Why I (Still) Love RowBird

row bird columbia - 1.jpgI got the chance to take the helm of a 30 foot keelboat last weekend. It had soft cushions, a head, a bimini, and a nice big electronic chart above the wheel. Music drifted out of two speakers strategically placed in the back of the cockpit. When we got tired of fighting the current, we cranked on the diesel engine and motored back to the dock. There was good company on the boat, but I didn’t enjoy the sailing as much as I do on RowBird. To be fair to the keelboat, it could have been a Herreshoff, but because I’m in love with RowBird, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Continue reading “Why I (Still) Love RowBird”


Makers & Fakers


“Did you build that?” is the most common question I get about Row Bird. As many times as I’ve heard it, I’m never quite sure how to respond.

When I’m in a rush I say yes and if they’re not sailors, the conversation often ends right there. The asker stands nearby, strokes the gunwale’s smooth varnish, smiles sheepishly, and soon wanders off.  Continue reading “Makers & Fakers”

Not Your Typical Opening Day

hove to

Sitting hove to in 30 knots of wind was not how I anticipated spending my opening day.

When my friend Andy and I decided to attempt a 25-mile circumnavigation of the South Sound’s Harstine Island in Row Bird, I worried we’d only have enough wind to sail half the route, if that.

Read the rest of the tale, across the jump at Three Sheets NW.

What’s worse than a capsize?

kim swimsI used to be scared of capsizing my boat. The idea of being suddenly thrust into the chilly river worried me. I imagined my stuff floating away and the boat refusing to return upright or slowly sinking. All these thoughts are realistic, especially the detrimental effect of the cold water, but what I hadn’t given much thought to is something emotionally scarier.   Continue reading “What’s worse than a capsize?”

The Boat Camping Trip that Wasn’t


The view from the Vista House, perched on a cliff seven hundred feet above the Columbia River, makes me feel as if the world has just been formed. Rough spires of rock emerge from broad swaths of water, dense stands of huge conifers dominate the hillsides, and a multitude of sandy islands and points disappear into a bank of seemingly life-giving clouds. Aside from a ribbon of highway that disappears into the forest, there is no sign of human habitation as I gaze eastward. My desire to be out there sailing is nearly overpowering. Unfortunately, on this particular day, I’m leading a tour, so I vow to come back with my boys for an overnighter on a deserted island, ours for exploration.   Continue reading “The Boat Camping Trip that Wasn’t”