Updated: Oct 11
2022 Update: Steve Chapin's boatshop is no longer located in the Point Hudson Marina.
ONE OF A KIND There are only three National Victorian Seaports on the National Register of Historic Places. Only one is on the West Coast – the city of Port Townsend.
And it was one boatbuilder who created a rowing dynasty that put the Northwest (and all of America) on the map – Pocock Racing shells.
When Pocock Racing shifted to composite shells, Stan Pocock entrusted one person to continue building Pocock classic cedar single racing shells, – Steve Chapin’s Boat Shop, which coincidentally, is located in the city of Port Townsend.
STEVE CHAPIN IS THE ONLY POCOCK-DESIGNATED BUILDER OF POCOCK WOODEN SHELLS
After seeing Steve’s restoration of Pocock’s 1960 Olympic gold medal winning HOH, Stan Pocock turned over the wooden portion of Pocock Racing – the “Cedar Speeders” – to Steve Chapin, who proceeded to build them “better than we ever did” according to Stan.
Stan examining Steve’s refurbishing of the damaged 1960 Olympic gold medal winning straight 4, the Hoh
THE HULL PLANKING OF A POCOCK CEDAR RACING SHELL IS 3/32″ THICK
Just like the skin of a Stradivarius Violin. Three centuries later, Stradivari’s magnificent creation is still celebrated. But he never made a 26-foot violin. That job fell to four generations of the Pocock family, to perfect an instrument that would have been lost forever when composite shells came on the scene.
“The building of these is passed through one family,” said Chapin. “That’s pretty amazing. And that’s one of the things that really attracts me to this project, to somehow capture that piece of history.”
Through the generosity of Stan Pocock and Bill Tytus, the Pocock company donated all the jigs, steam forms, patterns and some parts and materials to the Wooden Boat Foundation of Port Townsend, WA which has set up the shop and is preserving the tradition by making Pocock Single Racing Shells
STORYTELLING – THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BOYS IN THE BOAT AND A WORLD WIDE STAGE FOR POINT HUDSON BOAT SHOP
The story of Pocock Shells goes beyond the elevation of our region in marine history. Daniel James Brown’s epic tale of heroism and its triumph over evil was immortalized in 2016 PBS American Experience documentary, The Boys of ’36. The WBGH Boston crew came all the way to Steve’s Port Townsend shop to film the backdrop for the documentary.
The Weinstein Company, who bought the rights to the movie and has already been in touch with the Rat Island Rowing Club about using Steve’s shop and the boats in the making of this epic film.
It didn’t take much location scouting for them to find the master craftsman who was carrying on in the tradition of George Pocock, a man who had once said “When I build a shell, I leave a piece of my heart in that shell”
PBS used current UW Husky oarsmen and one of the eights from Port Townsend, the Husky Challenger, to film An American Life documentary “The Boys of ’36” in Seattle’s Conibear shell house. Steve Chapin oversaw the restoration of the Husky Challenger and was on location for the shoot. (Photos Dianne Roberts)
RESOURCE FOR POCOCK CLASSIC RACING SHELL OWNERS EVERYWHERE
While Pocock is a household name in the Northwest, owners of Pocock Classic Singles exist worldwide and Steve Chapin is their primary source of information on all things – restoration, hull identification, historical facts. The group and Steve himself maintain an online presence through an active Facebook group and their website Pocock Classic Cedar Single Racing Shells
Articles on Steve’s shop have appeared in the Seattle Times, Wooden Boat Magazine, Hooked on Wooden Boats and Port Townsend tourism films.
SUPPORT FOR NWMC’s “LIVING POCOCK MUSEUM”
The Rat Island Rowing Club’s shell house is a “Living Pocock Museum” on display in a glass case at Port Townsend’s most visited tourist destination, the Northwest Maritime Center. When they’re not out rowing or racing around the Pacific Northwest, the shells attract passersby who have read the Boys in the Boat – and sometimes one of the “Boys”, who rowed under Al Ulbricksen or even Bobby Moch.
After talking to the “Rats” about the boats, the next stop is Steve’s shop, where they can see the tools, the craftsmanship and the tradition that goes into the shells that made history and talk to the master himself.
The Point Hudson Boat Shop provides life support for these living legends. Steve is an indispensable resource that keeps our antique shells in excellent shape to be rowed, raced, filmed and experienced by anyone with an appreciation of what it means to “touch the divine”, in George Pocock’s words.
Some of the Pocock Wooden shells that are still active in the “Living Pocock Museum” at the Northwest Maritime Center.
TOURIST ATTRACTION AND EDUCATION
Point Hudson Boat Shop is a magnet for authenticity czars from all around the world looking to see, touch, smell, and film the last remnants of a perloo society where making a boat go fast is a glacially slow process. A reclusive and unlikely celebrity, Steve is well known among the wooden boat communities around the country – and the world….as well as locals like the red hat society, who dropped in for a tour.
"Steve Chapin is the last link to the craftsmanship and genius of George Pocock and his legendary cedar racing shells. Steve is the last, the key holder, the chosen one. The world of rowing will loose forever the heritage of its wooden shells. No longer will shells be made using original Pocock patterns and wood, also the dwindling supply of seaworthy cedar shells will loose their protector and restorer. It is a shame that George Pocock’s legacy is in danger of being sacrificed for the sake of progress. Protect our Northwest rowing heritage, protect maritime art, protect Steve Chapin and his craftsmanship."
- Heidi Danilchik, granddaughter of George’s sister Lucy Pocock-Stillwell
Steve Chapin at Stan Pocock’s memorial row. Photo of George Pocock courtesy of the Pocock Family Collection
THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION
Washington State Maritime Heritage Recognizes the importance of maritime industry to Washington’s economy: past, present and future
Historic Seattle produces a broad range of events including design lectures, tours of historic sites, and annual programs that educate the public about preserving historic buildings.
San Francisco Legacy Business Registry & Preservation Fund Commercial rents in most neighborhoods had risen significantly. The report drew connections between the city’s high level of commercial evictions and skyrocketing rents. While rent control laws shield many residents from exorbitant rent hikes, no such laws exist for businesses. State law does not allow restrictions on commercial leases. An alternative effort to assist the city’s legacy businesses was needed.