My Wood Boat Problem

Hi! My name is Pat and I have a wood boat problem. Not a little delicate refined one either. No cedar strip canoes or tiny little sailboats or dinghies or the glossy gorgeous creations that sail the warmer climes or race across lakes . . . though they all have their pull.

No, my wood boat problem is far less distilled, more hardcore.  My poison of choice is West Coast workboats, more specifically the wood fishing boats of the Pacific Northwest.  Builders with names like Frostad, Sagstad, Grandy, Tripple & Everett, Tacoma Boat. Designs by William Garden and Ed Monk Sr.

These wooden boats are solid and functional built for a solid, functional purpose. They smell of decades of diesel, fish gurry, and unwashed bodies collapsing into their cramped bunks after a long exhausting day on deck.  It is a distilled essence that I feel in my bones.

I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into other types of vessels, the runabouts with glossy finishes you could drown in, the delicate framing and planking of a little eight foot yacht tender, the silent complicated artistry of a sailboat.  But when I really want to lose myself, to let go of the logical sensible responsible part of my brain, wooden fishing boats of the Pacific Northwest is where I turn.

It started out innocently enough, I grew up in southeastern Alaska the son of a machine shop owner that worked on the local fishing fleet.  Wood fishing boats were everywhere.  At that time I could take or leave them, they had no pull.  As I got older the first commercial fishing boat I owned was made of wood but it was just a means to an end.

Then I started dabbling in fiberglass boats.  At first I just owned one, a 34 footer.  When I left commercial fishing to work in a shipyard I became the paint and fiberglass guy.  I made a lot of boats shiny and patched a lot of holes and cracks, but it wasn’t something I dreamed about at night. When I bought my own shipyard I had some guys on the crew that were doing wood. They let me experiment and try it out. I knew I could control it though. I had it handled, all figured out. But soon two planks became six, then 24. Next was a bow stem followed by sternpost - but I had it under control

Now I'm not so sure.  I still do paint and a little fiberglass but is only to fill in space until the next wood boat project and to finance my own wood boat habit.  I have a 42 foot Ed Monk Sr. designed cruiser built by Tripple & Everett in 1962.  It’s yellow cedar on oak frames.  Strictly speaking it is not a commercial fishing boat but it's got the bones, the lines and the lineage.  It needs a lot of work.  I have it hauled at my shipyard and it's almost a plank a week habit now.   This fall I have a 36 foot Canadian built wood troller coming in for garboard planks and the top two strakes on the starboard side midships to bow.  It's going to be a fun project, and it will be over too soon.  But I've got the Monk cruiser to work on and I started a little ten foot rowboat with oak frames and red cedar planking.

My name is Pat and I have a wood boat problem.

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