What makes up for the lack of homely charm here at the industrial park is the fact that the nearby village is unbelievably cute, especially this time of year. Soon I will get Greg to brush off the sawdust, and we will walk the block and gaze at the little monsters trick-or-treating and the candle glows from the porches of the circa 1800 homes.

We recently made a spontaneous road trip to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The first couple of nights we visited with Greg’s family, always happy to see them. I have awesome in-laws. What spurred the trip was discovering that there was a boat in VA built from the same plans that Greg is using, called Wild Fox, owned by an Irishman named Anthony Swanston, who had it built about 5 years ago in Poland. We drove to an out-of-the-way cove on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay on a blustery day and proceeded to comb through his boat (he knew we were coming!). It was great to see a similar vessel to our Willow, just to see how someone else would build a Benford dory.

(if I could insert photos it would be here………..darn it. Basically, picture a Willow but with longer cabin topsides, teak decks, dark blue hull, and lovely varnished masts. Wild
Fox’s sail plan differs in that the foresail is much smaller, and the mainsail much larger, than our similarly sized sails on Willow)

Buoyed from the information that Anthony generously shared, we then drove up to Maryland to visit with Jay Benford, the designer whose name has spilled off our lips for many years but whom we’ve never met before. Nice man, especially since he included a photo of us on the back of his new book that just came out, called ‘Building Badger’. It was a timely visit for Greg to share his ideas with Jay, since gaining experience on our boat and always thinking about ways of improving the vessel design. I won’t go into any details here, but maybe Greg will take a moment here soon to write about it once decisions are final, plus he’ll know what he’s talking about.

I can state for a fact that my mead did what it was supposed to do in the carboy, as my attempts to siphon it into bottles was messy and eventually I had Greg involved in sucking the tube too-not sure how many accidental gulps in the end but it sure was fun!
And already quite edible-can’t wait to see how tasty it will be after sitting out the required year.

Happy Halloween everyone!

On How to Be Obsessed by Boats


Ohio continues to be a pleasant place as the weather holds, fall colors frame the old colonial farmhouses, and neighbors offer hayrides and pumpkin fests and apple cider. We’ve managed to coat a fair portion of it with plywood and epoxy dust.

The new boat is taking shape (still in 2 dimension) full scale on the floor of the shop. As Greg looks at each area of the boat he sizes out those parts which are new to us, as adding 3 ½’ in length will give you room for a pilot house, a hallway, a tub that we don’t have on Willow. Then he can commit to where the frames will go and how. A lot of plywood has been scarfed and epoxy coated multiple times already, so when the frames are set he’ll be able to cut them all out pretty quickly. Besides sanding, he’s also thought a lot about the new boat systems; there will be quite a bit more than on ours, and it’s good to plan ahead. But the sawz-all can be handy at times….

I’ve had a good look at Willow. Basically I’ve removed all hardware and screws from the interior, just down to wood now for easier sanding and painting and varnishing. McFeely’s s.s. screws have held up well. Same for outer decks, although the cleats have much larger screws that were epoxied into the deck, and that explains the brand new tool I found on Willow and had to ask: An Impact Driver, or in this case, un-driver, for busting them loose. Man job. If we had rusting screws they were usually part of the equipment-on pumps and such. Besides sanding, I’ve been cleaning up our gear, and then I bolt out of the industrial park and hike the beautiful valley nearby so that I feel that I’ve still evolved into the upright position.

Besides sanding, Greg and I like think about what we should or could change on Willow while she’s in the shop. I ripped out the head already, and all that plumbing-it was a terrific head, because Greg built it, of course, but since the plumbing should be changed out anyway, we’re going to put in a composting toilet. No more plumbing or rusty valves and one less hole in the hull. Works well for us at the cabin in Hawaii too.
The fuel tanks are mild steel painted with Ameron, an epoxy paint, and need to be removed and cleaned and repainted. Greg is thinking of a small dodger tied into some new deck boxes up in the cockpit area, mostly with a mind towards comfort when we’re seated up there. Also, removing the rudder and replacing the s.s. bolts (not McFeelys) I’m afraid. As I scrubbed residual Hawaiian beach sand off Jake our dinghy recently, Greg mentioned a new lighter dinghy. I finally paused, when it dawned on me he was adding entirely new boats to the project list!

Our computer voodoo buddies Jim and Jason have to do programming to get new photos on the blog here because of some new glitch, which is beyond me, so I can’t post any for now. We’re not very photogenic at the moment anyway, pale-like and dusty. Although Greg looks good in his new work pants.

I have some blueberry honey mead bubbling in one of the many closets here, not because we never leave and have to have a handy source, but because tradition dictates you have homemade mead at a boat launch and it needs to sit for a good year, but you taste it from time-to-time anyway. We have gone out in the last month since we’ve been here, twice, and we’re blown away by the size of the beer mugs that they serve you in this part of the country. What is the next size up from pint?

I’m not sure when we can have Willow back in the water, but I’m motivated when I think of sailing the inside waters of the Great Lakes, visiting home, continuing on, to the eastern seaboard (have you seen all those coves in Maine?), and Europe, just beyond the horizon.


It all begins with one very straight line.

Well, having technical problems. Mostly based on the fact that I have always had either Jim or Jason Rose idiot proof this process for me. It seems I managed to mess things up again I think, so, will have to make a tech call soon to work out getting images posted. I am trying to create a new blog about the current situation Bonnie and I have found ourselves in. Building another boat in Middletown, Ohio over the next year. Will work on it, so, don’t give up on me here.