Welcome! Here in the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Boat Show is long over. We had a great time visiting with everyone who dropped by. We took our usual quota of orders and have been busy building boats for late spring delivery. If you need a boat for your summer adventures, now is the time to give us a call; our order book fills up fast once the weather warms up.

We have a lot of news for you this month, and hope you enjoy reading this newsletter as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Boat Show!

Not everyone lives in or near Seattle so we took some photos of our display booth. As you can see we had a little more space this year, so we were able to stretch out and show our whole line. The booth was in a great spot and by the end of the week we were nearly hoarse. But it’s always worth it just to hear folks’ stories.


The Point Defiance and a rowing Melonseed. Both boats have a beautiful custom blue stripe which really stands out.


Our new sailing Melonseed with a lug rig and a wooden mast.


A Captain


From left to right, the Jersey Skiff, the sailing Melonseed, and in the front, a rowing Melonseed.

We had a great time, thank you all of you who dropped by to chat. We love to hear your boating stories. If you didn’t get a chance to put in your order, drop us a line. The time is now for summer boating fun!

New Sailing Melonseed!

Well, this was the day that every boat builder dreams about: the launch of a new boat. We took our brand new Melonseed down to the launch at Gig Harbor and set about to see whether the boat measured up to all our computer-aided drawings, head-scratchings, and bar-napkin scribbles.

All small boats are a compromise in one aspect or another. For this boat, we wanted a rig that would allow us to keep the dual sliding seats clear of the necessary sailing gear, and yet have a boat that was fun to sail as well.

We have mentioned before that we chose a balanced lug rig for the sailing Melonseed, and on paper the boat looked perfect. But how would theory hold up in practice? Well, we had to find out how she sailed, and every boat builder dreams about such a day. We know that we did everything right, but small boats as John Gardner used to say, are in practice often different than in theory.

This boat, as you can see, lived up to the theory, and then some. Even with very little wind she scooted across the bay. With the wide deck, there was no problem with sitting anywhere in the boat, no water was splashing up into the boat. The helm is remarkably neutral, we took our hands off the tiller and the boat ever-so-gently — over a period of a minute – headed up into the wind. Now that is a balanced helm! Why is that important? A rudder, when it is not pointing directly forward, is nothing but a giant brake on the boats forward momentum. Yet given no helm, the boat should want to head into the wind, not away, so that unattended it will sit quietly until the helmsperson gets back to the stick.

We think that this boat is a remarkable design. With the longer open cockpit it’s somewhat different than the classic Jersey Skiff, but that’s necessary for the tandem rowing. We kept the same wide side decks as the Jersey Skiff, and the lower freeboard allows for low windage and yet great floatation when it heels. We think that you will like the simplicity of the rig as well as it’s dual rowing capability.

Falk rigging up the halyard.

Unpacking the brand spanking new mainsail and spars.

Haul up that halyard!

A closeup of the enclosed cockpit in the bow.

Into the water!

And she’s off on a close hauled port reach!

Back across the bay on a close port reach.

Two happy boat builders on a broad port reach.

A run downwind down the bay.

Two very happy boat builders! Notice that there are almost no ripples on the water from the wind and that this boat is sliding right along.

Well this boat sails like a dreamboat! This is a wonderful boat, a fast sailer, a fast dual rowing boat. What else could you ask for?

If this boat sounds like just the boat you’ve been hunting for, give us a call and you can be one of the first owners of a very custom sailing Melonseed! Contact Us!

Row 4 Hope!

Well we have picked up another trans Atlantic Ocean rower, Paul Ridley. Paul has a custom boat and chose our Ocean Gliders for his rowing seat rig.

Paul’s row, nicknamed Project Bigwater, will begin in the Canary Islands in early December, 2008. With only oars to power him, he’ll set off from Africa to South America, crossing the whole of the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way he’ll row 2,950 nautical miles and spend between 60 and 80 days and nights at sea, landing in the Caribbean in February, 2009. While at sea, Paul will sleep in an enclosed cabin not much bigger than himself, and row 10-12 hours each day. Though Paul will be in contact with a land-based support team via satellite phone, he’ll be entirely alone on the open ocean with no chase boat or means of resupply. Paul’s journey will be truly solo and unassisted.

Painting the interior of the boat.

Paul will be sleeping in the back and storing supplies in the bow compartment.

The sliding seat rails installed.

The row is an opportunity for Paul to make a significant contribution to cancer research in memory of his mother. If you are looking for a good cause to help out, be sure to checkout Paul’s website. He’s planning on raising $500,000 to help search for the cure to cancer. http://www.RowForHope.com


Minor Disaster Strikes!

We got a phone call from Erden last week, and it appears that his sliding seat rails broke! We of course wondered why he didn’t just use the second spare seat we built for him; it turns out he left it in Seattle! So let’s back up a bit and explain how we got here….

Erden and Gig Harbor Boat Works hooked up at the Seattle Boat Show last year. We agreed to build him a dual sliding seat rig because his boat is long enough for dual racers. He intends to sell the boat after all his rowing is finished, so the dual rig makes the boat that much more valuable.

To make his deadline to leave for San Francisco, we built the sliding seat rig using his measurements. However, when we went to put it in the boat, we realized that Erden had a foot control for the rudder right in the way. Which meant the rails couldn’t be installed to the planned width. That also meant the fiberglass seat platforms wouldn’t fit. We wanted to fabricate new fiberglass platforms to fit the dimensions required to clear his foot control, but there wasn’t time. The platform is important because it suppports both the horizintal and vertical rollers plus the rowers weight and inertia. We had some anodized aluminum box stock around the shop which we cut to create a platform and fit within the two days we had left before his boat was shipped to San Francisco for his departure across the Pacific Ocean.

Erden took off for San Francisco, only to sit on the dock for a month! We could have done all kinds of things for that boat in this time. But each day was only a day away and the time slipped away. Plus, none of us knew that the currents would conspire to keep Erden at sea so long. The way he had originally planned his trip, by now he should be walking on the shores of Australia!

As you can see from the photos, the salt water and the dissimilar metals have set up an electrolic action and corroded the box stock to the point of failure. Arghh!

When we first read Erden’s blog about swapping in the replacement bearings, we were thinking, “Huh? Why doesn’t he just swap in the spare seat?” So now we know, and so do you.

Any of these sorts of disasters come from not one failure, but a series of left turns, any which had we gone right instead of left at any one of them, life would have been fine. We built a spare, which was left home; we rushed the fit, but we had time to do it over. Even so the seat lasted for over 8,000 miles! Well, for a long time fishermen used fixed seats, and the Atlantic Ocean has been rowed by people on fixed seats. When Erden hits the shores of Australia, we’ll work something out.

Erden has since fashioned a fixed seat from his chart table. It works, but we understand that he misses his sliding seat a lot. Well it will make the movie that much better when it comes out after all of this is over.

The one truly amazing thing from all of this was finding ourselves talking to a man in the middle of the Pacific, and hearing him as clearly as calling for pizza at the corner store. The world really is a smaller place than it used to be.

You can follow his trip here http://www.around-n-over.org


8000 miles of sliding seat work, plus salt water and stainless bolts on alumimum box stock.


The replacement bearings, stored in a nice water tight tube.


The seat rail where it


Detached seat rail assembly


A man who knows that he should have packed one more spare.


The chart table as a fixed seat.

We are vicariously enjoying Erden’s trip and welcome his regular updates. If you enjoy them as much as we do, be sure to sign up for the notifications on his website.

If you can afford to give a donation to his trip, we are sure that it will be very much appreciated. He’s been on the ocean for 6 months now and we have no doubt that he will complete his journey. It’s also very evident from his journal updates that he knows how much he owes to all of his sponsors who have helped him along on this journey.

We will continue to provide updates in our newsletters as we receive updates from Erden.

Roz Savage Rows the Pacific!

Roz Savage is currently in Woodward, California working on stabilizing her boat. Apparently her custom, extra-heavy oars, plus the electronics, etc. made the boat a bit top-heavy so she’s working on adding ballast to the boat. Anyone who knows where to get inexpensive lead shot (fishing weights?) for her boat, please contact her through her web site.

You can of course go directly to her website and sign up for updates. And as we hear from Roz we will add stuff to our newsletters. Roz Savage Rows the Pacific

From our Mailbag

Our Mailbag again has been overflowing so we’re sure you will enjoy reading about these adventures as much as we have.

Jersey Skiff

This fellow used to row lifeguard type boats on the East Coast. Sounds like fun, chasing whales in a 17. rowboat, huh? 17. Jersey Skiff, open version, no frills.

One of our Jersey Skiff owners from Hawaii has been out scouting whales! Over a week or so we got this series of photos and this note from him.

Hi Dave!

I have been using the rig five days a week for four to five miles a day. We were close to whales once. They are not many here yet. It was more than exciting to get around some whales in that little boat. Sometimes I wish I went with the dory but I really have gotten used to the skiff so it works well for us and I am really happy with it. It is rough enough occasionally they you appreciate the length, it does not hop like my little boat in NJ. We are using eight and halfs in the stern and nine and halfs in the bow with narrow blades in the bow for E. and I have the wider carlise blades in the stern. She is nowhere near as strong so the narrow blades make up lot of the difference and I take longer strokes so the eight and halfs make that compensation work as well.

[click thumbnails for larger view gallery]

Check out these shots from today, these three whales swam under us, came up about fifteen feet away and than dove. I actually pulled the oar out of the water. Bob R.

All we can say is boy! Do we wish we could go whale watching like this around here.

Whitehall 14

One of our customers who is a member of the Traditional Small Craft Association while on an outing on Lake Union, which is in Seattle, took this rowing video of another of our customers.

Looks like a lot of fun to us!

16ft Melonseed

We sold one of our Melonseed boats off the floor at the end of the boat show. Normally we don’t do this because we lose our demo boat. But this customer had to have one so what could we do?

Hi Dave,

We made it to Vancouver okay! Melonseed didn’t like to go over 60, so we drove in the right lane on Interstate 5 and did just fine. A few snow squalls, but that didn’t slow us down. It just slowed everybody down to our speed!

Your man who helped us load the boat on the car is a good man. He knew what he was doing and he secured the boat to the roof rack so well that we never had to touch the straps to re-adjust the load. We had a minor problem of the boat twisting to starboard on the rack, but the bow only moved over a few inches and we only had to shove it back in line twice, at places we planned to stop for coffee or gas anyway. The problem was created by the placement of the BMW tow hitch, which screws into the front bumper on starboard side about half-way out from the center. Whenever the boat rocked on the roof rack, the bow would work very slightly to the right. BMW also has a port on the rear bumper for attachment of a screw-in tow-hitch eye-bolt (also on starboard half-way out from the center). If I’d had another tow hitch bolt we could have tied down another line from the stern of the boat and we would have had no shifting at all, I think.

No problem at the border. Thanks for the excellent documentation on the boat.

When we arrived at Vancouver it was dark and snowing heavily. We will wait until tomorrow to move the boat to Jericho Sailing Centre. In the meantime Melonseed rests on top of my car in the nice dry & warm underground parking lot of our condominium.


How long is a Melonseed? Well longer than a BMW 321i!


How wide is a Melonseed? Well wider than a BMW 321i!

Thanks again, Dave, for a fine-looking boat. R.

So that’s all the news for now. We hope to hear from you soon. We’ll be busy working on our next newsletter as well as your boats. So if email is slow, please call.