You know you’ve really fallen out of the blogging habit when your teenager actually notices that you haven’t posted in a long time. Sigh.


Between my gawdawful internet service and the fact that Flickr, where I host all my photography, went to a bandwidth-gobbling “magazine” format, dealing with pictures got a lot less fun last year, and therefore, blogging held a lot less appeal, too.

tug and barge

But here it is, a year later, and I’ve got hundreds more good photos than I had last year, and I’ve been feeling the urge to get back to this, so I’m just going to bite the bullet and deal with it.


So, what has happened since last year? Well, last year at Lumpy Waters, Sean and I let a perfectly safe and sane, incident free long boat surfing class on Friday afternoon. The rest of my Lumpy Waters 2012 was safe and sane, too, although a bit cold and windy.

Long boat surfing class, Whalen Island/Sand Lake, OR

After Lumpy Waters was over, I moved right into hunting season. I saw a lot of animals this year, and watched one group of elk off and on throughout the season, but could never catch the legal bull out in the open during elk season.


I went to a couple of Appleseed shoots, and learned a LOT about shooting accuracy that I did not know. I even shot a qualifying Rifleman score on one target.

Appleseed shoot, Feb 24th, 2013, Ariel, WA

I went to Seattle with the family and my brother, and we saw the King Tut exhibit, which I had seen many years ago, the last time it was in Seattle.

Pacific Science Center


We moved the shop for CRK from the building behind the Skamokawa Store into the Skamokawa Landing building around the corner, and had a pretty busy kayaking season. Ginni and I got out for some coastal recon for a trip we are putting on the calendar for next year. And we paddled through fields of flowers…

paddling through flowers

Oregon Coast paddling

I got the sawmill running again for the first time in over two years, and milled some lumber for Brian down in Nehalem. We tried fishing for kings one evening, but to no avail. We did see over 50 silvers jumping, of course…


fishing with Brian

Back home, though, this was the year I finally figured out how to catch fall kings in the river near Skamokawa, and I managed to keep a couple of them.

cat and fish

I did a lot of other stuff, too, and took a lot more pictures from the deck at the new shop, like this one:


I’ll try to get back here again before another year goes by…

So, a couple of weeks back Brian and I got around to milling up those logs we dragged out of the Nehalem River last winter. Brian is getting ready to build himself a cabin, so most of the lumber stayed with him, but I did keep some nice clear spruce for planking a dinghy that I hope to build one of these days. Unfortunately, somebody stole the other raft of nice cedar that we had tied up in the river; when Brian set out to move it to the boat ramp the night before I got there, all he found was a couple of pieces of rope, cut short, hanging at the side of the river where our logs had been. Those were the nicest of all the cedar we had, too. Grrr…..

cutting cedar

When we got to the huge log, we couldn’t load it onto the mill in one piece, so we set up to rip it lengthwise with the chainsaws first. Brian wanted to try out the big Husqvarna 372, so once I got the cut started, I handed off the saw to him. Here he is, handing me a small piece of metal that he saw laying on top of the log. “Hey, is this part of your saw?” he asked. I took it from him and looked at it while he kept cutting. In another moment, just as I recognized it as a piece of a needle bearing, the saw made a horrible clanking noise, and started throwing sparks everywhere. Brian shut it off, and I found that the clutch had flown to pieces, taking out the bar oil pump on its way out.

"hey, is this part of your saw?"

We finished the cut with Brian’s smaller Stihl; fortunately the cut was already more that halfway through the thickness of the log. My Husky is currently at the shop in Longview, awaiting repairs…

Here’s Brian, pretending to have ripped this mighty log with a 14″ Echo tree service saw.

mighty log slayer

Brian and big log

Wherever there is fresh lumber being sawn, you will soon find a host of various insects, attracted by the strong smell of wood. This is some kind of bark beetle, which there were several dozen of all over this log as I cut it up.


The last log in the stack got made into big beams for Brian’s cabin, which neither one of us was very excited about lifting and carrying to the stack at that point. I loaded up the little bit of clears that I kept and headed home. Brian is probably in the middle of building his cabin right now. Next up for me is the task of building Alice a Greenland style kayak. I just started tonight, and will be posting pictures and comments soon.

growth rings

alder lumber

After many many weeks of no movement, I finally got the mill all put back together this week. I changed out the big drive side bearing, new up and down chains, new lumber scale and pointer, cleaned up the blade guides and put all new adjustment hardware on them.

I still have a little welding to do before it is all back in service, but after several hundred dollars and many hours of work later, I am making boards again. These boards are alder, from some logs I brought home from a neighbor’s house. Next stop is Brian’s shop, to mill up the logs we pulled out of the river this winter.

guide adjustments

blade guide

starting out

So, back last November and early December, my friend Brian and I spent a few days in kayaks and my skiff, pulling clean spruce and cedar logs out of log jams on the Nehalem River. But how to get them out of the river and back to the shop, where we could mill them up?

bucking the big Spruce log

bucking the big Spruce log

The nearest good boat ramp was over 3 miles downstream from where the logs were tied up, and Brian’s idea was to have a kayak race, where teams would each be assigned a log, and the first ones to get their log past the highway 101 bridge over the river would be the winner.

So, On February 7th, with a strong outgoing tide in the afternoon, a groups of kayakers converged on Brian’s shop in Nehalem and he laid out the plan. There were prizes offered, including a skin on frame kayak, a well used copy of “Kayaks of Greenland” and a quart of excellent beer.

Within an hour, all the kayakers were putting in at the upper boat ramp, having already shuttled a mess of cars to the dock in Nehalem. Andrew Elizaga came along in one of Brian’s adirondack guide boats and filmed the whole thing, his movie can be seen here on Youtube.

Andrew filming

When we got to where our logs were tied up, we separated into teams and I started passing out logs as I untied the raft. Some people got enormous huge logs, some got smaller logs, and it was evident pretty quickly that a close competition was not going to be had, as those with lighter cedar logs quickly took the lead, and the team of three paddlers with the monster butt log struggled to stay with the group. Brian switched teams around a bit and he and I rotated around between the teams that had bigger logs, helping keep the group together.

Dave and Diana

Bob and Reg

We passed a motor boat and some folks out on their decks as we got closer to town and got some strange looks and odd comments here and there.

Finally everyone made it to the dock and we tied up the logs, and then paddled back upstream to Nehalem, pulled out on the dock in town and wandered over to have some pizza and beer. And that was the kayaking race.

tying up at the dock

The next day I came back with the truck and a trailer and Brian and I spent the day loading the logs onto the trailer and taking them back to his shop, where we finally figured out how to unload them without getting stuck in the wet grass. This one was the biggest one, at eighteen feet long and 34″ in diameter at the small end. It was a one log load, scaled at 950 board feet on the Scribner scale and we guessed its weight at about 5,000 pounds.

Big spruce log

There are still a few small logs tied up there, and once we have them pulled out and moved to the shop, I will move the mill down there and saw it all up into lumber, some of which will get built into kayaks, and some of which will get built into a new back porch to replace the one I lost to snow load on Christmas day. Stay tuned!

Naturally, at some point, my interests in kayaking and sawmilling would collide, and the result of this is kayak logging. Lots and lots of logs end up in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest. Some of these are pretty nice sawlogs for a small mill like mine, and every now and then some nice logs come along in a way that I can actually get at them and salvage them.

kayak and log jam

Last winter, my friend Brian and I tried to salvage some very nice cedar in the whitewater section of a nearby river. We had a pretty exciting adventure, but ended up finally losing the log. Recently he called me up with news of more logs in a lower, flatter and tidal section of the same river. Today, we geared up and went to investigate.

By the way, kayak logging, or any kind of log salvage work like this, even for someone with as much experience at it as I have, is an extremely dangerous undertaking. Logs shift and roll, saws bind and kick back and there are a thousand ways to get hurt or killed outright. Do not try this yourself! If you decide to ignore this advice and do try this yourself, don’t tell anyone that you heard about from me! My advice is to stay safely at home and read about it on other people’s blogs.

kayak accessories

There were some old growth cedar chunks stuck in this logjam, along with a really nice, straight and clear Sitka Spruce log about 80 feet long and about 32″ at the butt end. We decided that the bottom 40 feet or so would be worth saving and set to work.

kayak logging

fun with chainsaws

Unfortunately, the longest saw we had with us had only a 24″ bar on it, and this log was more like 26″ or so at the part where we needed to buck it off. In the end, I cut out sort of a window block to effectively make the log a small diameter. We eventually got it cut through and, miraculously, it did not have some hidden branch underwater pinning it in place. We finally got it loose and tied up to shore nearby. We added a couple of the old growth cedar chunks to our log raft and called it a day, visiting the shaggy cows nearby on the way back to the boat ramp.

towing the log

floating log

long spruce log

Next stop for this project will be pulling those logs up to the boat ramp, loading them on a trailer and taking them to the shop to mill up into lumber.

shaggy cow

And now for something completely different…

milling cedar

Since 1995, one of my jobs has been as a custom sawyer, milling lumber for clients in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. After I started kayaking, I stopped doing as much sawmilling work, but have been getting back into it lately.

In 1995, after selling my house in Portland, OR, I bought a brand new Woodmizer sawmill, and for about seven years I used that first mill to make most of my living. In 2002, I sold that original mill and bought a used 1996 model with hydraulic log loading and handling features, something I should have gotten with the first one, but I had no idea at that point what I was getting into. I think those 7 years of manual log handling probably took about 7 years off of my lifespan in excessive wear and tear on my body. I do still have all of my fingers, though, and both eyes, so I guess I’m doing all right so far.

bandsaw blade

The Woodmizer is a horizontally arranged bandsaw, powered by a gasoline engine. The log is loaded onto the carriage, and the sawhead moves back and forth taking slices off of the wood. The whole thing is built onto a trailer axle, so it is very portable. I have set this mill up in some unbelievable places, including in no parking zones in the city more than once.

I have milled everything from veneers and small strips for laminating up to large beams up to almost 30′ long. I have milled pretty much every kind of softwood that grows on the West Coast, and lots of different hardwoods including alder, fruit trees, black locust, madrone and several kinds of oaks and maples. Wood that I’ve milled has been made into sheds, custom homes, barns, corrals, kayaks and other boats, fine furniture and cabinetry.

blade guide

Over the years I have been involved in a variety of building projects by way of supplying the custom milled lumber. Lately I have been thinking of tracking down some of those building projects and going to visit them. A book, perhaps?

pergola at Krist's

This week I am milling up some Port Orford and Western Red Cedar for a neighbor to finish his pergola project. The PO cedar came from some landscaping trees near his house that blew over earlier in the year, and the red cedar was removed by the PUD to protect the power lines.