September 18, 2016
I am very lucky that as a wooden boat aficionado I live in the Northeast, so I have been able to see many famous boats built by famous builders — Herreshoff, Brooklin Boat Yard, Rockport Marine, Artisan Boatworks, Doug Hylan. But I had to travel 3,000 miles to Port Townsend, WA, to admire the best I’ve ever seen — Beckon, built in Montana by Richard and Jane Beck.
I discovered Beckon some time ago surfing through boat-building sites, and she led me to Mark Smaalders.. I will forever be indebted to the Becks for a link to Mark’s site and my love-at-first-sight affair with his Olga 28 design, which has now become Tardis. Literally, that’s how it happened — admiring Beckon, opening the link, a small Olga illustration on Mark’s home page, a light bulb turning on in my head: “That’s the boat I will build.”
Beckon is perfect — a symphony of mahogany and bronze and brass. Custom everything — louvered doors, hatch openers, hardware, furniture, stanchions. Richard is by trade a cabinetmaker and there is not a joint that can be seen. She gleams in Jane-applied paint and varnish. I had trouble getting good pictures with light streaming through the ports, but there are a lot better ones in the Beck’s build journal, to the right of this post in the links section. The rig is still in shake-down mode, but is also quite interesting in that it is set up very traditionally with dead-eyes and lanyards, laced-on sails and gaff rig, but all of these using the very latest in high-tech cordage. The effect is stunning — a perfect, tough seagoing yacht from 80 years ago that was built yesterday using materials that should last another 100 years or more.
The Becks are the nicest, friendliest people. We spent a lot of time on Beckon and went out to a wonderful dinner with others from the Festival. I left energized and with beautiful visions of Beckon to get me through the home stretch on Tardis.
Also encouraging was a nice talk with Sam Devlin, my second-favorite boat designer and one of my teachers at WoodenBoat School. He seemed very taken with the thought that someone he had taught to glue up a rowboat 20 years ago is still epoxy-addicted and working on a pretty good-sized project.
Also in this post are pictures of some of the many boats at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival that reflect what I’m trying to do with Tardis.