I worked for a fella many years ago who had a small sailboat and a small budget.  It needed a lot of work, including new cockpit combings.  He chose Honduras Mahogany, not my first choice.

Being clever, I built a jig to bend the combings around with a little extra umph for spring back.  I carefully fashioned the shape and curve, the angles for n aft and the bottom, to the camber of the deck.  I even cut the limber holes, then slathered them up and threw them in the steam box.

I remember it was a Sunday.  The yard was empty of distractions.  The steam up went well.

As I walked home through Kai Tai, I had an epiphany.  I had neglected to notice which was port and which was starboard.  It was such a beautiful day I decided there was a 50%  chance I’d done it right, so I wasn’t going to worry about it.

Monday morning found me up at Edensaw, buying all new Hondo.  No extra charge to the customer.

I stashed the wrong combings in the mezzanine, for another use some day.

Some months later, Tana asked me to build a waiting bench for the Blue Moose.  Not wanting fine furniture, but folksy funk, I had the free wood to do the job.  A coupla fasteners later, I produced an errant bench, which many a butt has sat on.

Years later, I worked on a true gold plater, large, excellent crew, first class craftsmanship. Teak was the flavor of choice.

One of the finest shipwrights Port Townsend ever spawned, made an intricate cut and went to fasten it.  “Oh well…   maybe I’ll find another use for it…  like in my wood stove.”  Teak burns hot!

I felt right at home.


After weeks of fretting, designing, procuring, measuring, cutting, cutting, ( “Measure Twice – Cut Once”), muscling into place (It’s a big frickin barn door) and installing… I was giddy with accomplishment.  The mechanism was so smooth.  I smiled broadly at Rick and declared, “Watch this”.

Sliding it open with glee, it slid right off the track onto the ground.  I had forgotten to install the stop. Goll durnit.   So we had to muscle it back into place and re-install all over again.  (Muscle Into Place Once – Install Once!)


  1. Hey you. I chuckled with this one. Port and Starboard. How often I messed that up. Lol. Gol darnit, never heard you say that 🤔. Xo

  2. thanks for your stories. We need more stories from those of you working on the waterfront at the shipyard.

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