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Rendezvous Is...

by Russ Keat, Grantham, NH

(This was written by Russ in August 2001 in response to a question on the Guillemot Kayaks Bulletin Board. When I get frustrated with organizing the next Rendezvous, I simply re-read this message. It says it all for me.)

Michael Vermouth

What is Rendezvous?

Rendezvous is a tribal ritual, it’s a gathering, and it’s great cup of coffee. Rendezvous is awesome technical sessions, informal conversations with designers. It’s breakfast with a bunch of folks who just drove 2000 miles to be there with 6 yaks stacked on a Pinto. Rendezvous is part new car (boat) show room ....done barefoot in the sand. Rendezvous is a place were a Fortune 500 CEO starts taking notes when a college kid with just enough dollars for a few tools starts talking about how to get past that skeg without breaking strips. Rendezvous is story telling: It’s the best trip I ever took and the time my sander went right through the wood.
Rendezvous is knowledge and being in the company of people who are open to learning new things. And sharing what they know. All those books you've read on boat building.... They are the high school diplomas of boat building. Rendezvous is graduate work. You can get a PHD worth of material in a weekend. It is courses in artistry. Every day you have to figure out which sessions to see because there are so many... Each taught by a professional who is giving his trade secrets away for free.... All because he or she is desperately passionate about others building the boat of their dreams.

What is Rendezvous?

Rendezvous is about friendships and community. It’s about finding paddle buddies and e-mail addresses exchanged. It’s about the fusion of ideas, yours with others for something totally better.
Ever feel like you’re the only person in your world that would rather build your toys than buy them?...... Have you ever been called an eccentric? Are you the only person at work who knows what German steel is? Do your neighbors wonder about all those weird things you keep in your back yard? Rendezvous is hanging out with 300 people who you just met, but feel like you have known all your life. I can't tell you how many times I sat down last year with a bunch of conversing boat builders only to find that I wasn't the only guy to build his own log cabin, drive 800 miles to count raptors, make your own maple syrup, or be a witness in free fall at skydiving wedding. It’s the kind of place where you can exchange recipes for seal meat pizza with folks who have actually tried it, and no one bats an eye lash.

Rendezvous is a place to fit if you’re one of the folks who never were much for living life on the cookie cutter. Half the people are off the map the other half couldn’t even find the map even if they were looking. It's not counter culture. It's folks raising kids in boats, the same ones they build. Rendezvous is teaching them joy and respect; it's about being open to learning new ideas.

By analogy Rendezvous is:.... Rendezvous is what would happen if you took a Boy Scout camporee and a Harley Davidson Motorcycle Dresser Club bike meet and smashed them together in an atomic particle accelerator.
On the one hand the Subaru’s and pick ups show up, the gear falls out and the granola heads start prusiking up into the trees to show each other neat rope tricks. They start trying out each others home made salmon jerky and home brew. Making some-mores and building camp fires. It’s about bringing your best to share.
On the other hand everyone shows up with a new ride. They all walk up and down the 1/4 mile of wooden kayaks and canoes admiring everyone's ride. Rendezvous is a place where you hear folks "exclaiming things like whoa!!!!... Yowza, Wow, cool Hey . Check it out, Hydrooootherapy..... Neato.

Rendezvous is the kind of place where folks recognize each others work just by the signature characteristics. "wow that's got to be an Eric," Hey do I see a Kent built"? “Hey look there's another Leidy"! “Man if that's not another Greenley". Rendezvous is a place that every boat is a winner and every builder that makes it to the water a success. Its atta-boys and how'd you do that? and a bunch of men and women with note pads taking notes. Its a place were folks will take pictures of your whole boat occasionally but will spend half a roll getting detail shots of stuff they like. Stuff they want to remember and put in their own creativity file.
Rendezvous is talking to the guy who designed your boat and talking to the guy who is going to design your next one. Imagine doing that with Ford motor company?
Rendezvous is kids’ sail boat races. It’s two 70 something's falling in love again in your Adirondack Guide Boat you just lent them. Rendezvous is handing a stranger your best paddle, or dropping 600 dollars worthy of gear paddles and GPS and life jackets on the sand. Losing track of them as they get lent out again and again and not worrying because you know at the end of the day they will get back to you.

Rendezvous is a place where real women love jack planes and real men love to strip and stitch. And everyone wears a spray skirt. Rendezvous is sitting around with other folks who know what different species of wood smell like and like it; who know that you don't have to talk all over a magnificent sunrise or the call of a loon. It’s meeting 300 folks who know when silence speaks louder.

Rendezvous isn't a what. Rendezvous just is ....