Planet X

In Festival Boats 2021, Festival Boats 2022

When I was 13 years old, I built my first boat, a 10-foot plywood skiff. Other boats followed until college, parenthood, and a career in the aerospace industry set a different direction. Fast forward to the 2017 Wooden Boat Festival at Port Townsend. I had volunteered, and by coincidence admired the lines of a sleek little wineglass wherry by Pygmy Boats, available as a kit. I had a fleeting desire to build one myself but quickly dismissed the idea as foolish. After all, I was 80 years old and downsized to a small city house in Sequim with no space for a boat shop, and no tools. I admired the wherry but dismissed the idea again in 2018 and 2019.

Then, early in 2020, my daughter asked me to write down some history of my youth. And in writing that history I was reminded about my boating interests in my youth. I decided that the decision needn’t be rational. I could kick the family car out of the tiny garage and build a wherry from a Pygmy kit. There was just room for a 14-footer.

I managed to obtain a kit of materials the week the Covid pandemic really shut everything down. But I had my materials and set to work assembling the wherry. Then I spent another month assembling a trailer kit and fitting it to the hull. Finally, late in September, I invited my surprised neighbors to a launch party at John Wayne Marina, and Planet X got its bottom wet. My new boat was completed just about 70 years from when I finished my skiff at age 13.

Since that launch, I’ve been puttering with projects such as constructing mirror stalks so I can see where I’m rowing, adding padded cleats to hold the spruce spooned oars by Grape View Point Boatworks, and adding sole boards to walk on.

The point here is, everyone ought to build a boat every 70 years or so, whether you need one or not.