Right Coast Dispatch No. 1
In a large tool bay in Chesapeake Light Craft's workshop, boards and boats of endless shape and purpose hang in every corner, a reminder of all the ideas born and dreams attained in such a place. Our class of aspiring board-builders was there in March each pursuing one single idea: to ride wood boards they built with their own hands.
As we worked alongside the students in this, our first workshop of the Right Coast Road Trip, the wood shavings grew from our tools, curving in mimicry of the waves we all see in our dreams. Our feet, shuffling, plowed fallen shavings across the paint and resin coated floor like Zamboni machines. The sound of reggae jumping around us added to the percussion of hand tools trimming and truing their stock. Outside the large bay window the snow still fell and the wind ripped, a reminder of the long and lingering winter we thought we left behind in Maine. But in the warmth of the CLC shop, we think only of wood, water, and the elements of passion and craft.
Dispatch Number One: Some Things Change.
Less than a week later we're tracking the same cedar shavings and painter's tape on the soles of our feet in North Florida. It's here that we begin our second four-day board building workshop in the shadow of the St Augustine Lighthouse Museum. In a location reeking with natural and cultural history but under a hot southern sun we share what we know with locals who've turned out to shape their own wave riding vehicles, which become a couple of logs and two paipos. Before the class even wraps up, we're making plans to hang with the folks we've been working with, and as we share food, stories and waves with them, we know the class has been a success.
Nolan and I have had some incredible luck on Mondays, starting a couple days before we left to head south. A really fun swell came through southern Maine just 48 hours before we left, seeming to bid us farewell and to give us one more chance to squeeze into our thick and restricting winter suits before we retire them 'til next year. It seems the same luck has followed us south as we've now enjoyed two more epic Mondays that have ended either with great waves shared with our students or great weather and fun shared with other friends.
Today, we're visiting one of those friends - a fellow wooden board builder and Grain-watcher in Cocoa Beach, a place made famous by surf culture and by a guy named Kelly Slater. From the back patio, we watch dolphins and manatees breach the surface, watch mullet jump and pelicans dive. It's a very different scene from our last stop in the nation's capital where we held a handplane shaping class. In D.C. it was hard to notice the lack of marine mammals in the crush of helicopters, taxis and incredible monuments of stone.
Matt Entwistle and Nolan Collins will be reporting from the road until their return sometime before summer. Matt's going to be sending more dispatches which we'll post here in the blog... but for a daily dose, keep up with their progress on Facebook and Instagram.
Though our surroundings and the weather have changed dramatically since we left Maine, the people we've met are consistent in the sudden enthusiasm they show when you tell them you're teaching people to build wooden surfboards. And though we may change our itchy winter beards somewhere along the line, we'll probably carry on as we are, two men and a dog, a '91 Ford F-150 and a horse trailer full of all the implements one needs to build watercraft that should last a lifetime.