Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nordlandsbåt; krumstevning

All photos courtesy Iain Oughtred

In a discussion with acclaimed small boat designer Iain Oughtred about the taxonomy of certain Norwegian boat types, he casually mentioned that he was involved with a Nordlandsbåt that had recently been discovered on Skye, his home. Piqued my interest, he did. After some wrestling with google translate we more or less resolved that issue and Iain responded to my request for some info on the 'rescue operation'. It's a rather interesting story.
Iain contacted Gunnar Eldjarn in Norway to ask for help both in identifying the boat and how to proceed. Gunnar builds traditional Norwegian boats and his website is here. Gunnar identified the boat as a Krumstevning, which he elaborates a bit below. He further named it a Ranværingsboat, a boat built in the Rana area, a little more that halfway up Norway's west coast. They are dating the boat anywhere from 1840 to 1890, pending further investigation. Iain had originally envisioned a restoration, but Gunnar went on to say:

"It is a krumstevning. A treroring and has had six oars.
A small treroring like this is actually a 2 1/2 room boat with 3 rooms. This is not very special, but is a northern Norwegian specialty.
I see now that it has a very special keel, a gatakjøl which has both the keel an the keelstrake in one peace. This I have heard about, but never seen on a small boat like this.
Then, most of the strakes are probably hewn, and almost impossible to shift, at least very difficult.

I would actually be careful and keep the old boat without much repair, and also use it very little. All the old material is brittle and cant take much beating. Making a copy is a good idea. But it is not a very easy boat to build. But if the old boat is kept untouched, 100 copies may be built and used. If the old one is much repaired, the original is gone. The boat should be thoroughly documented, lots of good pictures, measurements etc.
The boat is worth a lot, not much money, but as a cultural document.
Please take care of the boat.!!!!"

The 18' x 54" boat is on the grounds of large estate in southern Skye, a district named Sleat, and the owner contacted Iain at the urging of one Fergus Walker, who I've written about before. Lucilla (said owner), Iain, and some other interested parties are in the process of securing a tent to protect the boat from the elements and commencing preservation strategies. A little more from Iain, first a portion of his reply to Gunnar:

"Many thanks for your message. It is a valuable contribution to our quest, and we are privileged to have this authoratative statement which confirms our feeling that this is a rare and special boat that deserves to be cared for properly. And measured up, recorded, photographed, drawn up as Bernhard F would do. That will be my job.

Plus this to me:

"Lucilla wants to keep her close to home, ultimately on display with all relevant information presented in English, Norwegian and Gaelic.

I have found a nice board of Scots Pine to replace the missing capping piece on the starboard gunwale. And some scraps of oak for missing and damaged bits of frames. We will have tollepinnar (thole pins) for the
keip/'kabes'/oarlocks. I got the Norwegian Varnol thin penetrating oil. I hope that Mark Stockl, the boatbuilder from Ullapool, may be able to do much of this work, after setting up the cradle, which will support the hull comfortably all round. She may even need to gently settle into her rightful shape before new pieces are fitted!

I do not think the boat will actually be used. She's quite fragile. But hopefully we could just launch her and take some nice photographs." I will see if Lucilla is up for asking Gunnar about a replica that she can play with.

Iain has consented to keeping me updated on progress made good on the 'bonny wee boat' and
I'll be letting you know.

Original article posted @ 70.8% by Thomas Armstrong

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Sunday tour of the Mystic Seaport Campus, ala WoodenBoat Festival 20

Jon Harris and his Chesapeake Light Craft team brought a lot of boats, including the lovely Chester Yawl above. The sail rig belongs to another boat, the Chester is purely for rowing.

The Wooden Boat Rescue Foundation had a presence. Here's a restoration in progress, the boat is a 1931 Clipper 17, an early one design sloop.

Arey's Pond Boat Yard brought this Arey's Pond Daysailer, designed by Antonio Dias.

Jada shows the innovative winged rudder Tony brought to this design.
Read about the development of this design here, in Tony's words.


The intriguing Reciproa steam launch

Owner/builder Kelly Anderson explaining her details. She burns wood and is almost entirely handmade.
Mr Anderson, I may have someone interested in purchasing your launch, please contact me via email, found in the top left corner of this weblog, just under the header.

Daniel Noyes brought one of his very sweet dories.

Gannon & Benjamin, possibly more widely known and respected for larger projects also build lots of smaller boats. This year they showed up with Minnehaha. Looks like one of their Bella's

Eventually I caught up with Tony Dias, blue shirt, and we hung out a bit. Though we have had a lot of correspondence, this is our first meeting.

It was nice to visit with Med and Mo Chandler of Ships Coy Forge again. They have successfully transitioned from PA to New Hampshire and are going strong.

Tony insisted on showing me their rigging knives. This one is Med's brother knife.

Fine detail on the back edge of the blade. These two are carving out a name for themselves in the Maritime ironmongery business.

Tony pointed out this unusual cabin top, something he'd had a hand in.

A little later we ran into Lance Lee, about to leave for home but here engaged with George Rockwood aboard George's Morning Light.

Morning Light with George, Lance and Tony aboard.

Here's WoodenBoat Senior Editor Tom Jackson opens a demonstration on rigging, one of the last demo's for the weekend.

Matt Otto, head rigger at the Seaport, led the demonstration on rigging. Many of the demo's over the weekend, collected together, gave a detailed account of the boat building process, from lofting, through planking, to rigging.

On my way out, I could not resist this charming little sailing canoe.

Butternut was designed and built by Capt. Pete Culler.

Dessert as offered up by Mystic Seaport.

Mystic opened the warehouse of over 400 boats not on public display to anyone interested.

I was, and it was a rare treat to visit the 'archives'.

all photos copyright Thomas Armstrong

That about wraps it up, hearty thanks to both WoodenBoat Magazine and Mystic Seaport. Indeed, I'd like to thank everyone whose hard work made this event possible, those who were exhibitors, those who brought boats, those who shared their expertise so freely, all who, working together, make this such a great event. See ya next year. I'd also like to specially thank John Eastman and his crew for making this a special weekend with the Icon Boats, bringing them down from Maine, and Michelle Corbeil, Public Relations Director at WoodenBoat for arranging press credentials.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Built it Myself! and Family Boatbuilding, more from Mystic and the WoodenBoat Festival

I Built it Myself!

Robert Pulsch of Port Monmouth NJ took top honors in the Concours self built category. Not hard to see why.

Roberta P is a gaff rigged catboat and an early BB Crowningsheild design.

Robert (on the left in the light green shirt and into his 80's) allows he spent about 2yrs. building her to plans obtained from Mystic Seaport.

He also admits to working on the boat right up to putting her on the trailer, a common theme with the homebuilt crowd.

Roberta P is 22'4 0n deck and 14'2 waterline. Beam is 7'9, she draws 4'6 with the board down and 1'6 with it up, carries 311 sq. ft. of sail and has a displacement of 2613. I'll hazard a guess that as of this writing, she's been baptized!

Gary Stephenson's Adirondack Guide Boat.

This was a 10yr. 1000hr. traditional build to a Dwight Grant design, using eastern white cedar planks and sawn frames, looks like white oak.

The construction method was new to me, Gary called it 'modified carvel', creating a smooth hull but employin a lap and gain as in lapstrake building, no caulking between planks. All copper fastened. Shown above are some handmade specialized tools Gary made for the build.

Sean Null is building these beautiful boards in Philadelphia, not far from me.

These boards are strip built over internal frames, so hollow. Technically a boat, an elegantly minimal one. Given Sean's proximity, you'll probably see more on this.

Here's a reportedly immaculate Goat Island Skiff which I missed, not so for Christophe Matson from whom I am borrowing this photo. Thanks Christophe! The boat was built by Paul, from CT. and finished with a bright interior and a 'jet black exterior'.

photo courtesy Christophe Matson

Family Boatbuilding

Under the big top, here's a Sassafras canoe from CLC.

There were several skin on frame kayaks being finished as well. I'm not sure what design or who led this group, can anyone enlighten me?

A Chesapeake Light Craft Sassafras Canoe

I counted 16, plus 1 still in the tent

Quite an impressive lineup.

Clint Chase came down with his Goat Island Skiff to lend support to Mik Storer and led the building of three
Echo Bay Dory Skiffs. One seen on the right. From Clint's blog: "We (myself, Christophe Matson, Eric Risch the designer of the EBDS, and Steven Bauer) had a wonderful time guiding three wonderful families through the construction of 3 beautiful Echo Bay Dory Skiffs this past Friday through Sunday." According to Clint, all three families launched on Sunday afternoon with nary a leak!

In the parking lot, next to my car, one of the kayaks being loaded for the trip home.

all photos copyright Thomas Armstrong unless noted otherwise

These two events, for me at least, represent the heart of the festival and what makes it great, real participation on an individual level by non professional boat lovers.
Interestingly, every I Built it Myself! exhibitor I spoke with said they had been working on their craft right up to the minute they left for Mystic. Devoted. Sadly, I did not speak with any of the family boatbuilders, but one can easily imagine and assume their pride and delight. More to follow, this is always a very full weekend.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lance Lee Tribute at the WoodenBoat Festival, Mystic Seaport

Lance Lee Tribute

Carl Cramer begins the Tribute

In the center, Jon Wilson and Matt Murphy. Jon is the founder of WoodenBoat Magazine and Matt is Editor.

Bruce Halabisky, more below...

Eric Stockinger, Executive Director of the Apprenticeshop

Peter Neill

Carl Cramer and Lance Lee


Icon Boats


Loyaute is one of the 72 Bantry Bay gigs currently participating in the Atlantic Challenge

Rowing stations and stowed rig

Loyaute showed up in my campground the next morning.

Norwegian type, built at the Apprenticeshop about 25 years ago, quite the beauty.

Daniel Bennett and Miriam Feinstein bring her in.

A lovely Sognabåt

Trem, a scaled down Tremolino

Tremolino was Joseph Conrad's choice for smuggling arms into Catalonia.

Conrad wrote a book about this enterprise, titled Tremolino.


Lestabåt Varin

Varin is Norwegian type, a square rigged fishing boat with obvious Viking longboat influence evident.

Madigan is a Gil Smith Long Island catboat, and seemingly Carl Cramers' most adored.

Lancing Madura is a traditional Indonesian fishing vessel, a Gole'an.

all photos copyright Thomas Armstrong

I would be remiss not to mention John Eastman (ex apprentice who helps Lance in various ways)
and his great crew of folks who ferried down the various 'Icon Boats' from Maine to Mystic. These folks graciously gave of their time and cash to get the boats down, had to pay their way in, were denied their promised dinner until later in the evening and really only were given scant recognition for their efforts, no doubt this was all due to miscommunication. I was privileged to get to know this crew as we waited for proceedings to begin, and indeed they are fine lot. Thanks to you all!

First of all, let me apologize for the poor quality of the photos inside the tent at the tribute dinner. I am a flash snob. I dislike the way flash flattens and distorts, and I did not have my tripod, so the images are rather grainy. It shouldn't matter though, as the experience of Lance's tribute is more about substance than aesthetics.
Lance Lee is a legendary figure in the wooden boat revival and the implementation of boat building as a tool to involve youth in experiential education. He's the founder and original driving force of both the Apprenticeshop in ME, and the Atlantic Challenge with it's global appeal. There's also the Tremolino Project. Lance is what I would call a practical visionary, a man of great vision able to turn his visionary ideals into real, effective projects. His life and accomplishments are staggering, and there's a wealth of information on the web. His guiding lights have nominally been the work and life of Kurt Hahn and the works and philosophy of Joseph Conrad, to which I would add his experiences growing up in the Bahamas, on Man O' War Island. Surrounded by boatbuilding and living from the land and the sea, Lance learned a work ethic that has served him well to this day. His life story is intriguing, extraordinary and inspiring, but also well outside the scope of this blog post. It is a rich spider web of globally interconnected initiatives yielding far reaching results. I'll likely explore this man's life further in the future with multiple posts, but for now will limit myself to the proceedings last week at Mystic and some words about the Icon boats, it was quite a night.
First of all, the evening was steered by an exuberant and enthusiastic Carl Cramer, publisher of WoodenBoat. There were several introductions by various folk who'd been touched in one way or another by Lance's life and adventures, including a cousin. Most interesting for me was Bruce Haibisky, Apprenticeshop grad and co-author with Lance of "Twice Around the Loggerhead", an investigation of the whaling culture in the Azores and beautifully illustrated by Yvon LeCorre.
Bruce has been involved with Lance for the last 20 yrs. plus, over half his life. He's been involved with the Atlantic Challenge, the Tremolino Project among other things and says that the underlying philosophy of all Lances projects 'reveals whats good in us". Bruce is currently completing a circumnavigation in his 1950 John Atkin Vixen. Eric Stocking also attended the Apprenticeshop and is now the executive officer for them. He reported that the shop had launched six vessells in the week prior to the tribute and manages to get 150 kids on the water every summer. Lee Scarbrough pointed out that due to the success of the Atlantic Challenge there are at least 72 Bantry Bay gigs worldwide representing over 200,000 hours of building and learning, experiential education. Peter Neill, Director of Ocean Classroom spoke passionately about Lance and his initiatives. His key phrase for Lee is as an enabler. Citing a project in the Azores that built 12 Azorean Whaleboats, Peter said this project had enabled thousands of Azorean kids to grasp their heritage in a very real way and went on to declare that Lance's education model emphasized competence, work, ability and service. He labeled Lance Lee a 'unique enabler' shaping 'truly able hands'.

Then Lance. Sputtering, charismatic, a joy to behold, a tour de force. Early in his ramble Mr Lee made reference to how he's been told you can't 'put those two possums in the same sack', meaning the natural world and philosophy. For the rest of the evening he pointed to how he'd done just that. I don't have a transcript of his talk but will illustrate the gist of it by sharing several key phrases or epithets. First Lance noted the need to avoid 'the Tyranny of the Boat', which I interpret as meaning the 'Icon' boats as incubators for building not just boats but incorporating the experience into an 'apprenticeship to life'. From Kurt Hahn came the statement 'training through the sea'. Lance admonishes us to 'get out, go deep, come back and help', and to 'make it or repair it, don't buy it.' He says he's endeavoring to create 'young turks', which fits. Lance Lee sums it all up in a typically terse utterance, priorities are 'aquisition of experience and aquisition of knowledge.
IconBoats came about during a project in Leningrad, a reference to the spiritually significant small paintings. I'm assuming that's likewise for the boats, that these are boats having a spiritual resonance for Lee. It's not too difficult to see why. In order, above from top to bottom they are:

Loyaute, a Bantry Bay gig, the ttpe of boat used in the Atlantic Challenge

A small Scandinavian type built at the Apprenticeshop about 25 years ago. Daniel Bennett called her a Sonjiasbat, but I cannot confirm this. Most likely a type of Faering.

Trem, a scaled down Temolino

Varin, a Lestabåt: There's a great article on sailing this square sail replica in WB 95.

Madigan, a Gil Smith catboat

Lanceng Madura, an Indonesian Gole'an

On Sunday, in the company of my friend Antonio Dias I had the chance to ask Lance about one of my 'Icon' boats, Eliboubane, owned and sailed by Yvon LeCorre, drawn by Francois Vivier. A French sardine boat. Lance's reply was 'meeting that boat changed my life, completely'. Hopefully we'll discover how and why soon.

Enjoy, sorry about the delay but I've had some personal issues which stood in the way of a more timely post.

A special thanks to Ben Fuller for pointing to certain errors and omissions. Thanks Ben.
Ben Fuller is currently the curator at the Penobscot Marine Museum after serving as the head curator for Mystic Seaport for 13 years.

Just recieved from Lin Pardy this text of a letter the Pardy's sent to Lance on the ocassion of his tribute. Carl Cramer read this out at the beginning of the tribute but I didn't have it, so wrote to Lin who sent it on to me. Thanks Lin and Larry.

Tribute – Lance Lee

The people who have been taught by Lance Lee may never build their own boat, nor voyage across oceans. But each of them have been empowered by realizing that everything that man has built started out first as a dream, then became a plan. The guiding force that turned the plan into a reality was the greatest tool of all – the human hand. That is why we say, when you teach a person how to use simple tools, you give them the gift of their hands. When you then take them out on the water in a boat they helped create, you give them the gift of dreams.

Our congratulations to Lance, he has opened many doors for young people. I bet they tell their children and their grandchildren about the skills they learned from Lance and about the first time they got a wood plane, chisel or hammer to do exactly what they wanted it to do.

Larry and Lin Pardey
From Kawau Island,
New Zealand