Our local heroine, again!
For the second year in a row, Russell and I have had our minds blown as summer boating gets going. The Seventy/48 human-powered race from Tacoma to Port Townsend was a mere curiosity to us when first announced in 2017. We thought, ‘cool!”; another great brainchild of Jake Beatty and Daniel Evans of the NW Maritime Center. Then Inger walked into our shop.
Inger Rankins of NW Sails & Canvas, is a highly skilled canvas master, creating boat covers and dodgers that are jaw-droppingly beautiful and perfect. She is a fit Norwegian-born 50 something that can be seen walking or biking all over Port Townsend with her trusty and adorable, canine side-kick, Rupert. Inger is also a close friend. I admire and appreciate her on so many levels. So when she asked Russell if she could borrow our PT 11 nesting dinghy to row seventy miles up Puget Sound in a race?... First, Russell tried to talk her out of it. Then, he took her seriously, albeit in bewilderment.
During the 2018 inaugural Seventy/48, Russell nearly pulled his hair out in elated disbelief when he realized that Inger was going to finish in the top 30% of over 115 long and sleek human powered craft, in an 11 ft, fixed seat, rowboat; our rowboat. She became and instant local heroine and for us, the star of the year.
As the 2019 race approached, she was struggling to find training time. She rowed to and from the sail loft where she was working with husband and sailmaker, Sean Rankins. The distance from Point Hudson to the NW School of Wooden Boat Building is roughly 6 nautical miles each way and weather and current present many challenges. But injury can also stump training efforts and she hurt her back at work. Inger doggedly kept training when she could, and was smart to get well rested before the start date.
A lot had been learned from 2018’s race and Russell sent her off with a lighter boat, lighter oars and encouragement to quit the race at any time. Everyone knew she had already done the impossible, a feat difficult to beat and potentially dangerous to try. Stubborn as she is, she tried, and she succeeded! In conditions rougher than in 2018, Team Valhalla beat her own 2018 time by a solid 45 minutes. She finished 30th out of 108 boats. A collection of friends, fans, and Norwegian flags greeted her at 2:13 in the afternoon as she rang her finishing bell. The first aid crew went down a list of questions about how she was feeling and checked her off as fit to row to the beach. I listened with wonder and searched her face for signs of trouble. She was instead, grinning after over 19 hours of rowing non-stop.
Yep, heroic in every way.
Will she do it again in 2020? There is a good chance she will. She told me how she had felt mentally fresher this year and that her body liked rowing. She said she cannot describe how happy she feels when she is out there on the water. I think to myself, ‘amazing’. She’d been told that the Platte Canyon High School Team PCHS had watched her 2018 post race videos for tips and inspiration, and being able to inspire others, has been a real bonus for her.
Russell and I want to publicly thank Inger for her tenacity and the pure joy she has given us by doing this race in our boat. It is a priceless gift we will always treasure. Some photos follow.
Videos from 2018: An interview with Inger Rankins Overboard practice before the 2018 race. And look for a really well done video about Inger on the Off Center Harbor website.
Team PTWATERCRAFT aboard INCOGNITO is racing Monday morning June 3rd in the R2AK. We will be racing as far as Victoria and then taking off on a short cruise, hoping to see come of the lead boats along the way North. We will check emails a couple of times to be sure but if you don't get a prompt response, this is why! We thank our customers and, with great appreciation, are collecting deposits over the Summer for the next run of kits!
Please do email your questions. We will get back to you.
Safe boating to all! AEB 😉
"I'm a tracker junkie and I'm okaaaay...." singing as I stay tuned to the Seventy 48 tracker. At 6:30am, Team Valhalla in the PT11 nesting dingy is still going 3.2- 3.5 knots after nearly 12 hours non-stop! She has kept up with the some of the paddle boarders, including Skelty, our friend Tim Nolan who appears to be pushing through non-stop as well! If you know Tim you are duly impressed.
We will be cheering Inger on as she comes in down at the city dock in Port Townsend!
There comes a time...
...when one feels the need to alter course. Russell and I started PT Watercraft in 2009, to create an outlet to share Russell’s vision for a really good nesting dinghy. Since then, he has built 8 boats to define the build process, take the right photos and to update the manuals. A major revision of the PT11 and Spear manuals has only just been completed. He has also built parts for approximately 175 kits, including 130 for the PT 11 nesting dinghy.
By Intention, our business model has been a small and custom operation. We are more creative in nature than business minded, so expanding to include employees and larger production has not attracted us. Instead, we have farmed out many aspects of our production to the abundant local talent found in Port Townsend.
The level of detail and care put into each kit has earned us a reputation that we are proud of: that our kits take the kit concept to a higher level than others, at a price, but at excellent value for the money. Unfortunately, this is also a business model that is difficult to sell. Yes, when we started, we thought we’d create the business and eventually sell it.
What we find is that with open ended shipping dates, we never seem to get ahead of stocking parts and getting kits out the door. There are no gaps between for writing books that we have promised our book customers, nor to develop new ideas. By re-organizing our shipping schedules, we hope to reserve time for these creative endeavors. This might mean fewer kits produced but our level of quality and service would remain high.
What are the actual changes at PT Watercraft?
We have had to raise our prices. This was a really hard decision for us. In an effort to keep our prices in some sort of league with similar sized boats, we have never paid ourselves very well for the labor intensive product we produce and materials and shipping costs just keep going up. On the other hand, we are not willing to ship a lesser quality product.
Because most of our kits are sold in Fall and Spring, we are considering to restrict shipments to specific time frames within those seasons. Deposits accumulated in Summer and Winter will largely dictate the number of kits we ship.
We are suspending all exports. Exporting has always cost us more with extra paperwork and materials (heavy duty crates, for example). Customers abroad pay increasingly more for shipping and import duties. It just does not feel right and we sincerely apologize to those outside of the US who were hoping to get a PT 11 kit. Canadians can make a road trip of it or we can ship to bonded shippers on our side of the border.
What is NOT changing?
Our customers are really important to us. We are here for you and will continue to work through this transition. We are dedicated to good service and creating the nicest kits we possibly can.
Please follow our blog as we trial new arrangements. Our home page now has a clear explanation of what makes our kits special. Further details are continued on the PT 11 homepage. The website may appear a bit haphazard for a while. I am shuffling things around and trying to simplify it all.
Thank you for your patience and support.
Ashlyn & Russell Brown
March 1, 2019
As per our new homepage: the full text: by Russell Brown
Understanding the PT 11 nesting dinghy
There are many nesting dinghy kits available, but our PT 11 dinghy kit is a bit different.
Because our kits are quite expensive, we would like to offer some explanation. We would also like to make sure that our kit’s are an appropriate choice for anyone thinking of building one.
We are long-time designers and builders of high-performance sail boats. Nesting dinghies have been a passion for more than 40 years, during which time our study of the compromises and possibilities have been a bit of an obsession. Many prototypes have led to the kits that we now offer.
Could we have created a simpler and more affordable boat? Of course we could have, but it wouldn’t have the qualities that make the PT 11 such a great boat.
What features make this boat special?
The ability to assemble and disassemble the boat in seconds, in the water or out of the water. The unmatched strength of the assembled boat, a challenge in nesting dinghy design.
The rowing performance of our boats is quite amazing. One was used in a 70 mile endurance race last year, finishing in the top third of a 120 boat fleet in under 20 hours, surprising for an 11 foot dinghy. An outboard motor is quite unnecessary when using the boat as a tender.
The sailing performance is very good. The stock foils (machined daggerboard and kick-up rudder) help the boat sail upwind like a 12 meter. The rig is the lightest and easiest to use dinghy rig on the market. The two-piece carbon mast and boom, sail, and all rigging weigh just 10 1/2 pounds, store in a small bag, and assembles in minutes, making a quick sail in a new anchorage easily done.
Other prominent features include a large truly watertight storage area, sealed flotation tanks fore & aft, and a very dependable daggerboard trunk cap that allows towing in rough water and at high speeds. Two rowing stations and multiple foot brace positions allow keeping level trim with multiple passengers and allow rowers of different heights.
These qualities are combined with many other well-thought-out features, some that make construction easier and many that make the boat easier to use, lighter, and more efficient.
What do we not like about the PT 11? It’s complex. While we have not over-engineered this boat and we continually work on making the build simpler, a really good nesting dinghy, especially one that could last forever, requires complexity. Much of that complexity is on our end. We manufacture many custom parts for the boat and we aren’t shy about expensive alternatives.
The fact that we have sold so many kits for the PT 11 with almost no advertising says a lot.
Builders of the 11 see the value of the kit, the manual, and the finished product. Resale values of well built PT 11’s also point to a well conceived product.
Is the PT 11 for you? If you are attracted to the boat and it fits your needs, then maybe. Are you right for the PT11? Probably, if the next sentences work for you.
If you want the performance that our kits offer and aren’t afraid to put in the effort and time required, if you look forward to a good winter or summer project, and are willing to carefully follow a very detailed building manual.
Building a boat can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience; an experience that is increasingly missing in modern times. We ask a lot of our builders, but they get a lot in return. They get the experience, a new set of skills, and in the end, they get a very versatile boat.
Because we have very high standards for what we want in a boat, we start with the best materials:
We hand pick through units of high grade Okoume plywood to find the best looking and flattest panels of five different thicknesses of plywood. This doesn’t mean it’s always perfect, but we choose the best available and it’s a wonderful material for this type of boat. Most of the plywood parts are CNC machined, but many of them are post-machined to bevel and round edges where appropriate. The lumber parts kit (foredeck stringers, glue cleats and reinforcements) are machined from high-grade Sitka Spruce. The foot braces, oarlock riser blocks, and back seat cleats are machined to a ready-to-finish level from Sapele mahogany.
We supply the best glass cloth of 3 different weights to protect and reinforce, while keeping the boat as light as possible.
Carbon fiber alignment clips, goose-neck fittings and fiberglass mast sockets are molded “in house”.
The foils are CNC machined from carefully selected Okoume plywood (2 layers of 12 mm Vacuum bagged together on a “flat table”) to make NACA section foils of almost 1” thick. For the weight and performance offered by these foils, they are relatively very affordable and not difficult to finish.
The machined 316 stainless connective hardware is machined by Paul Zeusche, an expert local machinist and boat builder. This hardware constitutes a large part of the value of the kit and is continually fine-tuned. We are extremely lucky to have some very smart friends.
The masts and booms are made in state by ICE, a maker of the highest quality carbon fiber tubes on the planet. The two-part mast and boom (almost 23 lineal feet of tapered custom carbon tubes) weigh just 6.7 lbs and that includes all the hardware and running rigging on the boom (5 Harken blocks, 2 snap hooks, 1 s-hook, 7 eye straps, 1 cleat, 37 feet of running rigging, and a goose-neck fitting.)
Many other parts and pieces are produced in our shop or locally. Besides the plywood, which is made in France, just about everything in one of our kits is made in the US.
The most valuable single piece of the kit is the building manual. We don’t encourage people without hand tool experience to build our boats, but the manual allows someone with no epoxy or boat building experience to build a really good boat.
It’s just the two of us running PT Watercraft, which means we can offer very good quality control and economy,
We are now completing our 8th PT 11, built to improve the manual and fine-tune the kits (as were the other 7). We do this so that our builders can get the most value, pleasure, and longevity from their boats. The kits and manuals for the PT 11 and PT Spear are getting better every year.
We have also been working on a video series with Off Center Harbor, showing the more technical parts of building a PT 11. These video’s will be available free to our builders. We hope builder will follow the blog for important updates.
Featured comment from March 2019: “ I would like to reiterate one point as far as the value is concerned: I've yet to float in my boat, but I'm confident it will work as designed. The money spent was worth it, just to have "taken the class" on working with epoxy, and stitch and glue boat building, getting a sweet boat at the end is of course a nice bonus. The manual describes such nuance of technique, I feel like an expert, despite limited experience with epoxy and glass. That said by a working guy on a budget.” A.S. Stowe Vermont
Our kit Manuals are temporarily out of stock and unavailable until FEBRUARY 2019. Our local printer suddenly closed and we are working on setting up the files with a new printer. We are also revising those files to make our manuals better!
Please stay tuned!
Our office will be closed December 2nd - December 9th. We will answer emails as often as we can during that time.
Due to UPS increased peak season rates and the fact that UPS drivers are seriously stressed out during the holiday season, we will not be shipping kits until January 2019. Our kits are already a maximum sized package for them and we feel the risk for damage is higher at this time of year.
We wish everyone a happy Holiday Season, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy New year, and any other special holidays I may have missed. Kindness and peace, good health and healthy provisions to all.
5 months after the 2018 Race to Alaska, I am finally getting a video published of Russell’s second leg to Ketchikan. I won’t deny that some of us were freaking out watching this race in the first 3 days as Russell pulled ahead of the leaders every day in spite of sleeping every night while the boats with multiple crew were underway non stop. It shows just how fast the Gougeon 32 catamaran can be in the right hands.
After that third day in Johnstone Straights, passing the lead boat, Team Sail it Like a Girl, Russell debated the sanity of what he was doing. That day had presented frustratingly light winds to sudden micro blasts that threatened serious harm, and after waking up Day 4 to total calm and contrary current, he waited for a favorable current and made the consious decision to focus on finishing without destroying the boat rather than trying to continue leap frogging to the lead.
There was a lot of pedaling done during this race; a lot of drifting, a lot of getting roasted in the sun. The multitude of drift logs, kelp rafts, and breaching humpback whales demanded that crews remain seriously alert. It was not until the 7th day of Russell’s race, that he had consistent wind all day. That was his 130 mile run from Aristazabal to Dundas Island where he kept his promise to himself not to sail in the dark. He regrets that choice only a little, mainly because he got badly bitten by black flies and in retrospect, he would have enjoyed wind had he just kept going.
His crossing of Dixon entrance was fair enough but the wind died as he entered Alaskan waters and that last stretch was grueling and wet with rain. Russell did not know who was nearby until he figured out that the high powered trimaran, Team Wright, was very close. That gave him the gumption to push harder, wanting to finish ahead of the bigger multi-hull. He succeeded but he was tuckered out from pedaling for hours by the time he stepped onto the dock. He spent his next few days nursing waterlogged feet...or, trench foot being another name.
He finished in the evening of his 8th day, counting from a noon start in Victoria to noon + 4 in Ketchikan and thus broke his own solo record from 2017 by a day. Happy to have made it, he remained humble and shy of the spotlight but I was pretty tickled he had done so well. The real joy of the R2AK for us, is the trip home and you can trust with me ever grabbing the camera, that there will be more photos and videos to sort though.
I hope to follow this video with some of those clips soon. Follow the link below to see a video of Russell's 2018 race from Victoria to Ketchikan.
Tracker screen shots highlight his daily progress.
This was the last tracker shot I could save before racing myself to Seattle to catch a plane to Ketchikan. I had to be there for the finish!\
For some reason I have yet to fathom, I am still catching up from the Race to Alaska, Shark Spit Regatta and our Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival.
This year's Wooden Boat Festival was once again a whirlwind of new and familiar faces, interesting conversations, and wonderful boats. It ended a few hours early as one of our rather famous southerlies kicked up around mid day on Sunday. The bigger boats headed out into the bay to keep space around themselves. The smaller boats hunkered down in the marina. The "sailby" was wisely cancelled. Tents were buffeted, the dust was whirling but the classrooms and restaurants were full and folks were happy. Our festival is such a great event for inspiration, learning and making new friends and connections.
I took a few photos as I always do. This year I was focused on some of the textures around me. I am sharing some of those below. Thank you to all who visited our booth in the WEST SYSTEM tent. Thank you again to WEST SYSTEM and to the WOODEN BOAT FOUNDATION and NW MARITIME CENTER for another amazing event. AEB 😉
This September we had the opportunity to play with an EP Carry electric motor for the first time. Dinghy owners often ask about an outboard for the PT 11.
Our preference is to discourage outboards on our dinghies because good rowing and sailing boats never make great motor boats. But some people really want to be able to use an outboard. That's understandable, but the fact is that the smallest gas outboard motors currently available are really too big for our boat; too much power and too heavy.
Now there is an option we can support; the EP CARRY electric "outboard". All of the technical information about this innovative little motor can be found on the website ELECTRICPADDLE.COM. Though it is compared to a 1HP on their website, it has sufficient power to get the PT 11 up to a cruising speed of about 4 knots. The USCG however, considers all small electric outboards as "2HP". Based on that formula, the PT 11 and PT Spear are rated for "2HP" so, the EP CARRY aligns with the Coast Guard figures. The amazing thing about this motor is that it weighs only 14.4 Lbs. This makes it very easy to mount and remove. The battery pack weighs 6.3 Lbs, making the total package less than 21 Lbs. There are several design features that add to the ease of handling as well.
(At this years wooden boat festival, Russell showed up with the motor in his bicycle bag.)
Our recent experience with the EP Carry was very positive and to my surprise, I caught Russell grinning after speeding off to visit other boats in the anchorage. "Mr. anti-outboard" was actually having fun and we enjoyed it further by taking a friend on an evening "cocktail" tour of Reid Harbor, a deep bay with lots of shoreline and many boats to observe.
We spent a couple of days, driving along the shore of Sucia in the San Juans, in Shallow Bay making watery doughnuts, backing up, going forward, generally goofing off, and then venturing out to 'Danger Reef' to "brave" close proximity to a group of Stellar Sea Lions. We were pleasantly surprised by how far the battery went on one charge. You will notice in our video that we carried our oars with us but we did not need to employ them.
This motor is not silent. Neither is it loud. Our lightly built plywood boat seemed to acoustically amplify the sound a little. Even so, there was no need to raise our voices for conversation. In fact, we could almost whisper and still communicate. This was a plus to me. Loud outboards in quiet anchorages are, in my mind, a real nuisance and many of us are familiar with boaters talking in their loud dinghies barely hearing each other and assuming no one else can hear them either...but of course we hear every word. Sound is a funny thing. With the EP Carry, the birds, seals, and sea lions were undisturbed by our passage. It made it a great modus for exploring the nature around us.
Another thing that is really attractive to us about this motor, is that even with our limited house battery power, we could re-charge the EP Carry Battery. It does require a 150-200W inverter, but this lithium battery requires a third of the power than comparable models to recharge. At home, it is simple to plug it into a normal outlet. Beyond charging the battery and rinsing the unit after use in salt water, there is virtually no maintenance. Yet another plus.
(see our video exploring Sucia with the EP CARRY)
When our EP Carry arrived at the door, unpacking it was quite amazing. The care taken to pack it and the detailed contents made for a well thought out and complete package. It was a positive reflection of Joe and Linda who have spent years perfecting their product. They, like us, had a vision that they worked and reworked in every detail. In fact, the original mount did not fit the PT 11 and now it does. Further, the EP Carry, designed right here in WA State, is assembled in the USA. It is yet another example of admirable American ingenuity with style and a small business making a positive difference in the world. Of all the outboards on the market, we feel confident that the EP Carry is a good fit for the PT 11.