HOWB 013 – Wooden boatbuilder, author, and journalist Larry Cheek Interview

by admin on December 15, 2011



Interview: Larry Cheek
This week I interviewed Larry Cheek of Whidbey Island.  Larry is originally from El Paso Texas and had barely even seen a boat growing up miles from water.  But after moving to the Seattle area as a seasoned journalist, Larry was given an assignment in 2002 by Sunset Magazine to attend and write articles on two wooden boat festivals – Seattle and Port Townsend, WA.  Larry attended both shows and got “hooked on wooden boats” by the craftmanship, charm, and fascinating people.   Thus began Larry’s wooden boat journey.

Larry quickly got his hands dirty by building a 14’ Artic Tern from a Pygmy Boat kit.  Next he built a cedar strip kayak while in a boatbuilding class at the NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding.  Boat number three was a 13’ Sam Devlin designed day sailor, which Larry aptly donned “Far From Perfect”.  It was the experience of building this boat that drove Larry to write the insightful and transparent book – “The Year of the Boat” – chronicling the character building process of boat building.   In the book he describes how he had to deal with his own personal inadequacies, impossible struggle with perfection, and test of patience to build this boat.  You can read an excerpt here: Year of the Boat.  And you can purchase the book thru my website at:

Boat number 4 – a Sam Devlin designed 18’ pocket sailor “Nil Desperandum” – was completed and launched this year.  Larry is officially “hooked” on wooden boats!  Be sure and listen to the full interview by clicking the green player button above.

Here’s pictures of Larry’s projects:

18' Winter Wren "Nil Desperandum" - Congrats to you Larry - she's a beaut!


Larry next to 18' Winter Wren Sailboat finished this year


Winter Wren "Nil Desperandum" launch day 2011


Larry's 3rd Build: 13' sailboat "Far From Perfect" - inspired his book "The Year of the Boat"

Larry’s email is Larry Cheek, or visit his website and blog at


Next Week – Interview with Jake Beattie – Director NW Maritime Center & Wooden Boat Foundation

Jake talks in depth about his personal boating experiences over many years and about what’s happening the Maritime Center and Wooden Boat Foundation.  Don’t miss the interview!


Want to help?  Please leave feedback!

My goal is to build a community of folks who want to connect, learn, and have fun with wooden boats.  Your valuable feedback will help me do that.  Please tell send me your wooden boat story so I can share it with the world (yep – people from all over the world are coming to the website).  You can use my website comment section, email me:, or call my feedback hotline at 424 261-2360.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

March 16, 2012

Hi Dan!

I was listening again to this episode and started fancying about building a strip kayak with my daughter, as a side project to my sailboat.

I was wondering about the CLC’s Aleutesque 18ft kayak – they have a set of full-size plans and I am quite fond of its looks!

As you have already build a CLC kit in the past and have thousands of nautical miles more experience than I with wooden boats, I would really appreciate to have your comments on CLC company, the quality of its plans, seaworthiness of your kayak and anything else you care to share!

Cheers from Brazil!



March 16, 2012

Danilo – the kit from CLC boat was first class all the way. I highly recommend them for plans, kits, etc. And they are very good on technical support via phone calls and emails. I built the Mill Creek 16.5 kit. It is a very stable boat designed for leisurely paddling in protected waters. I have heard good things about their faster more traditional kayak designs also. If you have specific questions, I would call them direct – they will have answers. Cheers, Dan


March 16, 2012

oops – typo! Please, read “As you have already built a CLC…”


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