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Saturday, September 9 • 10:00am - 11:00am

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THE BOATMAKER, Directed by Casey McGarry, USA, 2017, 37min (Documentary)

Architect Ken Minor spent 25 years building a beautiful wooden sailboat, by hand, in a barn next to his house in a California canyon with the dream of sailing around the world. 

Director’s Statement by Casey McGarry

My entrance into the story of “The Boatmaker” was an unexpected one. I only met Ken Minor in February 2016 when, after a quarter century of building a wooden sailboat in his backyard, he was finally ready to put the boat in the water. And boy, am I glad that I picked up a camera and began filming that day because the most important parts of the story were about to unfold being that the majority of the film centers around the events that occurred that week. Thank god my film crew and I were there to capture all that was about to take place because otherwise, there wouldn’t be a film at all.

A friend of mine named Robert was actually the one who told me about the story of Ken Minor and his boat project. He then insisted that I make a film about him. I was immediately intrigued because it really isn’t every day that a story like this comes across your desk. It actually was the story I had been waiting for. I then asked Robert in return, if I were to direct, if he would be a producer on the project. And so it went…

My entrance into the wooden boat world is both personal and completely unexpected as well. Boat building is one of the oldest brands of engineering in human history. Human beings have been building wooden boats for thousands of years. The tradition is a very unique trade to be a part of, and for me, the wooden boat and world cruising communities are without question, a couple of the most interesting and eclectic groups of people in the world.

There’s definitely a romanticism that surrounds the world of wood boats. For some, it comes from the breathtaking feeling of being out on the water sailing on the open ocean, and for other enthusiasts, it’s the actual process of building boats. Wooden boat construction is a learned trade that goes unparalleled to any other form of woodworking. There’s no other higher form of woodworking.

Part of my compulsion in making this film comes from my own fascination with wood boats. It’s a beautiful tradition that many people know nothing about. And if there’s one selfish reason I am making this film, it’s because I wanted to learn more about them. I’m sure there are many people who assume that wood boat construction is obsolete, but it’s certainly not. You just have to go find those few pockets around the world where wooden boat communities are thriving. i.e. Port Townsend, Washington…Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts…Risor, Norway, and the list goes on. There is definitely a renaissance going on with the revival of wood boat construction and a growing enthusiasm in sailing them.

Ken Minor’s uncompromising dedication and superb craftsmanship in finishing this boat is not only unbelievable, it’s absolutely mind-boggling. Ken just turned 79 years and moves around like a guy in his early 50’s… it’s crazy. I’m interested in exactly what it is that makes the guy tick. As local fisherman James Cotton puts it in a scene in my film when he’s speaking to Ken's work: "This is probably the last wooden boat that will ever be launched here (at the Santa Barbara Harbor). Nobody builds wood boats anymore. This is such a work of art…there’s bazillions of hours of absolutely perfect woodworking. You don't see anybody who can do this anymore…not since Sugar Lindwall." Only Ken Minor could build this boat and only Ken Minor would make for a good subject for a documentary like this. 

I wanted to tell the personal story about a man fulfilling his life dream—the story of Ken Minor and his boat, “Morning Song”—but I also want to create access for others into the world of wooden boats and the world cruising communities. The only way I knew how to do that was by making a comprehensive yet universally accessible documentary film. I want everyone who watches this film to walk away not only feeling inspired to follow their own dreams, but also knowing a little more about the tradition of building and sailing wooden boats.



Ken Minor

Architect Ken Minor, from Santa Barbara has spent the better part of the last three decades hand building the Lyle Hess designed Morning Star,a sistership of Lin and Larry Pardey's Taleisin.Attended California State Polytechnic College, San Lois Obispo, majoring in Architecture and... Read More →

Saturday September 9, 2017 10:00am - 11:00am PDT
Wooden Boat Festival Cinema Pope Building