Well it’s the middle of another Polar Vortex and snow-blowing has replaced sailing for the time being. In that the -35 degree wind chill makes it hard to think about being out on Green Bay, I have found other boat-related activities to help pass the time. For me, one of the best is to log in to a website called Off Center Harbor. If you haven’t seen it, you should.
I have an old wooden Lyman that I maintain myself for those days when there’s no wind and I can’t sail the Quickstep. She’s a fun old boat, a 1955 plywood lapstrake runabout. As you can guess, an old wooden boat has to be properly maintained, so to make sure I have some of the skills I need, I joined a boatbuilding class at the Door County Maritime Museum a couple of years ago and worked to build a nice little sailing skiff, a Pooduck, designed by Joel White. The class was great- a terrific confidence builder and consequently my interest in building and my skill in maintaining small wooden boats took off.
I read Woodenboat magazine regularly and count on the internet for research, so I joined Off Center Harbor when the site first opened a couple of years ago. What a terrific website! Not only are there super detailed step-by-step tutorials for building small wooden boats, but there are a myriad of articles on everything from small boat camping to outboard boat handling. There are videos of some of the neatest classic boats and all kinds of great photographs. The authors’ blog is very informative, and the guys who put this together really know their stuff. You are probably familiar with their work. There is historian Maynard Bray, photographer Benjamin Mendlowitz, boatbuilder Eric Blake, the writer Bill Mayher and videographer Steve Stone. The site isn’t free and although they offer a decent sampler, you can’t view it all without subscribing. But it is more than worth the few bucks it costs per year. You can spend hours learning and having a great deal of fun at the same time. Our Quicksteps are traditional boats and it seems to me that this site is a perfect match for us. So if you are tired of fighting the cold, pour yourself a nice smokey Scotch, grab the laptop, stoke the fire, and settle in with this site.