The Driftwood

October 2014 News Web Exclusive

If Geppetto didn’t have such a Monstrous experience with water, he’d probably craft a houseboat right out of wood—but Kerry Elwood of Salem, Oregon already beat him to it.

The Statesman Journal covered Elwood’s story about his hand-crafted nautical marvel, dubbed the Driftwood. This beautiful, one-of-a-kind houseboat was entered at the annual Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Wash. this past September. The Salem airbrush artist/boat-builder’s biggest hope in entering the Driftwood in the festival was to return with a contract for a second wooden houseboat tucked under his work belt.

When he pulled up to the slip late Thursday night after Labor Day, there were people already waiting to see the 28-foot-long houseboat. His popularity didn’t stop there, as he admits there was “pretty much a crowd on the dock the whole time I was there.” Over the weekend festival, Elwood guesses that the number of tours he gave was well into the hundreds, sometimes with groups as large as 12 people at once. A longtime builder of Olympia, Wash., Sam Delvin, and one of his chief designers stepped aboard to check out the gorgeous layout of the Driftwood, as did a designer for Air Head Dry Toilet interested in Elwood’s composting device.

It's little wonder so many were attracted to the wooden houseboat. The grey mist shrouding the water makes the warm honeyed tones of the Driftwood stand out with eye-catching beauty.

Elwood wasn’t short on enthusiastic praise from his many visitors. "I can't tell you how many people came on board and said, ‘I could live on this,’ or came up to me and said, ‘This is the best boat at the show,’” he says.

Then his moment of greatest success came when his longtime friends Joe and Cindy Meduri stopped by to see the wooden marvel. Joe said, “I want you to build us a boat.”

Elwood was quick to accept with a nonchalant, “Cool.”

Then his friend laid the clincher: “But I want it to be bigger.”

The Meduris were after dimensions five feet longer and three feet wider than the Driftwood, giving it an overall 33- by 12-foot bulk. Elwood decided to modify the boat by adding a higher, more pointed bow to handle the cruising waters of the Columbia River with greater ease.

Elwood jokes, "He's got all of his criteria scratched out on the back of a bar napkin.” Then he adds, “When you do it a little bit longer and a little bit wider, it ends up being about twice the boat.”

A fitting craft to retire on, as Joe Meduri plans on calling it good come January—but he won’t be too busy relaxing that he won’t want to help Elwood with his new houseboat’s construction.

To read the full Statesman Journal article (or the previous articles about Elwood), click here! Photography by Henry Miller of the Stateman Journal. 

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