Mike AndersonGrowing up in Seattle at a very young age, boats and the sea were part of my family’s activities. I began woodworking in seventh grade woodshop at our local junior high, but never dreamed that the vast technical difficulties of a challenging project and the pride and satisfaction of a job well done would become infectious, as would the smell of fresh cut cedar. With my love for boats, diving and the sea, my course in life was set at an early age.

While completing my college degree I fell in love with “Serena.” She was a one-off Jay Benford design, 18 foot Gaff Rig Topsail Canoe Yawl, made out of concrete. I made repairs and remodeled most of the boat. I sailed her all over the Channel Islands in Southern California.

That little boat taught me a lot about space and the value of it. Best of all it introduced me to Larry and Lin Pardey. The Pardey’s took me under their wing and were very patient with my many questions.

Tristan JonesWorking under the tutelage of a master shipwright and two circumnavigators was very special indeed. Through the Pardey’s I was able to meet my hero, adventurer and author, Tristan Jones.

Later on Mr. Jones wrote a nice blessing for my next boat, named after his first skipper, Tansy Lee.

While teaching at a local community college, I continued to hone my woodworking skills on personal projects. My desire to learn more about the art of fine boat building took me to work at, South Coast Marine, a custom sailboat company, owned by Robby Irvin. There I learned all of the facets of building custom interiors, boiler room installations, and fine woodworking.

1984 proved to be a pivotal year for me. Purely by chance, I came across a police auction at Long Beach Marina Shipyard in Southern California. There was a Thomas Gilmer, “Bluemoon” hull.

Tansy Lee hull being builtIts lines were very similar to Serrafyn of Victoria, a Lyle Hess design and one I had always been attracted to. I decided I was going to get that hull, whatever the cost, and jump in with both feet. For the next three and a half years, I worked on the boat after hours and on weekends. Happily, I got through the endurance test and launched the boat on August 29, 1987.

Upon returning home from working as ship’s carpenter aboard Schooner “America” out of Alexandria Virginia, I had the opportunity to become a cabinet builder for Gulfstream, manufacturer of the top of the line corporate jets, building light weight cabinets and furniture with space age materials. This experience was well rounding and educational. I was involved in the first G5 out of Long Beach California, and was grateful to work along side the best in the business and make some life long friends too.

Demand pulled me back into boat building and I was eager to further the product I was developing, The Freehand Steering System, a self-steering windvane for cruising sailboats.

Tansy LeeAfter a decade of refining the design and materials through an evolutionary process, my windvanes have been perfected and proven. The Freehand Steering System has been and still is steering Hess designed boats around the world using only one thing, the wind.

While building the “Tansy Lee” I was lucky enough to have taken many photos of “Taleisin of Victoria” during its construction.

Those photos provided volumes of information with many details and were an enormous help to me. The following photo essays are a record of building and completing “Tansy Lee and many other projects.

I hope they will be useful for young, aspiring boat builders, much as Larry’s photos were for me.

It was the lure of the sea that got me into boat building, and for me, the end result of boat building is experiencing the adventure and romance of the ocean in all its manifestations.

Mike's first boat - Serena

So, don’t forget to take a peek at the marine photography section. Those photos were hard earned.