HOWB 122 – Interview | Sam Johnson, Wooden Boat Builder, Bronze Caster, Exec. Dir. Columbia River Maritime Museum

by admin on January 30, 2014

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Today’s interview is with Sam Johnson, Executive Director of the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, OR.

Sam grew up on a ranch in California messing about on ponds, streams and creeks with his own raft and other small makeshift boats. In the summer his family would vacation at Capitola, CA by Soquel Creek where Johnson would get his boating fix on the local rowboats.

While pursuing a PhD degree in Marine Biology at Stanford University in Monterey, CA, Johnson began his wooden boat tutelage.  The Monterey Bay Boatworks is located on the University’s property in Monterey.   Sam spent nearly as much time repairing and working on Monterey fishing boats as working on his PhD during that 7 year period.

Next Johnson was on the Clark University in Wooster, MA as a teacher. The University was only 1.5 hours from Mystic Seaport where he spent many weekends learning more tools of the wooden boat trade from legends such as John Gardner.

Johnson started bronze casting after inquiring about purchasing a custom bronze porthole for his boat, and finding the price to be seemingly astronomical.  He had taken a workshop on casting and foundry work, so he dusted off his notes, set up his first foundry and began casting bronze. Over the years he has enjoyed and become adept at casting bronze parts of all kinds for traditional boats. Sam teaches courses in bronze casting at the WoodenBoat School in Maine, the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, and other locations around the US and Canada. In addition courses on boatbuilding, and other traditional arts are being taught at the Barbey Center of the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Click on green player button above to listen to full interview with Sam about the his love for traditional boats, bronze casting and the Museum.

Here’s some pics to enjoy:

US Coast Guard Wooden Rescue Vessel on display at CRMM. Photo by Wooden Boat Dan

US Coast Guard Wooden Rescue Vessel on display at CRMM. Photo by Wooden Boat Dan

The inside of the Columbia River Maritime Museum is as amazing as the outside is beautiful - A MUST VISIT. Photo courtesy of CRMM

The inside of the Columbia River Maritime Museum is as amazing as the outside is beautiful – A MUST VISIT. Photo courtesy of CRMM

These bronze oarlocks cast by Sam Johnson are amazing!  Photo courtesy of Sam

These bronze oarlocks cast by Sam Johnson are amazing! Photo courtesy of Sam

Sam's 1932 Bridgedeck Cruiser Winikin - a 32' beauty Sam restored and lived aboard for a time. Photo courtesy of Sam

Sam’s 1932 Bridgedeck Cruiser Winikin – a 32′ beauty Sam restored and lived aboard for a time. Photo courtesy of Sam

Thanks for doing the interview Sam.  I wish you the best in all their future endeavors at CRMM.

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