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This is going to be a different sort of post for me. I’m writing on a subject I know nothing about, a boat launch. I know very little about boats and avoid them when I can since I get terribly seasick even just thinking about them. What’s more unusual is that I’m writing about two people I’ve known for many years, people I consider friends, yet I didn’t really know them at all until today. Or maybe I just learned so much more about them that it only seems that way.
I met Karen first. She once owned the Roadhouse Café in Elk. Since I owned a restaurant at one time, we shared something in common. She’s a wonderful cook. After she lost her lease, she began offering gourmet meals delivered once a week on order. Delicious and so convenient. I’ve been a satisfied customer for several years.
It was through Karen that I met Ejler. I knew little about him other than that he was from Denmark, he was a master woodworker, he taught at College of the Redwoods, and he loved boats and fishing. You can read an interesting article on Ejler in Woodworking Magazine HERE.
Once my wife and I were invited to Karen and Ejler’s home in Elk. We strolled around in the beautiful garden, investigated the very practical and well organized green house, and were invited inside Ejler’s workshop, a master craftsman’s delight. We even got to explore Karen’s kitchen. I have never forgotten that day.
But, this is a post about the launching of a boat. Not just any boat. This boat is a 30’ rowboat constructed by a crew of seven master woodworkers with natural materials and techniques. It was commissioned by the TSCA (Traditional Small Craft Association) for the Noyo Women’s Rowing Club. The crew arrived from all over the country to build it (Wisconsin, Ohio, southern California, northern California, and the others are local to the Mendocino coast).
The sides of the boat were constructed of overlapping plywood while the various parts of the interior included eucalyptus, air-dried white oak, mahogany, redwood, and madrone. It amazed me to hear that the boat was constructed in six just weeks (ending at 3 am this morning, the day of the launch, October 28, 2017).
There is far more to tell about this boat but that will take someone with more knowledge than I. My journey to watch the launching was somewhat helter skelter. I know nothing about woodworking. I could probably tell a hammer from a saw but not much more than that.
I’m glad I went even if the journey was a little unusual. My initial information was that the launch would take place in Noyo Harbor near the end close to Django’s Rough Bar and Café. I arrived about 20 minutes early. After exploring the area and finding no one there for a boat launching, I began to get worried. Then I got a phone call on my cell informing me that the launch would actually take place on the south side of the river at the upper boat launch ramp along Noyo river. I managed to arrive with time to spare and mixed with the crowd of about 50 to 100 enthused and interested people including a few friends.
Ejler gave a wonderful speech and introduced the members of the crew who got the privilege of being the first group to row the boat. I stayed until the boat was launched and moving along nicely in the water.
Another group of rowers offered Ejler a toast.
The new owner served as the coxswain and he instructed the oarsmen and oarswomen on the basic calls they would need to understand to row in unison.
On my way out a man came to join the crowd. Suddenly he broke out singing The Drunken Sailor and most of the people seemed to know the words. The mood was jolly and I’m sure there was more to follow. Sadly I had to leave. I walked away mouthing the words as best I could. They still ring in my ears.