HOWB 060 – Interview Part 1 of 2: John Lockwood, Self Confessed “Wilderness Freak”, Wooden Boat Guru, Founder Pygmy Boats.

by admin on November 8, 2012


Today’s interview is with John Lockwood, founder and owner of Pygmy Boats in Port Townsend, WA.  John is originally from St. Louis, Missouri where he bird hunted, and played and fished on the lakes and rivers with his family in their 20′ canoe. During this time, John got HOOKED (no pun intended :)) on exploring, fishing, swimming, camping and enjoying the great outdoors.

After a one year stint at Union College in New York, John launched into a 5 year adventure of traveling and exploring the mountains, rivers, wildernesses, and outdoors of the US and Mexico.  The recurring theme was to work and save, then travel and explore until funds needed replenished; then work and save, and repeat.  John’s stops included the Palouse in eastern Washington (wheat farm), the Snake River (drillers helper), the Wollowa Mountains in Oregon (horse packing fisherman to high lakes), and Aspen, Colorado (ski area), among others.

In 1968, John broke his hip and was on crutches for 7 1/2 years.  This turn of events took John abruptly out of the wilderness and to the halls of Harvard where he studied Anthropology and Computer Science.  He was especially intrigued by his studies of the Pygmy people (thus the company name: Pygmy Boats) who are “hunter gatherers”.

During his years in Cambridge, he yearned to get back to the wilderness.  In spite of his limited mobility on crutches, John knew he could propel himself thru the water in a kayak using his upper body strength.   So in 1970, he strapped a collapsible Klepper kayak on his back, took a train to Whitehorse, Yukon Canada and solo kayaked 900 miles down the Yukon River.

This was just the beginning of John’s many adventures on and off the water designing, building, and using small boats.

To listen to Part One of the interview, click on green player button above.  (Part 2 will be in HOWB #61 next week).

Here’s some pics to enjoy (click to enlarge):

John Lockwood at his geodesic Port Townsend home.


John paddling Klepper collapsible Kayak in 1970.  Photo courtesy of Pygmy Boats.


John on one of his many paddling adventures in his hand built Pygmy kayak.  Photo courtesy of


Three Pygmy boats on tour. Beautiful pic courtesy of

Thanks John for taking time for the interview.  Your story is fascinating!  Tune in next week for Part 2!

HOWB Produces First Video Interview I have produced the first ever HOWB video interview.  The interview is with Lloyd Shugart of Seattle, WA and he owns and is restoring a Ed Monk Sr. designed bridgedeck beauty.  Check out  the video here:

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