Wooden Boat Building with Erin and Evan Walsh
After growing up in the Midwest and meeting in sprawling Chicago, Erin and Evan Walsh yearned for a life that was more connected to nature. After finishing design school and entering the workforce in the city, they decided that changing pace wasn’t simply an ideal, it was a necessity. They piled their belongings in a Subaru with their two close friends and set the car heading West towards Seattle. It took two weeks, and involved many National Park stops and wildlife sightings, but when they arrived in the Pacific Northwest they never looked back. Now, the couple resides in Port Townsend, and help craft and repair boats at the North West Maritime Center. We took a short trip to Port Townsend to view their workshop, explore their craft, and to spend a day in true Pacific Northwest fashion by hiking, clamming, and watching the sun go down along the waterfront.
Photos by Eleanor Lonardo.
Photography styling and management by Ashley Townsend.
How long have you been working on boats, and when/where did you learn to craft boats?
Evan: I attended the twelve month course at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building. I started in October of 2012 and graduated in September of 2013 and have had steady work since.
What attracted you to boat building?
Evan: Since design school I’ve wanted to make the most beautiful things in the world. It’s a challenge and a pleasure to make a form as complicated as a boat out of wood and to make every joint as dependable as the boat needs to be.
Have you completed a full boat? Does it have a name?
Evan: No, I have not completed an entire boat, I’m still quite new to this trade. However, by the time of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival this fall, I will have completely restored a 1965 Thompson plywood lapstrake runabout.
Detail and describe a “perfect day” for you?
Evan: The perfect day is one spent hard at work, fueled by good food, rewarded with cold beer and finished by watching the sun go down with the people we love.
What words of advice or inspiration do you have to those who want to work with their hands?
Evan: I know of no work that is more difficult or rewarding. To quote the master shipwright Bob Prothero, “A man without a tool is just a monkey.”