We bring you another week of stories from Port Townsend’s shipwright Diana Talley.

The Leak

“If you can keep a boat afloat for 24 hours, you can do it forever!”  I bought into that myth because I didn’t know any better.  But after 3 days of bailing 45 minutes out of every hour, it seemed clear the boat was sinking.

“What do you want to do?”, he asked.

“The second to the last thing I want to do is drown at sea. The last thing I want to do is go back to Panama.” Right then and there, he decided I was a keeper.

We were maybe 3 weeks out from the canal and had already returned once for a broken gudgeon. Pride goeth before a fall (or a sinking).

Exhausted, I lay in my bunk.  Just before sleep overtook me, I heard a high pitched, low decibel sound like a whistle, directly under my ear.  Further investigation showed this was the location of our leak.

Hauling our boat in Belize City, we’d hired the local shipyard to re-cork, putty and paint the bottom.  In their zeal, one of “the boys” had puttied the seam before cotton had been driven in. 

Paul dove overboard, armed with a butter knife and some cotton.  In no short order, the leak was fixed.

And he got to keep me after all.


I used to spin oakum for a living. Dave Ullin taught me. Dave was a hero of mine, a mentor and great friend, arguably the best corker in the Northwest.

Somewhere along the line, my product excelled even beyond Dave’s. At least that’s what Dave told me. I still blush just thinking about that.

The best impact from being a female oakum spinner though, was the strong essence of pine tar embedded in my clothing, my skin, my hair.

Pumping gas one day, every man within 50 feet was drawn to me, the best smelling woman in the world.

Every man’s heartthrob, just as Dave was mine.


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