Ted Pike on Wood, Boats, and Sailing

Airdate November 27, 2012

This week, we welcome Ted Pike to talk with us about his working life with Edensaw Woods and WoodenBoat magazine, as well as passion for the Wooden Boat Foundation and life in the Pacific Northwest. With more than a decade of service to the WoodenBoat Foundation and the North West Maritime Center, Ted is also a strong advocate of youth sailing and longboat rowing. His local high school sailing team has now become very competitive in Puget Sound races. “We’re sending successful sailors to colleges all over the country, and we’re very proud of that.”

At the same time, the Port Townsend area has a number of opportunities for people who want to become involved in boatbuilding, whether the potential students are in high school or are retiring from past careers. It’s not all wooden boats, though. Some composite boatbuilders are looking to Pike and Edensaw to provide them with the finish wood that they need.

“There are some very interesting projects taking place these days,” says Pike. “For example, there’s a Spanish Galleon being built through the San Diego Maritime Museum. This is a replica of Juan Cabrillo’s flagship.”

BJW: That’s great! By the way, I saw Lady Washington recently out on San Francisco Bay. That was a thrill.

Pike: Yes, Hawaiian Chieftain is also sailing the west coast. Both boats really do a lot of traveling.

BJW: When you’re out in the yards, what kinds of changes are you seeing?

Pike: As far as the magazine is concerned, that’s always a sell. It’s exciting to go around and get the support for what WoodenBoat has done over the years. Now, I’m promoting IBEX more trying to convince yards to send more people to help build our industry conference. Also, in the yards, I am seeing a lot of 35 – 40 ft trawlers, and those companies are growing. Fort Lauderdale was a very successful show this year, too. So, we’re starting to see a little life. We just have to be positive about getting through the problems. I’m optimistic and excited. The turnaround is definitely overdue. The good news is that there is enough vocational education going on, and we will have a workforce to do it. The boating world is pretty intensive in necessary skills. It’s gotten very technical and advanced. The woodworking now has such a fine finish, it’s phenomenal. And now our marine schools are teaching all those skills: contemporary boatbuilding, traditional, composites, metal.

BJW: We had Joe Youcha on recently talking about Building to Teach, and he gave us a lot of information about all the schools all over the country. I feel like there’s a disconnect where people say “There aren’t skilled workers” and the schools are looking for places where they can place their students. We’ve got the workforce.

Pike: Good point. We don’t have a good source for all that information and those schools.

BJW: I’m working on it! We’re looking for instructors for our online courses, but we’re also looking for ways that we can provide that information about schools and course. I’ve been working with Ed Scott and we have this idea about designing a boat and then “de-constructing” it so people can see a breakaway of all the systems. Yes, I have a plan.

Pike: Great idea! And then we can use both ProBoat and WoodenBoat to get that information out there.

BJW: True. MITEC has done some work in this area, BoatUS has a list of schools, WoodenBoat has a list. There’s something missing. You and I both know that there are people who want to work in boatbuilding.

Pike: Yes, there are definitely projects going on.

BJW: We have a wonderful project underway here in the Bay Area with the SF2SF Race, with Cree Partridge and Jim Antrim.

Pike: Jim is a great designer. The “Ultimate” boats were is. Also Berkeley Marine Center has become a key place for wooden boat restoration.

BJW: It’s a great place to hang out. Berkeley Marine Center, by the way, is a very supportive yards for DIYers – as long as they follow the rules – but I hear that so many other yards are not encouraging DIY.

Pike: Unfortunately, I’ve certainly seen DIY declining. Insurance is a big part of that. And it’s more and more expensive to keep a boat, to work on a boat. And some people haul their boat out and try to do too much, but in the end they abandon the boat and the yard had to deal with it. At lot of yards, too, may not have managers who are boaters, who have the “disease.” Let’s face it, boating doesn’t make a lot of sense. It costs a lot of money, the use is pretty minimal, and yet everyone tells you, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” It brings out a passion in the people who love it. We need more yard owners to understand and encourage that. Those owners can really benefit from the people who do want to work on their on boats. In the NW, it’s very common, but I know it’s more difficult in California.

BJW: I’ve seen a huge difference here in California, compared to what we could do as DIYers in Florida. The regulations are much more strict.

Pike: It is difficult, even working with someone as supportive as Cree. The copper issue is very big, and the industry is still developing new products for anti-fouling. And other things are happening too with new regulations on other products, too, and all that goes with working on your own boat in the yard.

BJW: For the yards, maybe DIY is more supervision, but also more communication. The yards have an opportunity to get work from those owner projects, too.

Pike: Lots of changes coming up. More people are going to trailerable boats, BIG trailerable boats. Yards may need to take the lead in providing owner education.

BJW: I certainly see the trailer boats here in the Alameda Marina. I look out at a huge boat parking lot, so boat storage is another area that yards need to consider.

Pike: In Anacortes, there is a very large area with a ramp where boats can park, have water & electricity, and basically use their boats like RVs. The boat is dry stored, and when you’re ready to go for your two-week cruise, you can put the boat in the water. There may be 500 to 1000 boats in that area. This is a smart solution. Stay on the boat, have a good time, but you don’t necessarily go into the water.

BJW: I recently talked to someone from SailTime, which is a service that allows people to buy a membership in a boat. It’s gotten to be quite popular in the Bay Area. The scheduling must be pretty complicated, but that’s what computers are for!

Pike: That’s right. We do have the information highway now.

BJW: Let’s talk about IBEX a little more. What kinds of information are you hearing about what people would like to see there?

Pike: This year was very encouraging for me, because I found time to go to some seminars. The range was excellence! Now I can tell people that they will find what they need in the seminars. There’s a lot of knowledge to be gained. The biggest concern for IBEX is that we need more people to attend. This is our industry show, and everyone needs to support it. The more people we have walking the aisles, the more the vendors are encouraged as far as bringing out new products. I think it’s a combination of all of it: People talking to each other, looking at new programs, watching the demos, and being introduced to new tools. It’s a great show.

BJW: It’s also an opportunity for people to find out more about what’s happening on the West Coast in terms of regulations. What we’re seeing here is going to spread East, and the West Coast yards have a lot of information to share.

Pike: The value of the show is well beyond the cost of attending. It’s an investment in the future of your company.

This entry was posted in Sail, Wood and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.