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Week 21: And Then the Wind Blew In…

Some of you will recall when school was cancelled for “snow days.” That white fluffy stuff that rendered driveways and streets treacherous until a shovel and plow were brought to bear. This is not a common problem here in the great Northwet. Oh, we get plenty of liquid green and lawns that come to life long before expected but snow days are not on school agendas. Wind, on the other hand, can wreck the same havoc.

So it was during week 21 at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding that it came to an abrupt halt. Only days away from putting whiskey planks on the Sea Beast and Felicity Ann, Mother Nature decided to be oh so cruel. (Funny, I never had similar sentiments when classes consisted of calculus, philosophy, and other mental challenges—not to say our current endeavor does not tax that gray matter between one’s ears. The end result just seems more rewarding.)

In any case, we made it to Wednesday, complete with Zen master Sean Koomen’s thoughts on caulking, decking and more epoxy before the wind blew through. There is now a steering wheel in render for the Philbrick and interior sanding is taking place on our submarine. (Still not a cramped space I would want to inhabit.)

Oh, and in between the small craft crew came up to spend time on a long-board sanding party on the Sea Beast led by the Zen master himself. It looked like a conga line cloaked in a layer of fine dust. Sean makes for a great MC and an object lesson for the why small craft folks want to stay away from large craft. We think this kind of labor is actually amusing.


Meanwhile, sunshine had managed to pierce clouds and final planks were being carved for Felicity Anne and Sea Beast, when, out of the blue, the wind came in.And not with a gentle nudge.

No small number of us woke to dark skies, alarm clocks that weren’t, and news of no school. (Damn cell phones never die, unless you forget to plug them in…then all bets are off.) Which begs the thought, what to do when class is cancelled and the power is off in one’s workshop?

Well, there is always driving out to Port Hadlock just to see what has come loose in the breeze. As you might expect, an errant sailboat or fishing craft is apt to pull off anchor in such conditions as it was blowing 60mph. But, who would have thought the Community Boat Project would lose its roof? Or at least part of its roof.

Back in the fall—some of you may recall—no small number of we wooden boatbuilders spent a Saturday putting new roofing over an expanded set of boat arches at the Community Boat Project. A great chance to assist with a worthy cause and grumble about our recent school challenges out of instructor “ear sight.” (Students always grump—just part of life a teacher has to accept, regardless of subject or their pedagogical talents.) Quiet mumbling aside, we had a good time installing about 1,500 square feet of plastic roofing.

All of which came off in the wind. A real object lesson for any future boatbuilder.

You can ward off Mom Nature but she always wins in the end. Be it rain, sun, water, or wind, she figures out a way to defeat the best-laid plans of mice or men. That’s what we found on Thursday morning. Fifteen-hundred square feet of roofing material peeled off like a skin from your favorite mandarin orange. Always easier to peel than reapply.

Like wooden boatbuilding, a little experience goes a long way.

Pull out phone (recall they still work despite the absence of electricity) and here comes the cavalry. It took a collection of we boat students and local volunteers about four hours, but the roof is back on and lunch was served as befitting a traditional barn building. All shipshape by Friday morning. Wind or no wind.

All of which left time to wander through Port Townsend’s boat haven and wonder about projects people bring ashore. Looking though the yard one finds a 50 foot mast being carved to form and a fleet of traditional motor or sail craft being readied for Spring launches. A future of work waiting to happen—wind storm or no wind storm.

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Eric Anderson is a retired Air Force officer who can be found puttering
in his shop when not scribbling on the keyboard. A new resident of Port Townsend,
he is an avid sailor, struggling carpenter, and would-be writer.