In the past year, we’ve covered a wide swath of cruising boats on the market. Boats built in Taiwan and China, both coasts of the United States, Italy, and Holland. Boats built to exacting standards from a variety of materials: steel, aluminum, fiberglass, wood. We’ve covered trawlers with ranges exceeding 5,000 miles of self-sustained cruising. And in our “green” issue, we dived into the benefits of living petrol-free on a sumptuous, biofueled motorsailer.
The majority of the new boats profiled in these pages are superb (most would call them yachts), and an overwhelming number of them are well-engineered, flawless to the naked eye, and utterly reliable. Stepping on one in its full boat show glory is not unlike stumbling into a high-end clothing store. Everything is perfect, right down to that faint waft given off by multiple coats of satin varnish. But there is great appeal, too, in the boutique shops. And that is exactly where we found a be-sandaled fellow by the name of Kerry Elwood, manning his floating art installation/cruiser, the WaterWoody.
An artist and designer, Elwood spent four days explaining his craft—double meaning intended—at this year’s Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington. This festival is one of the best of its kind in the world, so it never lacks for star power. But even among the converted fishing trawlers, gleaming sailboats, and a pristine New England lobster boat, the showstopper was this unique houseboat-cruiser built in Salem, Oregon.
“The initial design was a navigable houseboat concept that expanded, as they often do, to accommodate a wider range of water conditions and a more commodious interior layout,” says Elwood. “Electric boat concepts have been around for many years, but battery technology has improved dramatically of late, and solar panels and LED lighting are becoming commonplace and provide greater sustainability than ever.”
With his new 36, Elwood takes sustainability to an artistic place, and then pushes it a notch further. It is custom to its fullest degree, as every WaterWoody is a unique piece. Steps up to the wheelhouse are plucked and shaped from fallen hardwood. The saloon table is likewise fashioned from salvaged wood, and reclaimed brass fixtures (compass, clock, fittings, portlights, and even a ship’s wheel converted to an LED chandelier) round out the onboard trimmings. If that weren’t enough, the atmosphere inside is as cozy as a fleece blanket, with heaps of natural wood and a real wood-burning stove to keep your extremities warm.
Powered by an Elco electric motor linked to a lithiumion battery bank, the 36-footer also includes a bow thruster, windlass, and even comes with a custom, airbrushed mural by the boatbuilder. The definition of original. More at: www.waterwoody.com
Top: The WaterWoody 36 under construction near Salem, Oregon. Above: A ship’s wheel that was once destined for the helm, ended up as an LED chandelier on hull #1.