Art on the water

The first few years out of college, I worked in various camera stores. But I also spent many hours teaching SCUBA diving, photographing underwater (and on land), and sailing with friends. At some point, I got the notion to buy a sailboat, one large enough I could live on. I'd no long have to move from apartment to apartment, and I could possibly use the boat as a diving platform (as had one of my fellow diving instructors). It was one of those "It seemed like a good idea at the time" decisions.

Eventually, I found the Antaries, a wooden, 35-foot motorsailer. It soon became clear that I needed to know much more about boats and art of wooden-boat maintanence. So I traded the safe and reliable retail world for a job as a boat worker. An acquaintence had a business customizing and commissioning sea-going sailboats and powerboats.

Unfortunately, the move was bad timing; it was the late '70s, and a economic recession delta a major blow to yacht sales. Still committed to boats, I worked for West Marine Products for a year and then spent another year working at an Alameda, CA, boatshop assembling Wylie Wabbits — a small and fast, 25-foot daysailer. But working daily with fiberglass and its associated chemicals was too much of a health rise: I decided to look for a cleaner and better-paying career. Still, I've kept my love of boats.



By the mid-'90s, I was married, had sold my boat, and I'd helped produce two kids. But we were still spending time on the water when possible, hanging out on the inlaws' 30-foot sloop. It was time our kids learned to sail. Both my then wife and I had learned to sail on the classic, eight-foot El Toro dinghy; it seemed like the natural choice for a beginner boat. Given my skills with wood, I decided to build an El Toro from scratch. Cockle Bull was the result. Both kids happily used it, and I sailed it across San Francisco Bay several times in the classic and very competive Bullship races.

By 2012, the boat was is a sad way, the result of use and too many moves. Over several months, I restored the hull integrity, repainted, and revarnished. Once done, Cockle Bull took to the water again, this time on sunny day on Seattle's Lake Washington.