Muskrat II or Orca Verde

Bill’s sculpture installation in Port Townsend (2019)

My boating friend Bill Wessinger is the most elegant woodworker I know. He bends and joins wood in ways that transform the material. His skin-on-frame style sculptures really capture the essence of some of my favorite creatures. For all his design savvy though, he seldom produces a good boat picture. So when he recently decided to design and build his own two-seat rowboat, I wanted to get a good photograph of it for him.

Bill Tandem small - 1

I was holding the bow when he and his brother tested the sliding seats. I followed him in my car snapping pictures to see how the trailer performed, and I even took a few turns at the oars.

Bill and his brother have been training for the Seventy48 race. On a recent sunny day Bill’s brother was busy, so Bill invited me to go rowing with him. I like tandem rowing, but I was feeling too unfocused to do anything that required that much cooperation, so I suggested that I might help Bill him understand how well his boat would work solo, while I rowed my guideboat.

Vancouver lake 2020 - 1

We headed to Vancouver Lake. For me, lakes are too flat; way dull compared to rivers or the sea. I usually go to a lake only when the spring freshet starts and the local rivers are running too strong for small boat. Once I’m at the lake though, I usually enjoy the stillness and the beautiful light.

Vancouver lake 2020 - 2

The pro and con of Vancouver Lake is that it doesn’t have a boat ramp. That means it’s pretty quiet, but hard to get into the water. I brought my trusty all-terrain cart and we slid his 20-foot boat onto it.

Vancouver lake 2020 - 3

Without too much effort, Bill eased it through the gates and towards the lake.

Vancouver lake 2020 - 4

Using some weights, we balanced his boat and I started taking pictures.

Vancouver lake 2020 - 5

I took a lot of pictures of his boat, which Bill calls Muskrat II. The bow reminded me of the distinctive markings of an orca. I tried, unsuccessfully, to convince him that he should call the boat Orca Verde instead.

Vancouver lake 2020 - 1 (1)

By the end of the day, the light reflecting off the clouds and lake made the surfaces almost indistinguishable. I snapped away furiously, but most of my shots were just so-so.

The best picture of the day turned out to be the one Bill took of me.


  1. His sculptural work is pretty awesome. I’ve been following his blog and Instagram account for some time. I think I found his blog about the time I was looking for inspiration on the skin-on-frame peapod 1/4 scale model I built and was blown away by the first whale he made and the molds he fashioned to do so. So stink’n cool!

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