Depoe Bay
by Larry Barker 

Boats and weather were the focus for many of us heading to the annual Depoe Bay Wooden Boat Festival and Crab Feed on the Oregon Coast at the end of April. Boats because that's just how we are and because John Kohnen's web site had whet our appetites with pictures from previous years' festivals. And weather because the forecasts had finally settled down and agreed that there was a storm hitting the coast that weekend. As it turned out, the boats were every bit as good as we had hoped and the weather, with some help from Depoe Bay, gave us a break.

The town of Depoe Bay is a small, friendly place fronting on the Pacific Ocean. It depends largely on the tourist industry as do many towns along the coast. The Bay itself is a tiny (6 acre) natural harbor tucked into a rocky stretch of Oregon's central coast. Its entrance is a narrow dogleg through a rock wall and under the Hwy 101 bridge. That protection gave the festival its pleasant Saturday. Microsoft TerraServer has a good aerial photo -  Here

We did get a break from the weather. Saturday turned out sunny and nice after a couple of morning showers. The wind outside the harbor was strong enough to bring out the gale warnings but the harbor provided so much protection that the sailboats couldn't find a breeze. Sunday the rain arrived along with a South wind that got into the harbor. The crowd thinned and many left early.

Of course, we had gone for the boats. Many of us didn't take in the crab feed (some didn't even realize that it was going on). There were dozens of boats on display in the parking lot and in the water. These ranged from the 60 year old charter boat Kingfisher to replicas of Inuit skin kayaks and from simple punts to some beautifully-finished lapstrakes. All day Saturday the crowd wandered and people talked with each other and the builders. Some of the builders had much experience and several boats while others were showing their first work. It was a great way to see not only craftsmanship but originality and ingenuity. There were boatbuilding lectures, a rowing race and an amazing demonstration of kayak rolling by Harvey Golden in his Inuit replica. The beauty of this festival was that it was big enough to have variety and life but small enough to be informal and friendly. The folks in Depoe Bay were great. They put a lot of effort into this event and went out of their way to be friendly and make us feel welcome.


John Kohnen deserves a pat on the back for the work he has done promoting this festival. In fact, the festival organizers hauled him up to the podium to thank him for his work. John's web site brought the festival to my attention and apparently I was not alone. He also deserves credit for donating his "6 Hour Canoe" to the local kids' rowing club. "Small Fry" could be seen cruising around the harbor all day.

In the end we were reminded that it wasn't just the boats that brought us. It was good to visit with friends we'd made at previous events. Besides John, some other guys from last year's Port Townsend festival had shown up. Jamie Orr (nice Chebacco, Jamie) and his father Les made the trip down from the Victoria along with John Ewing and Alan Woodbury . Other folks from the Bolger Group showed up - now those names have faces to go with them. Sharing homebrew with Scott was a good thing too. And next year I'll know about the gathering in the Spouting Horn's upstairs bar. See you there.

John Kohnen's 'Pickle'

The Following Depoe Bay photos are courtesy of John Ewing :
(click thumbnails to enlarge)

808.jpg (100877 bytes) Rocking and rolling Saturday morning, a whale-watching boat heads back to port.
809.jpg (87047 bytes) Captain waits for just the right moment to throttle in through rock-lined gap.
810.jpg (113867 bytes) Going for it! Rock-lined channel is narrow and twisting, with highway bridge above.
811.jpg (104168 bytes) Inside the Bay, all is calm, protected from storms by that tricky, 'hole in the wall' gap. 
812.jpg (89598 bytes) The calm and cozy Bay is home to a youth rowing club and other water activities.
813.jpg (67589 bytes) On the outside shore, the town overlooks a raging Saturday sea.
806.jpg (82035 bytes) 'Ginger', a 23-foot, raised-deck cruiser with electric propulsion. 
815.jpg (91503 bytes) Bill Storch (centre) and his Chamberlin dory skiff.
816.jpg (88149 bytes) Harvey Golden showed three of 34 replica Inuit hunting kayaks he's built -- all different!
817.jpg (88076 bytes) Harvey Golden practices his vast repertoire of competitive kayak rolls.
818.jpg (90681 bytes) Harvey often travels to Greenland both to research kayak types and to compete.
820.jpg (89948 bytes) If memory serves, this is Michael Rood's 18-ft. fishing skiff with graphite-coated bottom. 
821.jpg (100219 bytes) Dryland display (well, mostly dry on Saturday), with RCMP's 31-ft., fibreglass replica of a Northwest native canoe on left. 
822.jpg (98455 bytes) Dave & Linda Ward's 16-ft. daysailer 'Wayward I', designed by Ian Proctor.  
823.jpg (96054 bytes) The Wards built 'Wayward I' from a Wayfarer kit bought in Cobble Hill, B.C.
824.jpg (89414 bytes) Air-cooled engine in Jim Cooper's 'Brenda Sue' is from a lawn tractor.
825.jpg (87932 bytes) Engine cover propped open on  this 16-ft., lapstrake skiff.
701.jpg (74208 bytes) 'Microwave' is a glued-lapstrake sailing dinghy built by Bob Larkin to Ian Oughtred's Acorn 8 design.
702.jpg (110115 bytes) Some of boats in floating display at 2001 Depoe Bay festival.
703.jpg (76617 bytes) Jamie Orr talks to Terry Lesh about Terry's 'Windance', a 12-ft. sailing camp cruiser.
708.jpg (108390 bytes) Everyone used same dory in Saturday's against-the-clock rowing race.  Jamie Orr crosses finsih line just 10 seconds off best time to that point.
709.jpg (86469 bytes) For $150 and much elbow grease, Bryn Thoms got himself this beautiful Gloucester Gull dory, designed by Phil Bolger.
720.jpg (70130 bytes) Bryn Thoms gets extra marks for neatness in his Gloucester Gull presentation. 
710.jpg (106597 bytes) Ray Heater displayed Rogue- and McKenzie-style drift boats.
711.jpg (83767 bytes) Jamie Orr gives some kids a sail but heeds Coast Guard advice not to venture to sea beyond bridge.
712.jpg (56338 bytes) A cedar-strip kayak and paddle. Now that's art!
714.jpg (108867 bytes) Boating idyll features cat ketch 'Wayward Lass', built and sailed by Jamie Orr.   Designed by Phil Bolger, Jamie's 20-ft. Chebacco is stitch-seamed.
716.jpg (138711 bytes) John Kohnen with 'Pickle', a 15-ft. footloose sailing skiff. 
717.jpg (80458 bytes) Detail of 'Pickle', built by Louie Brochetti to a design by Warren Jordan.
718.jpg (96579 bytes) More 'Pickle'
721.jpg (69010 bytes) Harvey Golden's skin-covered Inuit hunting kayaks and Greenland paddles.
723.jpg (75995 bytes) Beauty and comfort in a strip built canoe.
724.jpg (60372 bytes) Carved transom on Einar Skovbo's pram brings a lovely end to our Depoe Bay Festival visit. For more views, go to Larry Barker's website.


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