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.