Wooden Mast: inspiration of a stick

Spidsgatter Pax: Fir mast built from old growth planks left over from the building of Pacific Grace in Victoria, BC. Design and construction by Derk Wolmuth.

When I bought Pax, the extra tall mast got a blink of notice, but honestly - the buxom double-ended design of the hull was the main attraction.  

Pax was leaking when she was arrived (or "drinking too much" as I wrote about in a blog post at OffCenterHarbor.com). A list pile of little tweaks to standing rigging, boom height, sail and running rigging accumulated to the point that even though the haul out was becoming more extensive than I budgeted, we pulled the mast.  

That was 2007. Again, the hull kept my main attention. 

Fast forward to 2012. Varnish is literally peeling off the mast, all 51 feet of it. With the hull in pretty good shape and two haulouts ahead in scrutiny, we pulled the mast for a second time.  

The expert advice of shipwrights and co-owners of Haven Boatworks - Julia Maynard & Stephen Gale began with gentle nudges as soon as the mast settled into her new home in their big covered shop space. Earlier blog posts reveal more about what happened over the next six weeks.

Six weeks. Long enough to make and break a habit.  Long enough for me to gain new appreciation for the challenging and impressively detailed, artistic work of Derk Wolmuth. Derk owned Pax before me and built the mast, boom and tiller. He grew up in boats and has strung together more unique boating adventures than most people ever dream about. His voyages range from rivers to oceans, from his native BC to Europe, American rivers to his current voyage in the South Pacific. He's also an artist.

When second generation Port Townsend wooden boat designer/inventor/builders like Kit Africa offered compliments on Derk's work, I listened. Like dozens of other wood experts who came by, he layed his hand and eyes with great respect for the old growth fir. He noticed the intricacy of the taper, the elliptical contours, the custom fittings.  

A shop full of shipwrights also offered insights on stripping, sanding, fitting removal, repair, varnish, varnishing, and in the final phase, Julia Maynard offered to "paint" the final two coats.

The mast was the last piece of Pax to get intimate attention. By standing next to and working with shipwrights - young and old - I not only gained appreciation for Derk's design and construction, but my appreciation for the core values of wooden boat culture was refreshed and re-inspired.  Work at what you love.