Stormy and Still – Marshes of Mathews

direct youtube link


This is some video shot before Thanksgiving, a week spent on a barrier island in the Chesapeake off the coast of Mathews County.

The trip started with storms and high winds and coastal flooding. A really rough crossing. Within a few days, it blew itself out and left behind sunshine and impossible stillness.

Once you get about 40 seconds into the video, the wind noise dissipates. Then you can hear birds in the marsh, waves, a crackling fire, and Great Horned Owls.

One quiet evening after a beach bonfire, T and I were out staring up at the stars. The peaceful silence was broken by the screams of a rabbit caught in the talons of an owl. The sound was so frightening T grabbed my arm and left a bruise. 🙂

By mid-week we could take the new kayaks out into the tidal creeks. T has the blue Chuckanut 12s, and I have the larger white Chuckanut 15, both designed by good friend Dave Gentry of Gentry Custom Boats. (Plans available through Duckworks.)

A few years ago, I brought one of the Melonseeds here, and had some marvelous sailing. But the inlets have filled in even more since then. At the south end, where steamboats once came into the harbor, you can now wade across the inlet and not get your knees wet. The island is shorter by a hundred yards.

With the creeks silting in, and the weather looking iffy, I was glad to have the new kayaks to bring along. I was often paddling over the mud in less than 3 inches of water.


You can read about the island in previous posts starting here:

Winter Harbor ~ Crossing Over


Not Like Winter

Christmas Day and today both warmed above 70 degrees. Another coming midweek. I’ve lost count, but that’s more than I remember in my lifetime.

While T napped and read on the porch swing, Doug and Jenn and I took the kayaks to Hatton Ferry and floated down the James for a few hours.  

  Saw one jonboat in the distance, briefly; otherwise, we had the river to ourselves all day long.  

  Not natural, but glorious even so.  

December Paddle

Only a few days before Christmas, the second weekend in a row of 70 degrees. The rain ended just in time for Doug and I to get a short paddle in before dark, before winter returns.




Chuckanut 12s First Splash Video

Finally getting around to posting this. T’s first paddle in her new skin-on-frame kayak designed by Dave Gentry.

Dave himself helped me build this boat. It weighs all of 25 pounds. Very easy for a small person to launch and paddle.

Thanks, Dave!



Prepping the Next Build – Chuckanut 15

Transferring the frame patterns


I’m hoping to get this second boat done in time for a trip to the marshes of Mathews County on the Chesapeake in a couple of weeks. Last week Doug was all set to help rip the long stringers to start the next boat – Dave Gentry’s Chuckanut 15. But work blew up in a big way, and the whole weekend was a bust.

Dave called today and had to cancel a camping trip at the last minute, so suddenly had time to help cut the frames, if I was available. Heck yeah.

The Chuckanut 15 is the same design as the one just finished for T – but 3 feet longer and a tad wider. I found I’m a little too big for her boat. It’s perfect for her, but my knees sometimes poked up out of the cockpit. Also, I may want extra room for a cooler and fishing gear. Dave made the 15 footer technically big enough for two small paddlers in tandem, but says it works really well for what I describe as a solo boat. So the 15 it is.

With the two of us working, all the frames were done in two hours.

Dave has patterns already on hand, we just had to trace them onto the plywood. Then cut them out with a jigsaw.










Next was fine tuning some of the cuts on a bandsaw, then cleaning up the curves and rounding over the edges with his handy spindle sander. Many hands make quick work.






Next up, back to ripping the long stringers that form the chines, keel, etc..


#skinonframekayak #chuckanut15 #handmade #eyeinhand

Two Day Boat Build – Chuckanut 12s

Dave Gentry with the Chuckanut 12s we built in two days.


Can you build a whole boat in two days?

Apparently you can. I had no idea.

Dave Gentry designs small skin-on-frame boats. There are lots of boat designers out there – some living, many not. Many beautiful boats out there, big and small. Most require a large investment in both time and money to bring into the world. But Dave has found a particular niche: His forte is to turn a small pile of wood and materials into a fun boat, with as little money and effort as possible. And he’s very good at it.

You can see all Dave’s designs on his website at:

His plans and kits can be ordered through Duckworks here:
Duckworks – Plans and Kits by Dave Gentry

A few weeks ago, we met Dave and his daughter over at the local reservoir to try out a couple of his paddling boats. T had shoulder surgery early in the summer, which put a crimp in our canoeing schedule. I knew one of Dave’s light weight designs might be a boat she could handle on her own until she  gets her strength back. A form of physical and mental therapy, and way more fun than the exercises the doctor prescribed.

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