John Welsford's website
John Welsford's design page
A few of John's designs:
From the Drawing
(occasional ramblings of a Small Craft
Port Townsend (take two)
I went to the show. It wasn't easy, its over 7000 miles,
mostly over water from my house to Port Townsend where the annual Port
Townsend Wooden Boat Festival is held. A long walk, and I needed to be
back at work on Monday!
Friday should have been the best day, but I was several hundred miles away
playing catch-up on the appointments that were paying a large part of my
air ticket and crawling around among giant woodworking machines in
sawmills. So it was Saturday morning that I walked in through the gates
with David Le Blanc.
Nice weather, so nice that everybody I spoke to commented on it and
pointed out that Puget Sounds reputation for rain was undeserved, methinks
they protest too much! It was nice though and the two of us drifted from
one treasure to another, keeping an eye out for Chuck Leinweber ( who
neither of us had ever met which made the job a little more difficult) and
chatting to people like John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft. On
reflection both Chuck and John had a much longer trip than I did, my
travel was courtesy of Boeing and Airbus which although boring was pretty
My impressions of the show are still a muddle, I have many mental pictures
of lovely boats, big hefty converted fishing boats and a couple of charter
schooners dominated the basin but in between there were some boats of a
size that I could relate to. How about a pair of exquisite Nordic
Folkboats, both close to original in construction and layout with low
cabin tops and long cockpits preserving the grace of the clinker lined
hull. There were a couple of Sam Devlins stocky little stitch and tape
Surf Scoter launches, wonderful things for the climate and semi enclosed
waters of the Puget Sound. On the Sunday morning I sat by a tiny wood
burning stove at an exhibitors display ( the weather had turned cold and
drizzly, more like the reputation of the area) and appreciated the reason
for all of the smokeheads and chimneys on the boats, almost unheard of
where I come from I suspect that they are a necessity rather than a luxury
in Washington state.
I was very taken with a nicely built example of Sams "Lichen" design, a
little scow bowed centreboard cruising yacht. Roomy and light inside for a
boat of about 20 ft long on deck, the proportions of the cabin and the
were perfect for the hull shape which was that of a bigger boat with the
ends snubbed, big windows, comfy seating both in the cockpit and below,
and the inevitable little stove putting out cheery heat.
Another that struck the eye was a short and chubby Iain Oughtred designed
Wee Seal, altered by the builder ( as a designer I have mixed views on
owner alterations, the designer is the one who still gets the blame if the
boat is adversely affected by the alterations, please ask first) to have a
full keel rather than a centreboard and set up for cruising around the
Queen Charlotte and Puget Sound areas. A well done amateur built boat like
this one can be a delight, with few constraints on the time that the
project takes, and loving attention to detail the boats are often better
than that which a professional yard with budgetary constraints and costs
There were interesting people, Sam Devlin with whom I was able to spend
only a few minutes between his customers, Brion Toss in his rigging shop,
the man at the tool stand with whom I talked knife steels and forges for
half an hour . I bought one of his tiny drawknives, I suspect that I wont
use it much but its a lovely tool and I needed to buy at least one
I sat and listened to the sea chanties being sung in the "Beer tent",
watched people, sat by the tiny Squeak and talked to Stephen Ladd about
cruising small boats. It seemed to me that he has vast experience in one
boat, while I have a little experience each in many boats, an interesting
juxtaposition, and one that would stand some more exploration.
A sidewheel paddle boat cycled by, the Bike wheels on the sides equipped
with paddle vanes and the single wheel at the stern fitted with a disk and
steerable to act as rudder when in the water, all housed in a double ended
plywood flattie and propelled by a recumbent bicycle .
Looked over the Chesapeak Light Craft stand, they have got the kitsetting
of kayaks and light pulling boats down to a fine art, John Harris is
another who I'd have liked to spend more time with but he had travelled a
long way to be there and needed to put his time into his customers. Nice
My main contacts were to be Chuck and Sandra Leinweber, and we must have
missed by minutes many times, "yes he's been here, asking for you" was the
answer at the CSL stand on several occasions. I guess if either of us had
stayed in one place for a while we'd have connected earlier. But there was
so much to see, most of needing more than one look.
We met Jamie Orr, across from Victoria in his Chebacco boat, I recognised
the moustache from the pictures in his cruising stories , ate several
times in the eating house on the hardstand, the food was fine but the help
were a bit overwhelmed by the busyness of the weekend. I'd hate to be a
waiter in a place like that, the demands on the memory are high and the
pressure constant. Good food though, worth the wait.
I walked, looked through catalogues, picked up a few, walked, collected
and handed out business cards, walked some more and talked some more. I'd
spent a day imprisoned in airport lounges and aluminium tubes to get
there, then as a part of my work spent four days ( over 2000 miles, Mr
Hertz wont make much on that hire) in a car running back and forth to
sawmills and machinery companies so walking was a relief.
And, just as it was looking as though we'd missed, a slightly built guy in
a Duckworksmagazine.com hat came up and addressed me by name. Hi Chuck,
pleased to meet you Sandra, where can we sit and talk.
It was great meeting them, we had only a short time together, but we've
met, and that will be the first of many meetings, hopefully not as rushed.
We have a common interest in the boats, and of course the Leinwebers are
agents for my plans . We talked about our different countries, boats,
politics, boats, economics, boats, marketing, boats, business plans,
boats, advertising, boats and at the end of an hour, decided to go eat,
then meet in Jamie Orr's motel and talk, about boats.
All too short, but good fun, nice people and all of my silver coins are
going in a jamjar to make a start on the next airline ticket. I suspect
that Sandra and Chuck are thinking along the same lines, I know that David
LeBlanc who was my guide and interpreter for the two days at the show is
itching to come and see my country, and I am keen to see more of the USA,
its people, and more boats.