing Report

Since launching Ravn Aug. 21 I've taken her rowing four times and I'm happy to report that, true to her Viking heritage, she handles like a dream under oars. There's no question that she has some weight when you take that first pull, but the extra glide seems to more than make up for it. She also just brushes off small waves.

The other thing I'm really pleased about is how stable she is. While rowing alone I used all of my 250 pounds to try and push the gunwale down at the middle of the boat. I didn't even get my knuckles wet. On another occasion I took my wife, daughter and her two kids rowing with me. At one point during the voyage four of the five of us were standing and moving about the boat; it didn't feel at all tippy. The grandkids had a ball running around on the boat.

When you look at the boat from the end it is narrow on the waterline, which makes it such a good pulling boat. She quickly gets beamier, however, as the boat heels or as the load increases, making her more stable. This bodes well for her being able to stand up under the press of sail.

I rowed across the lake near my home last Saturday when the wind was blowing about 15 knots creating some nasty wind chop. She didn't ship a drop of water and behaved herself like a lady, tracking straight and true. I decided to stop rowing and see what she would do. She slowly came to a stop and then clocked head to wind. I think that is the payoff for having a long, fairly deep (for a rowboat) keel.

While at the Toledo Wooden Boat Show, a fellow Coot loaned me two binders loaded with information on Scandinavian boats. It included a monograph on the Hardanger Faering by Owen H. Wicksteed prepared for the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, copyright 1978. The author's family owned Kari, a Hardanger faering built in 1892. (I believe that this is the boat on which Paul Fisher based his Kari 2.) The oars used on the Kari were 10 feet, four inches long.

All the rowing I've done so far has been with a pair of 9-foot oars I borrowed from a friend. They move Ravn along just fine, but I feel the need for a little more leverage. I'm at work on a pair of 10-foot oars modeled after a pair of 8-foot Norwegian-made oars that are about 50 years old. They are beautifully made and have a nice shape. I'm excited to finish them and try them out.

One concern I had about Ravn was that she would be more difficult to launch and tow than my 14-foot Chamberlain dory. I need not have worried; even though Ravn is more than three times as heavy and has a deeper draft, it is not noticeably more difficult to launch, recover or tow than my little dory was.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Launch day!

363 days after turning the boat over she finally got a taste of her true element. I worked late into the night sanding, varnishing and completing other chores so I could take her to the Toledo Wooden Boat Festival yesterday. My wife and I drove to Toledo and launched her about a mile and a half from the festival.

When I thought of launching Ravn I envisioned a larger affair with friends and food, but the actual launch was better than I imagined; just my wife and I at a quiet boat launch with no one else around. I tied a glass nazir (a Turkish bead that symbolizes the eye of God) around the stem with marline and tucked a spruce bow and a raven feather in the marline. Then I said a little prayer to God, poured my favorite beverage on the bow stem. Gave her a little shove off the trailer and she was afloat for the first time!

There's still a lot of work to do -- I need to make the mast, yard, boom, rudder, tiller and fit the hatches on the water-tight compartments -- but I feel like I've really reached a milestone.

The best part is that she rows like a dream. I'm eager to see what she will be like with two, three and four rowers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Getting the Right Rake

Atkin specifies Valgerda's mast should rake five inches in 10 feet, that's one in 24 or about two degrees. You don't have to hang around me long before you discover that I'm not a whiz at math or even simple arithmetic. Finding where Ravn's mast step needed to be had me scratching my head for a while. Finally, I took an eight-foot two-by-two, stuck it through the mast partner and marked it. Then I measured five feet up from that mark and made another mark. I made a block two and a half inches long and found another stick longer than five feet. I taped the whole thing together making sure one end of the shorter stick was at the five-foot mark and the block was level with the mast partner. Then I taped a spirit level to the whole lashup. Ravn's keelson is level so I was able to gage when the second stick was perpendicular. I made a mark. Phew!

A pattern, a chunk of purple heart, some time on the bandsaw and hollow-chisel mortiser, rasp, files and sandpaper and PRESTO! A mast step! I also added an screw eye to anchor a downhaul for the boom at the jaws. A little epoxy and I checked another item off the list.

Speaking of lists: I don't have an exhaustive list of jobs left to finish. I only make a series of short lists - with never more than six or eight items. I made the mistake once of ticking off the items remaining to be finished while talking to a friend. This was not written down and I skipped a lot of the small stuff. Still, that experience nearly sunk me into a state of depression. So, to keep off the Prozac, I make my lists short. When I get everything checked off the list I'm working on, I throw it away and start a new one.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kjeip or Kabes

I love rowing, but I am not a fan of oar locks. I've tried about every kind, and they just don't feel right. There's something about how the metal engages the wood that takes away from the organic feel of bone and muscle moving wood through water.

My eyes were opened several years ago when I rowed the Hewitt R. Jackson, a replica longboat built by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in Aberdeen, Wash. The longboat has 10 rowing stations, is 26 feet long and displaces more than a ton. It's a replica of the longboat Capt. Robert Gray carried aboard the Columbia and would be almost identical to the one in which Capt. Bligh made his famous open-boat voyage.

When I was with the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport - first as an employee, then as a volunteer and a board member - I had many occasions to sail aboard the seaport's flagship, the brig Lady Washington. As wonderful as crewing aboard a square rigger is, the longboat was much more fun. Although there are 10 rowing stations, she will move along smartly with only four or six rowers.

Part of what makes the longboat experience such fun is that the oarsmen pull against a thole pin with the oar held in place with a rope gasket. This was the eye-opening experience I had. This arrangement cured all of the complaints I had against metal oar locks. In addition to the feel - that can't be matched by metal oar locks - thole pins and rope gaskets are traditional, cheap, easily replaced and just look bitching!

Thole pins are what Atkin specified in the plans for Valgerda. I was planning, looking forward in fact, to putting thole pins on Ravn... that is until I saw pictures of faerings fitted out with kabes or kjeip. (I believe that kabe is the name Shetland Islanders call them and kjeip is the Norwegian.) These are even more traditional (on faerings, at least) than thole pins. And they are way more bitching! The problem for me was that I didn't have anything but pictures to go on in designing the two pair of kabes for Ravn.

I scoured the internet for anything I could find out about them. Other than a few pictures and some vague descriptions, I didn't have much to go on. I did decide that I liked the looks of the kjeip on the Viking-era faerings better than later, more modern - like, only a couple hundred year-old, versions. The Viking-era kjeip were made from a section of log with a branch sticking out from it. This would be much stronger than one carved out of a chunk of wood because the grain of the wood would flow correctly - otherwise you have, what woodworkers call, "a short-grain situation."

As soon as I decided to put kjeip on Ravn I should have shouldered my ax and bow saw and headed into the woods, but I didn't think I would have time to find what I needed and have them dry in time for the launch. Boy, was I blind: that was about 18 months ago!

Last winter I decided to dive in and make some out of white oak and glue some reinforcement pieces on the sides to strengthen the short grain so it didn't break off. This all looked good on paper, but once I sawed, glued and started to shape them I soon lost my enthusiasm. They just did not look right.

My enthusiasm returned a couple months ago when I spotted some eight-quarter purple heart in a specialty hardwood store in Seattle. I'd also been revising the design in my head and had a solution to the short-grain problem. Finally, last week I put pencil to paper, came up with a shape I liked and suddenly I was a kjeip maker again. My solution to strengthening the short grain is to drill a half-inch hole through the middle of the upright portion of the kjeip and epoxy in a half-inch dowel of purple heart I turned on the lathe. It sounds easier than it was, but it wasn't too bad.

The thing that took the longest was the shaping, first with a bandsaw, then with rasps, files and sandpaper. The process reminded me a lot of making cabriole legs, like Queen Ann and Chippendale tables have. The difference was that nearly any furniture wood is more yielding than purple heart. The stuff is like a mineral!

I used my best epoxy-gluing techniques to attach them to the gunwale and then reinforced the join with some 5/16 dowels. With no metal fasteners, you can remove the whole affair with a handsaw should it ever need to be replaced.

A hole - drilled on a near diagonal from outboard, aft to inboard - is for the length of quarter-inch line that will capture the oar. I may eventually splice together a proper gasket, but for now I want to play around with the length of the loop so I will use a Zeppelin bend to join the two ends.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Keel Questions

The keel on Atkin's Valgerda may be the most controversial element in his design catalog. Yesterday I received an email from Tom in Georgia, who is about to order Valgerda plans, but needs shallower draft than the 18 inches drawn by Atkin. Here's part of my reply:

"I looked at the Atkin keel and decided to go with a little deeper version of what a traditional faering would have. Faerings, according to Atkin's own account, had a 4-inch keel that ran the length of the boat. I deepened that to 6 1/2 inches and included about 100 pounds of ballast. Without any keel at all the boat draws 6 inches, so I figure mine will draw about 12 1/2 inches. It also looks better to my mind than the Atkin keel. No doubt his would go to windward better, but not much better, I'll bet. The decrease in the wetted surface should improve performance under oars and all points of sail other than hard on the wind. That's my justification. For more on my thinking on the keel look at this post and the two that follow it. You can also look at Rick Nardone's excellent build at and the comments following it.

"I did think about a centerboard, but not for too long. In the second issue of Boat Design Quarterly O'Brian talks about a Valgerda that he rowed and said it was a fine boat "except the builder ruined it by giving it a centerboard." I understand your need for shallow draft, but not having a centerboard opens up the inside of the boat in a wonderful way. I think it weakens the boat to have a centerboard and the board is always a maintenance problem and the case usually ends up leaking. That said, I'd love to see a Valgerda with a centerboard. I bet, with a proper foil, it would go to windward better than the original design. But, I think what we are taking about here is a full redesign.

"If I wanted a boat like Valgerda, but with a centerboard, I think I would build a Ness Yawl. They are beautiful boats and designed with a centerboard and kick-up rudder. Check out the voyage of my friend Giacomo from London to Istanbul in a Ness Yawl"

Rick Nardone and I have discussed this as well. His solution (unless he sells his boat and the new owner wants something different) is to go with a 4-inch deep keel like the original faerings had, but include the lead ballast into the keel. Since Atkin's lines are true to the original faerings it will need some ballast. Workboat designs need additional ballast because they were designed to carry cargo. I much prefer to have my ballast built into the keel than have it loose in the bilge. Having it in the keel means more room in the boat and less danger of loose lead damaging the boat or the crew in a knockdown. Having the lead lower means better righting moment too.

Valgerda's keel was a hot topic on the Wooden Boat Forum. The thread started in January 2001 and went on until late 2005. ( I'don't think you could go wrong building the keel according to the design. I also think the Vikings knew a thing or two about boats. Whether my solution is a good one or not remains to be seen.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Paint the damn thing!

There are some projects on a boat the will go on for ever if you let them. Such is (was?) the figurehead on my boat. I could not leave it alone! I would walk by the bow of the boat on my way to do something else and grab a carving gouge or my patternmaker's rasp or a scrap of sandpaper and an hour... or two... or three later I would still be at it. I worked like I was in a trance.

There are at least two dangers in this: one is that you don't get anything else done (which happened to me since I was supposed to be building a cradle for my new grandson, Corbin, who came two weeks early) the other is you can get carried away and ruin what you are working on -- a slip of a carving gouge could really have set me back.

I decided today that I would allow my self 30 minutes for some final sanding, then I would paint the damn thing. In the background of this shot you can see the spray paint can containing the primer. Right after I took this picture I finished masking it and primed it. Now I can finally move on to other projects on the boat and finish the cradle.

I missed the first wooden boat show of the season in Depoe Bay so I could go to Washington and see my new grandson. This lets me procrastinate finishing the boat a little longer. I am feeling the pressure to get it done because we are beginning to have some very nice days. Days that would be great for sailing and rowing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Got some finish on the thwarts and combings. I'm trying to make all the mystery mahogany look somewhat coherent.

I had some problem with a batch of epoxy: it did not kick. After three days it was still sticky. Luckily, it wasn't an important joint, just some filler around the base of the figure head. I scraped it all off and mixed another batch, which kicked off like a champ.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Heads and tails

Last weekend I spliced on Ravn's figurehead. I've been putting it off for a couple of reasons. One reason was that I wanted to get the curve of the dragon's neck to flow into the stem. Another concern was just getting a nice-fitting splice so it would be solid. But most of all I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of putting it on at all. A couple of weeks ago I shaped the stern stem and I think it turned out real nice. I simply couldn't go wrong replicating the same shape at the bow.

I guess if you peeled away all the layers of the onion, my real concern was: Would it look goofy? I have no doubt that many will think it does, but I decided I like it. Those who don't, can just go hang.

As I was fairing the neck into the stem I realized that I carved this thing 10 years ago. At the time I had not decided for sure on a design. It's been a long journey.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


A furniture commission has kept me busy in the shop and slowed progress on the boat. I did manage make time to install the rest of the boat furniture, however. I epoxied in the risers for the rowing thwarts and made the thwarts and the mast bench by March 6 when my oldest son, Ethan, and granddaughter, Maddy, visited. I talked them into the photo above.

Atkin said the original faering from which he drew the plans had removable rowing thwarts. "Our forefathers knew a thing or two about making boats handy," he said, so he retained that feature in his design. I determined early on that I would keep that feature as well on Ravn.

What I discovered is that the thwarts are close enough in size that it's easy to mix them up and get them turned around. My solution to that problem was to use a scratch beader to scratch a single bead in the center thwart and a double bead in the forward thwart. I put them on the forward edge. They looked so good that I decided to scratch beads in the mast bench and the "princess seat" as well. It's a nice touch that serves a practical purpose, but it was another unplanned project that took time away from finishing the boat.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Man on the River

Even though we've never met, I feel a special kinship to Giacomo De Stefano. The two of us have developed an on-line friendship spurred by our mutual love of faerings and faering-inspired boats.

Giacomo lives on a boat in Venice. A few years ago he rowed and sailed up the Po River, Italy's largest river, in a Ness Yawl, a boat similar to the one I'm building. He did it "by using only the resources donated to us during the voyage. Its purpose was to make people aware of this river that is dying, and of how to live in a way that is both light and slow."

Now he is engaged in an even more grand project. This time he will go from London to Istanbul by oar and sail with the goal of zero environmental impact. This new journey will be more than 3,200 miles starting in London, going down the River Thames, along the southeastern coast of England, across the English Channel to Calais, through French canals to the Rhine and then the Danube to the Black Sea and then to Istanbul. Giacomo plans to leave London in April 2010 visiting England, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Ukraine and Turkey in about six months.

"There will only be the wind and a sail," he says on his Web site. "All of this not for a sporting achievement but to build a new relationship with nature, water and rivers." And, no doubt, the people he will meet him and help him along the way.

Giacomo views himself as more than just an environmentalist. He defines himself as a “new world traveler.” Like an environmental missionary setting out without purse or script, he will use the “gift economy” and rely on the food and other items given to him to complete his journey. He plans to live aboard his open boat, sleeping under a cotton canvas tent and cooking on board with a small stove made from a used beer keg. He will have a small solar panel on board to charge his telephone and radio. His budget for the trip is 0 Euros.

His 19-foot Ness Yawl is under construction now in Italy in a company's waiting room. Upon its completion, he has an arrangement with a shipping company to have the boat sent to London when the courier has room on a regular run to keep his carbon debt as small as he can.

“I wanted to show that it's possible to travel and have a good time, while respecting nature and helping the local economies," Giacomo said in a Watercraft magazine article. "In 1999, I began to study the way mass tourism is destroying many parts of the planet. There must be a way, I told myself, to travel like Bruce Chatwin, Henry David Thoreau and other interesting people did in the past; a way to move without polluting too much. It's possible to have wonderful holidays, travelling slowly by bicycle, on foot and by boat, meeting people, tasting the local food and following the local customs.”

Giacomo is a great inspiration to me. I think of journeys I can take in Ravn that will build a new relationship with nature and the ocean and inspire me and others. More immediately, Giacomo's pending adventure and his encouragement of my building project has helped me recently as my family experienced some heart ache and as I faced some difficult tasks building Ravn.

Giacomo figures it will take him about a million oar strokes to complete his journey. I wish I could join him for all, or at least part, of that. My thoughts will go out to him each mile of his quest.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Princess Seat

I can think of few things more enjoyable than spending time on the water while rowing face to face with your sweetheart. Rowing face to face with a good friend is a close second. The joy of being in nature, the seclusion of being on a boat together and the inescapable seating arrangement is bound to provoke intimate conversation and closeness. With that in mind, I paid special attention to the design and execution of Ravn's stern seat. I wanted it to be comfortable and inviting with a nice backrest and plenty of style.

In my previous boat, a Chamberlain dory, I added a carved backrest to the stern seat. It was one of the best projects I ever did on that boat. It improved the comfort a great deal and provided some handy storage behind it. A pair of carved dragon heads gave it a throne-like quality and my wife soon dubbed it "the princess seat." (See A Small Swampscott, Sept. 5, 2009 post for a photo.)

I'm happy with how Ravn's princess seat turned out. Today I spent several hours inside the boat sanding and scraping. I took a couple of breaks lounging on the princess seat. It proved to be very comfortable and secure. As I ran my hand over the curved surfaces of the backrest and reclined against the starboard rail, my mind drifted to a time in the not-too-distant future when Ravn will come alive in the water carrying a cargo of conversation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Huginn and Muninn

Each day Odin sends Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory) to fly over Midgard (Middle Earth). The two ravens return and sit on Odin's shoulders whispering in his ears what they have seen.

It's from this Nordic myth I derived my boat's name. In nod to my Danish grandmother, I decided to use the Danish spelling. It also meant I had fewer letters to carve.

Ravens are one of my favorite animals. They are so smart and fun to watch, especially when they are teaching their young in the springtime. It's easy to see why they play an important part in many different cultures. Ravens feature prominently in the culture of Northwest Indigenous people and is even credited with dropping a stone in the ocean that grew into the earth upon which humans live. Raven is known as "the trickster" and is often the main character on Haida totem poles.

It's also just a great name for a black boat!

Stern Combing

The warm rain has returned to the Oregon coast and temperatures in the boat shop are in the 50s, warm enough to epoxy Ravn's stern combing in place.

I had fun carving the name in it and the two ravens. The cold temperatures drove me inside the house to do the carving, which allowed me to enjoy my grandchildren when they visited for a few days. Elijah spent a lot of time playing a video game where he caught fish. "I caught another fish, papa," he would holler from the couch. "What kind?" says I. "Rock fish," he would report. We were both having fun together doing different things.

Years ago I bought a large C clamp for $8 that some welder had given a deeper reach. I've only used it three or four times since then, but when you need it, nothing else will do. The 13 inches of reach was more than enough to clamp the center of the combing to the stern bulkhead. My two largest F clamps had just enough reach to help cement the marriage.

Earlier, while I had some epoxy mixed, I added a little graphite and put a drop in each of the bird's eyes. The next day I pared the epoxy flush with the bird's face for a perfect inlay.