Leave it to my wife Cheryl to dig a good story out of the woodwork. She came home from work one day last summer, exuberant to tell me about a boatbuilder she'd met.
"I think he's a story," she said.
We were having a glass of wine, contemplating what to have for dinner (moose or salmon) when she suggested we drive over to his place not a mile away from where she works. The next day found us touring Delbert Henry's large shop, Hylite Fabrication, nestled in the woods in Butte, Alaska. As we stood there, dwarfed by a 90-foot research vessel and talked with Henry there was no doubt he was a story, but we needed a commercial fishing boat in the picture to fit National Fisherman.
So you can imagine my exuberance when Cheryl came home in the dead of winter to report that he was building two new 33-foot Cordova bowpickers. A few weeks later I found myself back in his shop and ogling two completed hulls, custom built for Jeff Johnson of Peregrine Boats.
The decks and houses had just been added, and as I climbed up ladders, over bulwarks and down into engine rooms, I was taken aback with the workmanship. I have to admit I'm a sucker for clean integral fittings, and the air intakes for the engine room and attention to countless other details were nearly overwhelming.
The cabins were graceful. The entry and shape of the bows blew me away. Appendages at the corners of the sterns captured my curiosity.
Thank goodness I was armed with video gear. For nothing else could encapsulate it all. Henry was amenable to my filming, as was his congenial crew — and the owners. So I made two more visits to the shop to capture progress on the boats.
As the footage started filling a 500-gigabyte external drive, I started color grading, editing, writing the voice-over and dabbing with the music. At the same time I felt a growing apprehension about the footage from the sea trials.
This would be the action in the video and the epilogue of the finished product. I had premonitions of shaky shots from my kayak or a rubber raft as the boat raced past.
Leave it to Cheryl again. The day before I'd scheduled the shoot she'd found a YouTube video featuring another local treasure, Pat Martin and his fantastic aerial photography. On a whim I called him up. We hit it off, and were excited to work together.
So on a calm morning, Martin showed up to work his magic (Not only does he fly the helicopter drone but runs controls for camera angle, exposure, etc.). Cheryl shot stills, and we hopefully captured in the video below the essence of Henry's creativity in aluminum.