March 2005
Port of Oakland, Its Employees, and Business Partners Respond to the Tsunami Disaster
Port of Oakland Receives Key Presidential Support for -50 Foot Dredging Project
Port of Oakland Launches Truck Repowering Project
Embarcadero Bicycle Facility Opens
Seismic Safety Hit a Political Roadblock
Port of San Francisco Hosts Cruise Symposium
Alamedaís Westside Renaissance
Cuisine: The New Zealanderís Pavlova
Working Waterfront: Hello, Hello Wines
Tall Ships of the Past
WTA pages
By the Ways
b.a.y. fund is Red Hot
Limits for No Limit
Bay Crossings Calendar

By the Ways

By Victoria Colella

Ever watched steaming oak ribs inserted into the spine of an old wooden boat? Or witnessed the pouring of molten bronze into a sand mold? These are just a few of the traditional processes that are employed by the skilled shipwrights here on the Sausalito waterfront. But there is more to it than I am telling. For these methods have a rhythm and ceremony attached to them, and people who know gather to lend a hand and toast a job well done under the cold night stars. Young and old, men and women rise to the occasion and there is a wondrous camaraderie and connection to the ancient ways so lacking in our culture. Beat your drums, howl at the moon, this will suffice for now, but when the time comes to test your own mettle, count on the sea to raise the bar. What better way to ensure your survival than to build your own boat according to tried and true plans tested over thousands of years.

It is said among most boat salesmen these days that wood is out and fiberglass is the way to go. Low maintenance, they claim, is the bottom line and outweighs all else. Besides, itís cheaper. If you attended the local boat shows, you would see these salesmen standing beside their oversized white bathtubs, painted with gaudy graphics. I honestly did try to make some human connection with this inert grouping of all-to-similar creations, for I will not go so far as to consider them boats. For boats have a romance about them, and these things have none of that. They are hard and cold and lifeless and smell of some faraway fiberglass factory. Moreover, these things have cut the wooden boat culture off at the knees.

Still, the wooden boat culture survives and will continue to survive as long as there are people who understand the importance of keeping our human connection to the world around us and who enjoy the satisfaction of building something with their own hands and whose hearts are lifted when they watch a new boat launched or an old one restored to its former glory. Events such as John Muirís Chinese Shrimp Junk Project last year brought together an entire community at China Camp for a boat launch as it should be, complete with dancing dragons and firecrackers.

So all of you who wonder how you can connect with this culture, how you can become part of it, dream. Dream a dream of a little wooden boat, selecting the plan and materials, building it together with family and friends, launching it, sharing in its care, and enjoying the use of it for years to come. Thatís what itís all about.