Northwest boater Dan Mattson has a passion and wanted to share it with others, so he started what he believes to be the world’s only podcast series focused entirely on wooden boats.
Mattson, who lives in Arlington, launched his site HookedOnWoodenBoats.com in early September and has so far recorded and posted six weekly podcasts. Available to listeners at no cost, the podcasts include Mattson’s own musings on wooden boats and interviews with people such as Center for Wooden Boats Founder Dick Wagner and skin boat expert and builder Corey Freedman.
The venture is a change of pace for Mattson, a self-employed accounting consultant, and a welcome one.
“It’s a blast,” he said. “I’m really passionate about wooden boats. It’s just fun.”
Mattson has boating in his blood — his great-grandfather was a Swedish boatbuilder who was recognized by the mayor of Stockholm for excellence in boatbuilding. He immigrated to the U.S. as a teen and worked as a fisherman on Puget Sound. Mattson still has the Swedish fishing boat model his great-grandfather built in the 1930s for Mattson’s father.
As a youngster growing up in Vancouver, Washington, Matson would go out fishing and on trips to the San Juan Islands on his father’s boats, which included a 1961 Chris-Craft Constellation. He built his first boat, an eight-foot plywood pram, while in high school. In college, he took a sailing class and fell in love with it.
In the mid-1990s, while he and his wife were raising their five young sons, Mattson started looking for a hands-on project that would challenge him. He became interested in dories and built a 14-foot lapstrake semi-dory designed by the late John Gardner. He also built two kayaks, one with a mahogany deck and the other a skin-on-frame kayak with nylon on a frame of white oak and Douglas fir.
By that time, Mattson was hooked on wooden boats and boatbuilding. But he hadn’t thought much about pursuing his passion further when his oldest son, Josh, suggested a couple of years ago that he start listening to podcasts as a fun and easy way to learn.
Mattson had no idea what a podcast was, but soon started listening to them on his drive to work and saw their value.
“I thought it was a great medium for entertainment, education,” he said. “I got so much out of it that I wanted to do it myself.”
Mattson enrolled in a four-week online class offered by Cliff Ravenscraft, an insurance agent turned podcaster producer and consultant who launched his Internet career by starting a podcast discussion about the television series “Lost” in 2005.
Mattson had been blogging about personal finance and told Ravenscraft he planned to start a podcast about business and finance.
“You don’t sound very passionate about that,” Ravescraft responded. “What are you passionate about?”
Two things immediately came to mind: cycling and wooden boats. Mattson chose the latter, bought a $200 hand-held digital recorder and got to work. He records his podcasts at home in his dining room, with three sofa cushions placed above and on either side of the recorder — a tip learned from Ravesncraft — to block background noise.
In his off-work hours, Mattson has been driving around Puget Sound interviewing people for his podcasts. He went to Everett to talk with David Roberts, boat designer and co-founder of custom wooden boatbuilding company Nexus Marine Corp., and to Anacortes to interview Jay Smith of Aspoya Boats, who’s building a 56-foot Viking ship in his backyard.
The podcasts, Mattson said, have provided entry into a world few in the Northwest get to see up close, a community of people dedicated to preserving traditional boatbuilding styles and methods.
“The interviews are just fascinating,” he says. “What’s cool about it is I get to go meet these people and they’re super interested in what they’re doing. It’s their life.”
Mattson hopes to eventually make some money from his podcasts and if he’s successful enough, turn his site into a full-time pursuit. But for now, he’s just focusing on building an online community of wooden boat afidionados.
“I could do this full-time. That’s my goal,” he says. “I’m just taking it one step at a time.”