My father was a terrible storyteller. The narrative arc of any tale he was spinning was frequently interrupted by detours back to the start or belated side trips to relevant subtext. I realize now, months after beginning this blog and many too many months removed from my last post that the genesis of this whole tale was never sufficiently explained.
In September of 2011 I took my pulling boat, Herman on a trip through South Puget Sound. The inspiration to build Herman and the idea for this trip came after competing in the Key Peninsula Road Race in the late nineties. During this fairly grueling bike race, while I struggled along at the back of the middle, I spent a great deal too much time thinking and planning and scheming when I would have been better served peddling just a touch faster.
The building of Herman was begun in 2002, but the combination of a mid life re-invention and far too many shiny things allowed for approximately eleven minutes of progress that year and for the years to come. Work resumed during the winter of 2010/11. And after roughly 200 hours, Herman hit the water in May of 2011.
There’s a bounty of subtle beauty in and around the southern end of Puget Sound. Contrary to what is seen further north, the forest descends all the way to the water. Trees, both conifer and deciduous, lean out over the tide line. Beaches are scattered infrequently. Sand is sparse. There is a slowness, a meandering which, from the thwart of a wooden rowboat is just about perfect.
I planned a four day journey. One day on the east side of the Key Peninsula, rowing in and around the village of Home, and then three days to circumnavigate Harstine Island. The second night was spent on Hope Island, just seemingly a stone’s throw both from the nasty ass sprawl of the Olympia suburbs and the serene emptiness of Squaxin Island.
Upon arriving at Hope Island several canoes lined the southwest beach. One of them appeared abandoned. Two of them looked shabby but useful. After pulling Herman above the high tide line I began walking around. In the uplands sat what appeared to be one of the canoes’ owners. When I asked if he paddled over from Olympia in one of the canoes he gave me a slightly aggrieved yes. I thought it odd the question annoyed him. We chatted for a bit and then I walked on.
After a bit of exploring I returned to Herman and moved to a beach further east. There I saw pulled ashore a lovely Adirondack Guideboat. A Guideboat is a sleek, sixteen foot, canoe like (to the untrained eye) rowing boat. A few minutes later Bruce, the annoyed un -owner of a not- canoe walked down to the beach.
We quickly established that the Guideboat was his and the cause of his irritation was due to everywhere he rowed he got asked about his not-canoe. After seeing me rowing along in a craft that to the general population is a fairly obtuse vessel and seemingly being ignorant of his boat’s design, he was more disappointed than irritated.
That night and the following day we talked about boats, among other things. It’s inevitable that when boat people converge, talk eventually tilts towards; “The next boat”. As it turned out, Bruce and I had similar ideas for our next boats. Boats that could be rowed or sailed equally well. Boats that didn’t need auxiliary power. Boats that would demand only minutes at the launch ramp. And boats that are pointy at both ends.
As we rowed towards what would be the end of my trip and the middle of Bruce’s, I was well on my way towards new boat fantasy land. As luck would have it so was Bruce.