Brian Swing was born and raised in Los Gatos. He was not involved with boats before discovering Matthew Turner, but he has been an amateur wood worker for a long time. One day in 2015, the year he retired, he came to see the Bay Model with his daughter and wife, but it was closed. He heard the commotion at the tent, and popped in to check it out. Franz Baichl gave them a tour of the project and signed Brian up to volunteer that very day. As he puts it, he started “in the deep sawdust” doing millwork with Jesse Mann. The frames were mostly up but planking was not yet started. In August 2015 he went up to Bob’s place in the forest to fell the donated trees and did a day of Alaskan Mill work with Franz and a crew of 8-10 volunteers. Brian was very impressed by the scope of work, milling a 60’ long x 22’ width, x 3” slab on a hill and maneuvering it onto a trailer & driving it down a narrow windy road. On the ship saw, he learned to make planks, patterning and learning about angles. The mill and ship saw were the 2 tools Brian had never worked with before. He also found the Planking dramatic, steaming the wood, then an intense 15 minutes to get the plank in place. Brian thought being involved with the finishing of the masts was really special. It was fascinating to work with both
Newcomb and Richard, each differently planning how to shape a mast. Brian had always been a finish carpenter and found Richard to be a tough teacher. Over time he was able to gain Richard’s confidence and move into some finish work on the ship. Highlights have been some of the Oak interior finish work, such as the doors, bunks, & navigation station as well as the exterior helm station. Brian’s career in electronics aided him in his role in the instrument installations. That was when he first started teaming up with Bill Bryan. They get along well and have similar working and conversational styles. “It was a joy to work with him!” Now they are partnering on adding cabinets & dish racks to Dan Shugrue’s beautiful galley design. When asked if he plans to continue working on boat building after Matthew Turner is complete? He replied, “When is the ship ever complete?” and said he would do it again given the opportunity. During Covid he has watched the Youtube series, “Tally Ho”, which was recommended by other tall ship volunteers, enjoying another boat building project vicariously. Hiking, skiing and backpacking have always been his favorite pursuits. He also wants to make his home workshop more efficient and make more furniture which he makes items for friends and family. After working with White Oak on Matthew Turner, he has better appreciation for selecting the best wood, rejecting knots and twists to get the best result and show off the beauty of the wood.