Monday, April 23, 2012

Horses for Courses: Catboats

I came across a piece of writing recently that set me off on a course for this week’s design. Or rather I came across it again—given the number of times I have looked through The Catboat Book, I can’t imagine that I could have missed it every time. I have noticed that the resonance a particular piece of writing has as much to do with the combination of life experiences you bring to it as it does with the originality, quality, and clarity of thought it brings to you. 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It can be easy to become separated from the fact that the boats we build go on to have lives outside of the boatyard—they are no longer a boat builder’s infinite series of tasks, but instead become a mode of transportation, a piece of art, someone’s dream. So it is special when the people who build the boats get to experience them on the water. It gives us perspective on our jobs, a bigger picture of our work that we might not get otherwise.

In 2008, Rockport Marine was rewarded a contract from the state of South Carolina to build a replica of a 17th century trading ketch for display in a historic settlement in Charleston. Charles Towne Landing has many displays of life of the early settlers, and the boat would be part of their interpretive exhibit at the state park.

The build started at the beginning of January, and we delivered the boat in October. The delivery was done with crew from the boatyard, mostly carpenters, who had had experience sailing traditional wooden boats. I was lucky enough to be one of the delivery crew, and I recently came across my journal from the trip. I came to Rockport Marine through a love of sailing and wooden boats, and this trip reconnected me to that love. Looking back at the journal and my pictures, at the beginning of a new sailing season, helps me to remember why I do this work, beyond the endless lists of maintenance tasks, things to buy, and problems to fix.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

LAYLA, a Take On John Alden's "Miniature Ocean-Going Tug"

“Layla and Majnun” or “Layla and the Madman” is the story of a Bedouin poet and the woman he loved. They lived in the 7th century under the rule of the Umayyad Dynasty in what is now Iraq. Consumed by his love for the astonishingly beautiful Layla, Majnun set out to woo her with his poems. Local traditions forbade the match however and Layla married another man. In his anguish Majnun lost his grip on reality and abandoned his family and community to wander in the surrounding desert, reciting his poems to the sand. Majnun’s body was discovered in 688 AD at the site of his beloved Layla’s grave. Before he died he had carved three verses of poetry into a rock nearby. 

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

GYRE: Ohlson Cruiser Transformed

Ideally, custom boats are built to perfectly express and mold to the character of the person using them. In the case of GYRE, a restoration we began in the fall, we faced a different challenge: shaping an existing boat to meet a client’s needs. Our client bought a used, wooden cruising boat and asked us to transform her into a comfortable daysailer. To this end, the cabin house was cut back by a few feet. 
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