2011 Bodega Bay Boat Building Competition

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Blog entry by Dan Lyke posted 05-02-2011 11:25 PM 4440 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m a member of the awesome Sonoma County Woodworkers Association. Every time I go to a meeting, I kick myself for every meeting I’ve missed, because skill and knowledge demonstrated and transferred by the participants is amazing.

A few years ago, there was a meeting at West County Design at which Craig Collins raved about the Bodega Bay Fish Fest Wooden Boat Challenge. This is a competition in which you’re given:

  • 2 sheets of 3/8” x 4’ x 8’ plywood
  • 12 pieces of 1” x 2” x 8’ lumber
  • 2 pieces of 2” x 2” x 8’ lumber
  • 2 lbs of 1 ! ” deck screws
  • lb of 1” nails
  • 1 roll of duct tape
  • 3 tubes of caulking
  • 25’ of poly rope
  • 1 piece of poly sheeting (9’ x 10’)

A team of up to 4 people gets 3 hours to build a boat. You have to build the whole thing with hand tools, except for battery powered drills and screwdrivers. There’s then a short break (during which you can test to see if your boat floats and patch, but only with the tape), and then there’s a race.

I put it on my “that sounds like fun!” list.

Then a few months ago, someone in the club suggested that the club should sponsor a couple of teams. Realizing that I wasn’t going to get a group going on my own, I raised my hand. I joined a team led by Tom Segura.

Tom had a relatively simple boat design that he built a prototype of, we evolved it a little bit, built two more practice prototypes, took them out, paddled them, added and tweaked a few elements. We picked up two local high schoolers to assist in our team, and then one of them dropped out and since my Dad was in town I recruited him on to the team. Somehow in all this, despite the fact that Tom is an accomplished whitewater paddler, I got chosen to paddle (I was a whitewater professional back in the early ‘90s, but haven’t really paddled since I moved to California in ‘95) And then on Saturday we had the event.

I had high hopes: as a first time participant I wanted to finish without sinking.

Turns out we swept the field: took home first place in the race and the Best Craftsmanship award. Now we’ve gotta up the anté for next year.

Thanks to Tom, Paul Swarz, and my Dad for completely making my Saturday. It was a total blast, we had lots of very worthy competitors, from the “Cosco Busan” guys who tried for (but due to the vagaries of actual hilarious disasters, didn’t quite get) the “Titanic” award, to the Flying Monkey Claw team who won the crowd favorite with an amazingly engineered paddle wheel design, to the Wasabi Rockets (4 guys and about ½” of freeboard, and fast) to the guys who came from Nevada to compete, and I’m excited about next year.

(I'm the guy in the black shirts with the bald spot or black hat) More pictures at my personal web site. A really fun day, worthy cause, I want to get a little more friendly rivalry with other teams and stretch a little bit further next year.

See you there?

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

8 comments so far

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4101 days

#1 posted 05-03-2011 12:34 AM

Thanks for sharing the story. It was an interesting read and it indeed sounded like fun.

-- BLOG -

View chrisstef's profile


17423 posts in 3030 days

#2 posted 05-03-2011 01:14 AM

That sounds like an absolute blast. As much as i love woodworking, my love for building stupid things that kinda work once in a while trumps it. Im gonna just come out and say it … im jealous.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View jack1's profile


2107 posts in 4051 days

#3 posted 05-03-2011 01:23 AM

Neat project.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4121 days

#4 posted 05-03-2011 02:26 AM

Too much fun. I will have to drive over next year to observe.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View RandyMorter's profile


228 posts in 2714 days

#5 posted 05-03-2011 03:48 AM

Very cool, thanks!

-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4101 days

#6 posted 05-03-2011 04:10 AM

This is really great!!! I wish I knew about it…would have cruised over there!!! Congrats! Puts my one year and no hull to shame that you have a working boat in 3 hours!! LOL…fun stuff!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3139 days

#7 posted 05-03-2011 11:03 AM

cool and funny
thank´s forsharing it with us :-)


View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4149 days

#8 posted 05-03-2011 04:58 PM

I’ve already told Tom that we’re gonna do another entry next year, but between Jack, Wayne and Napaman I think you’re ¾ of the way to a LumberJocks team…

And given that a sheet of 3/8” ply costs about ten bucks, this sort of thing is also cheap entertainment even without the context of the competition.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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