23 images Created 16 Nov 2014
In 1980, in my second year working at a salmon cannery in Southeast Alaska, my partner and I bought this boat from another Englishman, an experienced boat-builder who built it in Bend, Oregon and sailed it up through the Inside Passage to Alaska. It was a 26 ft gaff cutter, with a hard chine hull, designed by a well known Port Angeles boat designer called George Buehler, who specialises in classic designs that are relatively cheap, fast and simple to build, and can be built in a back-garden or small shop by anyone without specialist boat construction skills. It was designed to provide maximum deck for such a small boat at the expense of the size of the cabin, which was very snug and cozy to say the least, and my skull had to become quickly accustomed to the frequent knocks on the stout timbers. The open foredeck provided enough space to stow my Klepper folding kayak as well as a small dinghy very aptly named "Teacup". The only problem with the deck was that it leaked very badly, partly because Jim the boat builder, had used mahogany for the deck, which is not ideal because of its tendency for excessive shrinkage and opening up of the seams. In his frustration he had hastily painted it with bitumastic paint, which quickly solved the problem, but left us with a very messy job to remove it, because it was neither aesthetically complimentary to an otherwise elegant looking boat, and the sticky, oily blackness contaminated everything. After we stripped it off I vainly attempted to recaulk the coach roof and deck, but we had sacrificed a dry interior for a more attractive exterior, which wasn't ideal for one of the wettest places on earth. My Alaskan partner Anne was very interested in Arthurian legends so we named the boat “Avalon”. She looked beautiful with her burgundy gaff sails aloft, but unfortunately the sailing was never consistently very good because of the very erratic wind direction and speeds in the sounds between the mainland and the islands.